Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Dream in Blue and White

The incomparable Charlotte Moss via

I'm about to sell my parents' house and move into a new place in a few weeks.  Right now I'm in the process of planning the interior design of my new home.  I've never done this type of thing before, and I have had so much fun doing it.  The other day, I truly spent 2.5 hours just looking at table lamps.

Over the past 10-12 years, I've kept a black three ring binder, filled with pages I've ripped out of magazines.  The pages include things like moving passages in magazine articles, profiles on inspiring women, stories about historic hotels and lists of essential wardrobe items.  I also have been keeping pages from magazines for my "dream" interior design.
Needless to say, I'm over the moon to finally be able to use all these "dream" interior design magazine-page-rip-outs.  My dream bedroom always has been in light blues and creams and neutrals.  I love traditional shapes and ideas, but with a modern twist.  The pictures on today's blog post are some of my inspiration for the bedroom.  I can't wait to see how it all comes together!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stan's Birthday

The other night, I was in Washington, D.C., and I celebrated my friend Stan’s birthday with his family.  I met his children and grandchildren and greatgrandchildren for the first time.  His wife, Sara, was not there – which was a strange thing, because it’s hard to think of Stan and to not think of Sara.  But Sara passed away a few months ago.

Right after college I moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for a Congressman; and like many twenty somethings, I was intent on changing the world.

A few months after I moved to Washington, my mom visited me.  During her visit she arranged a dinner with Stan and Sara.  Stan was an editor at The Washington Post and my mom’s boss when she worked there.   We met at the Odeon CafĂ© on Connecticut Avenue near my apartment.  Stan and Sara got there before us.  Stan was wearing a sports coat.  He always does.  We shared stuffed mushrooms, and I had the salmon linguine. 

After that dinner, Stan and Sara took me under their wing.  I don’t know if that’s just the type of people they are or if they saw that I was in need of taking-care-of.  Regardless, for the next two years, every couple of weeks we would get together for dinner. 

One time, the three of us were walking out of the restaurant at the Mayflower hotel.  Stan went ahead of Sara and me to get their car.  Sara took me by the arm, leaned into me and said, “My hope for you, dear, is that someday you meet your Stan.”

Stan is an incredible journalist.  Sara was always so proud of that.  His writing is searing in its simplicity.  He’s uses almost no adverbs. 

He got the itch to be a reporter at a young age, when a substitute teacher took over his middle school class and with no lesson plans from which to work – had each of the students write newspaper articles.  Stan has had a storied career.  He was one of the reporters whom Robert Kennedy famously told that John Kennedy’s running mate would not be Lyndon Johnson, and as Stan said, “I thought John Kennedy’s brother was a pretty good source!”

Stan is one of those great men.  From a generation of men with a strong work ethic, with gentlemanly manners, and with a sense of duty.  And more than anything, I think what Sara meant is that – day in and day out – Stan is kind and he is decent.  We should all be so lucky to meet “our Stan.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

London's Macintosh Typefaces

It’s been over two months since I left London and came back home to Kansas City.   I’ve asked myself over and over again, “What was the point of my time in London?”  I haven’t figured it out yet.  I am reminded of the Steve Jobs anecdote about how he dropped out of Reed College, and then for the pure fun of it, audited several calligraphy classes there.  Years later, these calligraphy classes became the foundation of Mac computers’ typefaces.  So perhaps I will discover the purpose in the years to come.

When I was in London, I had all these grand plans for side trips throughout Europe: Barcelona, Vienna, Copenhagen. But I fell in love with London.  I fell in love with the rows of tiny chimneys atop the townhouses, with the Capability Brown designed parks, and with the winding streets that revealed a bit more of the city with each turn.  I fell in love with my long walks along the Thames, with the electrifying theater of the West End and with the inspiring programming at the V&A.

And I fell in love with the English countryside too.  The rolling hills of Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire; dabbled with white sheep and their little black faces; each view more beautiful than the next.  But most of all, I fell in love with the quiet politeness of England.  A country so thoroughly courteous and thoughtful, that I hope it stays with me forever.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

London's Decorative Details

Many of my days in London were spent wandering around my neighborhood admiring the architecture and decorative elements of the homes.  Every item was an opportunity for refinement and expression.  A stark contrast to so many cookie cutter homes in America.  No cement slabs for the walk up to your front door; rather intricate mosaics or playful polka dot fun.

Why bother with a boring, brass doorknocker – when you can have a whale or a fox or the goddess of love herself?

And what about the beautifully detailed windowpanes?  Such lovely designs, with each pane catching the light differently.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Shoreditch Inspiration

In London, my flat was in the Chelsea-South Kensington part of London – full of beautiful shops, fashionable restaurants and perfect white townhouses.  Kensington Gardens and Palace, the V&A museum and the French Cultural Institute were all in a 5-10 block radius from my flat.  And so for several weeks, I did not venture outside of this area much. 

After awhile, though, my neighborhood seemed almost too perfect, and I was restless for something to push the boundary a bit.  I don’t even remember how I found the Shoreditch neighborhood of London.  One of those lost memories of falling in love with a city and discovering it anew each day. 

But I do remember it was different from any other part of London I had visited.  Shoreditch is full of artistic energy – you can feel the creation and imagination and experimentation all around you.  Alexander McQueen actually had his first studio in the area.

Every corner you turn there is amazing street art; daring, little stores; and welcoming yet inventive restaurants.  And then the beautiful, winding back streets – full of stories I’ll never know.  I kept coming back to Shoreditch during my time in London – and I always discovered something new – a new art gallery, a new food stand, an undercover sample sale.  And I always left feeling inspired.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Real Wicker Baskets

During the first week I lived in London, I took a walk down King's Road in Chelsea.  A young lady whizzed by on a bike that had a wicker basket attached to the handlebars.  It looked like it was right out of a Hugh Grant romantic comedy.  I figured it was just a one-off.  After awhile, though, I started seeing bikes with wicker baskets everywhere.  And the baskets were real wood, wicker -- not some fake plastic substitute made in China.  Often the wicker baskets were attached to the bike's handlebars with beautifully constructed leather straps.  There is something so incredibly British about these bike baskets -- how proper they look -- the willingness to spend the money and take the time to find an aesthetically pleasing, nicely crafted real wood wicker basket.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tennis Anyone?

Look, I know a lot of people detest John McEnroe.  Some people believe he was a spoiled brat who was disrespectful on the tennis court.  Many people take issue with his sexist comments about female tennis players and commentators.  But I love the guy.  First of all, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of tennis, both the technical game and its history.  Second of all, when Flushing Meadows was rebuilding its main tennis stadium for the U.S. Open, many people involved in the process opposed naming the stadium after Arthur Ashe.  John McEnroe lobbied passionately to have the stadium named after his good friend, Ashe; and eventually McEnroe was successful.

So I was over the moon when I saw a poster advertising that McEnroe would be playing in an exhibition match while I was in London.  Even better, the location of the match was just a ten minute walk from my flat.  The match was held in Royal Albert Hall, which is a grand performing arts center.  I was looking forward to the hilarious prospect of John McEnroe cursing and throwing tantrums in such a beautiful and historic building.

It was my first time seeing McEnroe play in person, and he didn't disappoint.  His awkward, jerking forehand.  His deft footwork.  His aggressive serve and volley game (which, sadly, is so rare in today's game).

Of course, McEnroe couldn't get through the match without a few histrionics, but most of it was in good fun -- teasing his opponent, joking with the crowd, and kissing the net after the ball scuffed the top of the net and dribbled over to the opponent's side of the court.  All in all, a fantastic night of tennis.