"Sometimes extravagance and luxery is conveyed by using something grand for a more pedestrian purpose." - from Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide.
"Even opening the dishwasher should be a joyful experience."
- from The Shabby Chic Home by Rachel Ashwell.
These two quotes have remained at the forefront of my consciousness when thinking about my home and the way that I live because these words are not just about surrounding yourself with pretty things for status or to make a statement to others. These words are about creating a personal quality of life that is meaningful to you. These words are about gifting yourself with little bits of joy in places where you least expect it. I derive happiness from using a pretty glass bottle to hold my dish washing soap. The bottle was $2, yet it adds a touch of luxury to my kitchen and makes washing the dishes a bit less of a chore. Rachel Ashwell expounded on this idea in her book, The Gift of Giving, when she addresses the mundane task of packing school lunches for her children.
"For me, preparing my children's lunches, what goes into them and the presentation, is a perfect opportunity to turn a task into a gift."
I had no children when I first read this, but I was a school librarian who was allowed about 15 minutes to eat a lunch, often at the circulation desk between classes, so this quote inspired me to gift myself a lunch every day that was pretty as well as tasty. If I had to work while I ate or hide out for a few minutes to eat, I at least had the momentary joy of eating from an aesthetically beautiful lunch. It was a small joy, but her words inspired me to insert beauty in an unexpected place and such things matter in your overall happiness, to your overall quality of life. Why shouldn't we have these little pockets of joy that comes from the visceral response of the aesthetically pleasing? Life is too short to deprive ourselves of simple pleasures.
As a librarian, I am well versed on books to recommend to patrons and I have recommended Rachel Ashwell's books with the same enthusiasm I use when speaking of the Brontes or Jane Austen. I read them cover to cover and learn as much from her words as I do the photos. The Junk Gypsies recently said on their show that they carried her books around like bibles as they were starting their business. I understand this completely and felt a kinship with them when I entered their wonderful shop for Rachel Ashwell's book signing last Saturday. Though they have their own specific flair, I could see her influence on them and it was grand.
Ms. Ashwell was as warm and charming as the best authors I've met through the years (which was a huge relief because I've experienced a fair number of really rude authors too). I have three new books on my reading list. Perhaps I'll be reading one of them at The Prairie, her beautiful new Bed and Breakfast in Round Top, Texas. Perhaps one day soon, I'll run into you there.
(This has been a repost from my other blog, Lone Star Lady Bird)
sMy son and I have found a nighttime routine that works for us, though others may disapprove. He's not asleep by 8 or even 9 o'clock. It's not his fault that he inherited from both parents a circadian rhythm that prefers to live at night, when our bodies and our minds are most alive. But I realize that we live in a world with a different clock so we climb into bed and read stories at about 10pm in our compromise with the the rest of society's schedule. After reading to him for about 20-30 minutes, he'll read to himself and I get to read my book. We love this time, and he makes sure that I have my book for myself before we lay down because he prefers me to have a book instead of a phone or a computer, and I am grateful that he appreciates the difference.
Lately, we've been lost in a world of fairy tales. He quietly reads through my childhood copies of Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk as I learn about a Russian fairy tale reading Eowyn Ivey's brilliant novel, The Snow Child. She mixes the fairy tale of an older childless couple that builds a child from snow, which then comes to life, with the rich details of the glorious and brutal realities of homestead living in the Alaskan wilderness in the early 20th century. She describes longing, love, death, desperation and cold in ways that are tangible. I've never been as isolated or cold as these characters, but I feel like I have. I miss it now that I'm done with the book. I want to return to this world where snow is both magical and harsh, where it brings both life and death, where snow can also be the center of so much warmth that winter becomes undeniably home.
Dolls have always had a hold on my imagination. Stories about dolls and dollhouses intrigued me as a child because I felt there was more truth than fantasy in them. Even as an adult I find myself wondering about the story of a doll I might find in a vintage shop. Vintage pin cushions made from dolls are a marriage of two loves for me, as I also love to sew. I worked on a few images this week that feature them in way meant to capture them in a moment or as characters in a bigger story. All images are available in my shop as prints, bags, or pillows. Blankets and such will be added soon. I hope you enjoy these pieces! They were fun to make, but tricky capture in just the right way. Dolls can have a mind of their own, you know.
It's the start of a new year and for Apples and Spindles that means the start of a new blog. Thank you to those who followed me from the first blog home. I've hit the ground running in 2016! Here are a few things happening so far...
Chicken Soup for the Soul will publish one of my stories in their upcoming book, My Very Good, Very Bad Cat. which will be released in February! It's a start in my return to writing and I am so happy to feel back in the swing of things. Lots of thanks to the Chicken Soup family!
I also owe many thanks to my husband for framing and hanging my show at the Georgetown Public Library. My book photography will be on exhibit there through the end of February!