"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)