Thank you for following little me as I go about each day on my adventures!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

birthday greetings

I am old today.
I don't even want to discuss the number as I am having a hard time believing it myself.

I don't feel old.
Not really.
I do have the odd soreness in my back it's true, but I like to think it's directly linked to lugging a seventeen month old baby on my hip all day.
I don't think I look old - the esthetician I visited for my surprise birthday facial yesterday said I had great skin and that she never would have guessed I was...
So I've got that going for me.

But, I am indeed, old.

Funny thing is I don't feel this number.
I'm not sure what this number is supposed to feel like - but I think I can guarantee it ain't this.

Baby alarm woke me at the usual 7:30am this morning and my day began. We padded thru her Oma and Opa's log house to the kitchen to fix up her favorite toddler breakfast and then some quiet time cuddling on the couch looking at the amazing view of the snowy wilderness around us. I got my camera out to take photos of the sun rising over the tree tops and reminded myself, again, to sign up for some classes to learn how to use this thing.
I think I did okay.
Then outside in her first snow suit to look at her first snow for the first time.

I am older today but I don't feel older - I just feel happy.
And blessed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Took this photo a couple of weeks ago - It tickled me to see this palm tree growing out of the storm drain on a side street in East L.A.
How does something like this go...unnoticed?
Shouldn't someone take action?
Is this not a structural danger?
I mean, uh...HELLO.... There's a PALM TREE growing out of a STORM DRAIN people!
That can't be good, can it?
These things keep growing don't they? and they get pretty big too.

Once I got over the shock of it, the surreal feeling of seeing this, it made me incredibly happy.

How fantastic!
This palm growing in the most unlikely place, in the most inhospitable conditions.

If this does not teach me to persevere in the face of adversity....well, then, nothing will.

Perhaps I'll make it my mascot.

I'm heading back this week for a quick buying trip and I'm planning on checking in on this fella.

It's a bit of a challenge to think 'winter' and 'Christmas' when I'm in that sunny clime - I find myself dreamily handling the gauze and printed cotton sundresses. Buying for the shops becomes an exercise in restraint some days...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I am not letting the reality of Christmas fast approaching get me down.
I have a million projects for the shops half finished - they won't sell very well half finished. I must make/find the time to complete these things.
I know that I am not alone.
I just feel that way.

It's been a crazy time lately - a quick little buying trip to L.A (it was fantastic - I brought back so much great stuff) the subsequent day spent at Customs dealing with the shipment from my buying trip, and then all the paperwork that has been gathering dust on my desk all month. Not to mention the everyday drama's of being a mom, entrepreneur and uhm...woman.

Busy month indeed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

As some of you are discovering, I am a great horder of things. My Dutch Husband would probably take exception to the 'great' part of that statement but that's another story...
In all the purging and organizing and general simplifying of life that is going on around here lately, I stumbled over a box of broken china - before a collective gasp ensues, it was a horded box of broken china. It was already broken when the hording began.
I have been keeping, and adding to, this box of 'junk' over the years - if you have to ask why then you might wanna skip this post.

I have big plans for this box.
Back when I first opened the store I did an enormous mosaic in the front windows. I also sold a few pieces of furniture that I had worked my broken china magic on.
If you've ever done this kind of work then you will know how time consuming and challenging it can be. Needless to say I burnt out and haven't touched a pair of tile nippers in awhile.
This box of broken yummyness has been waiting for two 'big plan' ideas.

One - a series of stepping stones for my garden, featuring different rose plates broken and then "repaired" as the central motif. These would then be found winding in and out of what is turning out to be a rather wild cottage garden. I have 30 stepping stones.

Two - my masterpiece - the front facings of the cement stairs to my house. Again with the rose plates (did I mention I have a 'thing' for pretty rose plates?) re-assembled in their shattered glory and having the added practicality of the house number nipped out in black tile on the very last top step.
My husband is appalled.
The big plans have been on hold for awhile.

Cut to the other morning when baby and I went for a rainy morning stroll and I discovered this walkway in my neighborhood! It is a mix of tile, pebbles and what I can only guess to be painstaking pottery pieces especially made for this project. Incredible.

I stood there agog.
It was the entire walkway. I don't even remember if they continued up the stairs - I was in such shock by it's brilliance I don't remember looking up. I will have to return to see what they did to the stairs and report back.
It is incredible.
It made me happy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

There is a bright spot in the midst of my dreary studio organizing ....a book signing!

This Thursday, at the Main street location of Barefoot Contessa, we will be hosting a book signing for the fantastic "Handmade Nation" author Faythe Levine.
She is in town promoting the showing of her indie documentary (based on the book) and I'm pretty excited about meeting her and having her in the shop available to sign books and greet her fans.
It's a whirlwind visit for Faythe but she will be available from 3-4:30 this Thursday.

Cupcakes and pink lemonade are in order.
I am completely crazy to attempt to bake cupcakes with my now crawling toddler trying to help at every turn, but I feel the occasion warrants a cupcake or two. ..

Please, do come out and say hello to Faythe and support this great documentary - tickets are still available and you can check out Handmade Nation at her blog -

We will have books available for purchase at the signing if you don't already own a copy (and really, you should, it's a great source of inspiration)

This is gonna be fun!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

never again

Never again will I hoard vintage treasures!
I swear it.
I have spent all day, ALL DAY, in the old studio that I am quickly vacating, going thru boxes and boxes of stuff. Awesome stuff, but nonetheless, argh!
Why do I do this to myself? I have 5 days left to the end of the month and I hardly made a dent! Two full trailer loads and still I am wading thru vintage hats, teacups, gorgeous old linens.....double argh!

What is worse, I keep finding crafting stuff - don't get me wrong, crafting stuff is fantastic but this much of it? I don't realize that I already have loads of felt and buy more, or saucers to turn into little mirrors, or linens to be reborn as pillows....the list goes on and on.

I will take photos to show you my madness. Then it will be out there and official and I will be shamed into being a good girl. Walking the straight and narrow...

(Of course, all this drama didn't stop me from hitting a thrift store this morning and finding an old fisherman's creel! woo hoo!
I've been wanting one of these for ages!
Gonna hang it on the front door and put flowers in it. It's gonna be awesome!)

Now, what was I saying?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

a work in progress

That's what my house is, a work in progress.
Unfortunately, with a small baby, not much progress.
It seems to take me forever to get anything done - I think that is the single hardest thing to accept with my new role as mommy. The sheer number of hours to make a dent in any given project.
Gone are the days where I could apply myself to a task for hours at a time, uninterrupted, till it was done.

I would not change my state for anything - I adore my baby and this adventure I am on - I just wish I could wave a magic wand and have dishes wash themselves, laundry fold and dinner prepare itself!
Notice how I would not use the magic on my many craft projects....I want to do those myself!
Magic is for getting the mundane out of the way - not the creative.
Doing the creative has it's own magic....

Unable to throw anything out.
That's what Gordon, my Dutch husband, says is my biggest problem.
I protest, but secretly, I agree.
I just can't help myself - I find uses for things, I see beauty in the ugly and worn.
Funnily enough he's almost as bad as I am - this past weekend we finally managed to get the boulevard garden started.
I may have contributed the shabby wicker chair/now spiffy planter to the project, but HE dragged home the slabs of concrete he'd found to use as our stepping stones.
Me: shabby chair
Him: hunks of concrete destined for the landfill
Uhm.....isn't that the pot calling the kettle.....

I am really pleased with my little garden so far.
It needs some ground cover around the 'steps' and the jasmine vine to grow over the chair to be spectacular, but we'll get there.
We moved some unhappy lavender plants and pansies to this new spot and it looks like they have cheered up immensely. A small lilac cutting from a neighbour will also be added shortly - my hope is to have a lush little tableaux to look out on (instead of street traffic) when we are dining on the front porch.

Our neighbours one street over have the most amazing boulevard - in front of almost every home is a wonderful garden. It's so lovely to walk down the sidewalk surrounded by lush greenery and the jumbled scent of blossoms.
There are only a few of us on this street with plants out on our boulevard - but it's a start!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I have been busy digging into boxes and boxes of my horded treasures.
(I have the excuse of hording items because I like to say that they are to sell in the shops, but I find that I don't seem to ever let them get to the shops)
Till now.

As a result, I have been doing allot of polishing of silver.
So much so, I find I am beginning to dislike polishing all this silver.
This is outrageous comment for me as I adore polishing silver.
I like to have it gleaming and on display around my house.
I am humbled by the sheer volume of stuff that I have accumulated.

I am trying very hard to let go of these pretty things and fill the shops with these treasures.

The only way I am allowing myself to keep anything is if I can use it. Right now. Preferably in some unexpected way. I must either replace and 'upgrade' what is existant or find a way to use the new piece immediately. I end up having to 'think outside the box' and now my makeup is safely hidden from view in a silverplated entree dish. Q-tips artfully arranged in a pretty gravy boat and my cottonballs in a lidded sugar pot. It makes for an awesome bathroom!
I've also hit upon the idea of using the "missing it's twin" sugar or creamers as little vases. To make this work I have to superglue a florist frog into the bottom of them.
So far, so good.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It has something to do with my Catholic background - I simply cannot pass up a good saint.
I adore them.
I build obscure little shrines around the house, in my car and in the shops.
Imagine my delight when I found these matchboxes!
Now I can have my beautiful crazy altars, candles and pretty matches to light up my good intentions!

these just make me happy!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

In keeping with my resolution to simplify and de-clutter my life, I have been trying to start and actually COMPLETE tasks.
Seems simple enough, but for someone of my temperament - it's near impossible.
It's not that I can't complete tasks - I do.
I just have ALLOT of tasks going on. All at the same time.
Knitting projects, sewing projects, painting projects, refinishing, crafting, designing, writing, blah, blah, blah...and the list goes on.

What I am attempting to change is my approach - I will focus on one task at a time and finish it. Completely finish it.
As in, make so many that I won't have to make more for a very long time.
Normally I make a few of something, price and put into the shops. Now, I will make more than we need, exhaust myself and the supplies, and then move on to the next project.
Brilliant, no?

I envision myself emptying my studio, in a beautifully methodical way, of all the half finished projects.

I am giddy with optimism.

It was in this spirit that I began to tackle the boxes and boxes of vintage teacups and silver teapots that have been waiting for their moment in the shops.
I actually like washing dishes and polishing silver - it's one of those lovely satisfying tasks that is so Zen in it's simplicity.
However, one or two is Zen - dozens and dozens - not so much.
As a result, this job just keeps getting moved to the bottom of the list.

Until last night.

A couple of boxes done and a load of gleaming gorgeous teapots just waiting to be shown off in the shop windows.
I even managed to lighten my personal stash of beautiful old teapots - one of which sold today.

I won't lie to you, it hurt to see it go out the door, but it also felt strangely... good.

This is one of those times where "little barefoot baby" and "barefoot contessa living" will have a wee crossover - I have to show you these little boots. Embroidered satin. I can barely stand it. Love them so much!
I keep saying that I will be bringing them into the far....still deciding which pair I want to keep for the offspring.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I have been working on these collage candles of late....till late. My only opportunity to craft has been in the wee hours, when Amalia is asleep.
It's been so great to get back into my studio and putter about.
I am doing a 'line' of these - collage and mixed media - candles, matchboxes, journals, notepads and cards.
My use of glitter is bordering on abuse, but I sure like the results!
So far I've finished the candles and cards - the journals are taking a bit longer as I just keep adding to them. I want to have bits and pieces of found items tucked inside - little surprises to discover.
Years ago I bought a journal from famed Found Cat artist Anna Corba, it was amazing - bits of old ephemera tucked inside and odd little stamps here and there. You couldn't help leafing thru just to see what inspiration was already hidden inside this 'blank' book. It was so much fun to write in - such a treasure. I am hoping my humble journals contain a similar magic to them.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I am in the midst of trying to organize the bolts of fabrics, baskets of trim and overwhelming amount of vintage bits and bobs that I have's a treasure hunt and Christmas morning all rolled into one.
Trying to make sense of the mountains of stuff that has rendered my studio impossible to work in. Literally.
How could I have forgotten about that tablecloth or this bit of lace or....fill in the blank.

It's exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.

I am itching to sew, knit, crochet, sketch....DO SOMETHING.
Impossible until I organize and render this less a storage room and more an organized inspiration.

My renewed creative spirit needs parameters.
I will use all that I have stockpiled and collected over the years!
I promise that I will sort it as I go along!

Unearthing treasures long forgotten and with them, hopefully, my original idea of what they were intended for.

A crumbling children's book with letterpress pages just begging to be framed. Needlepoint napkins calling out for transformation (baby bibs perhaps? pockets on skirts?) and bags of vintage buttons....

Growing up I remember my mother saving the buttons from our old clothes. This was always the final step for any exhausted item of clothing - she could transform my fathers tired shirt into a little dress for me and the scraps added to an ongoing quilt.
I get a warm homey feeling just looking at old cards of buttons.
Like the heroine Amelie dipping her hands into sacks of grain - I get that same pleasure from handling my vintage tins of pearl buttons.
The unlimited possibilities gladden my heart.

Friday, January 9, 2009

juicy jewels

I adore Earl Grey tea. There is something so immensely satisfying about a steaming cup of fragrant bergamot tea, don't you think? Add a lavender shortbread biscuit and I am in heaven.
Honestly, nothing cheers me up as much as this combination...well, that and a pretty setting.

I had just that this afternoon, when I caught up with Tracey Wood, the designer of the gorgeous jewelry line Juicy Jewels. Sitting in her beautiful heritage home, catching up and doing the nearly impossible task of choosing pieces for the shops.
I am so thrilled and happy to say that Juicy Jewels are back at Barefoot Contessa!
This incredible line manages to be delicate, romantic and edgy all at the same time. Each piece is so lovely, so charming, so...must have!
Tracey casts most of the pendant pieces herself from vintage buttons or other bits of antique loveliness that she stumbles upon (trips to New York and the flea markets there have given her so much to work from) The attention to detail is fantastic - from the afterthought of a seed pearl to the off-centre drop of a faceted stone.
I may have to keep one of her necklaces made from an antique bit of handpainted floral porcelain for myself. It's incredible.
An extensive selection will be available in both shops next week.
I, for one, can't wait.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

new beginnings

It's an old photo.
Before the birth of my daughter Amalia Rose, before expanding my little shop to two locations, the death of my father and the downturn in the economy.
A simpler time.

My life has changed so much since this photo was taken for a newspaper article on my planting gardens in front of the shop. I've made mistakes (more than I'd care to admit to) and also had some success - the best being my little baby girl.
I have made a career of encouraging people to live with lovely things, use them, enjoy them, wear them.
Not for me the cupboard of 'good plates' to only see the light of day when a fancy occasion presents itself.
I adore living with my vintage china, clawfoot tub and chandeliers (in every room - even the nursery!) I hope to instill an appreciation of 'all things lovely' in my daughter, a love of the old, the worn, the meaningful.

I have always taken my New Year's Resolutions very seriously, I ponder and reflect and plan for the coming year what I would like to achieve, change and encourage. I think 2009 will be the year of re-invention. For myself personally and for my shops - a simplifying, a going back to the beginning and doing what I do best.
Barefoot Baby will launch this year, starting with an expansion of the baby section in the shops, a renewed dedication to designing for Barefoot Contessa, and the return of vintage treasures that I have collected over the years.
A simpler, prettier, and hopefully happier 2009 to everyone!