A Summer Party!

I blame Pinterest. However, the photograph below is not from Pinterest, but from my backyard last Friday evening.

 

A Summer Party!

A Summer Party!

I have a beautiful yard, a beautiful husband, and a knack for stressing him out with my big ideas. I wanted to celebrate his 40th birthday in style while he just wanted to forget about it.

Diane Daly's Jazz Trio.

Diane Daly’s Jazz Trio.

Pinterest is eye candy for decorator types. Stunning visuals at your fingertips that make one lust for all things better around the house.

A "Cheesecake".

A “Cheesecake”.

Last Friday evening I threw a party that was worthy of Pinterest. Except it was better. On Pinterest you don’t get to hear the jazz trio playing, or taste the lobster canapés. You don’t get to feel the breeze, smell the wildflowers or watch the candlelight glimmer and the children run around with sparklers. It was magical and it was REAL.

A Cake Made of Cheese

A Cake Made of Cheese

Then there was the cheese. I made a cake out of cheese. This “cheesecake” was made of Fontina, an organic smoked Creamy Jack, and Camembert. I cut up fresh figs and sprinkled the cheese with blackberries. I used mini chalkboards for labels. It was enough cheese to please Wallace, Gromit and a hoard of people at my party. It was both easy and elegant, perfect for a beautiful summer evening.

© Mariam d’Eustachio @ Simply Turquoise 2014.

My Fair Lady

I have had a crush on this girl for over a year. I first saw her at Behnke’s, our local nursery, and was caught off guard by her beauty.

My Fair Lady.

My Fair Lady.

But I resisted. I saw her again on occasional trips, seeming regal among the plants and a bit out of place; I would sigh and move along.

A glass bust.

A glass bust.

A year later, she was on sale. Just like that she was suddenly 50% off. I wondered why she had been cast off in this way. Unappreciated. It seemed cruel.

A non-traditional bust.

A non-traditional bust.

I love the mix of classical form and modern material. The glass creates an effervescent quality about her that makes her unique. She is not a traditional bust.

A glass bust.

A glass bust.

Now she has found her home. It is true art can be found anywhere if you keep your eyes open, even in the most unexpected places!

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Only Mostly Dead

This was a harsh winter. The only plants that seemed to survive were the weeds. My bay plant, rumored to be more than 50 years old, died. We cut it down and this is all that’s left.

The Bay Stump.

The Bay Stump.

It was fragrant as we burned the old bay branches, in a funeral pyre sort of way. As we were chopping down and burning up the old bay plant, my mind was wandering and worrying about the nearby fig trees. I would go outside and snap a branch and hold my breath and hope that it was just late to leaf out and that these two fig trees were sleepy and taking their time to unfold after this extreme winter.

Just "mostly dead."

Just “mostly dead.”

Then I saw a little green! Turns out, the fig trees are only “mostly dead.” In the movie The Princess Bride, Miracle Max declares Wesley “mostly dead.” The trees are leafing out from the base of the trunk and I am going to need Miracle Max to come and help me coax them back to life. I will call my uncle, a botanist, and ask him for help: he’s a little like Miracle Max for trees.

There is hope!

There is hope!

Perhaps their intentions are noble and the fact that I love them will be enough. The fig trees know that I bought this house just for them. They have listened to me play my flute outside the window for the last couple of months. Together we have suffered through hours of practicing as I prepared to play principal flute in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Then again, maybe this has contributed to their demise.

This clip is from a recent concert, taken on the sly from my friend’s lap. Her skirt is lovely isn’t it? This  bit of the third movement is a piece of what the trees have been listening to from outside the window. Have a listen if you want to know what I’ve been up to lately and let me know how your plants fared this winter!

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

Last weekend, in less than 24 hours, I drove down to Lynchburg and back again. My friend Margo and I were on a mission to clean the house and get it ready for sale. She had no idea what she was in for!

 The Pearl Street House.

The Pearl Street House.

Stuart and I bought this house 7 years ago, thinking it was our place to settle down, forever.

In the way of “best laid plans of mice and men,” it did not work out. The job was not a good fit for Stuart and it was clear that it was time to head home to Maryland. This was sad in many ways as it meant the end of Stuart’s career as a helicopter pilot. We said goodbye to the type of friends that are all too rare. As I think of it now, it brings tears to my eyes: I loved Lynchburg,Virginia and I loved what Stuart had become, through his commitment and dedication to serving those in need.

From the Top of the Stairs.

From the Top of the Stairs.

The house was the one piece of Lynchburg we still had. It made me feel as if I still had a foot in that town.

The Living Room.

The Living Room.

It was comforting to think of it standing on the hill, a stalwart since 1880. A house with so much character and history that I felt I was doing a service to society just by owning it. It was an adventure from the start, and the children even discovered a secret passage.

Just one of many fireplaces.

Just one of many fireplaces.

An old chandelier.

An old chandelier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The real estate market is brutal and we will take our lumps once again.

View to the porch through a dirty window.

View to the porch through a dirty window.

But at the same time it will free me. Selling that house will free me to be in the now, to fully appreciate my current surroundings and to let the roots run deep. Our home is in Maryland. We have family, friends and space to run. We have a community here. I will never forget Lynchburg or the people I love there. That house has been standing on Diamond Hill since 1880, and the past seven years have only been a brief part of that long history.

Saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye.

It is time to say goodbye and let the next chapter in this home’s history begin.

 © copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

 

 

2014 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival!

This is a public service announcement: The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is coming up!

Catalog Cover Art by Ken McNeill.

Catalog Cover Art by Ken McNeill.

The last couple of years, I have blogged about this amazing fiber festival that happens every year in Howard County, Maryland. You can read about 2012 here, and 2013 here. It is the largest festival of its kind on the East Coast.

2012 Catalog Cover by artist Deanna Williford.

2012 Catalog Cover by artist Deanna Williford.

May 3rd & 4th, you are booked and will travel to the Howard County Fairgrounds. You are going to eat lamb kabobs and start your Christmas shopping. You are going to learn how to knit or crochet. You will hear my neighbor, voted “Best Old Storyteller,” tell stories. (He has this one about Davy Crockett that I just love.) Bill Mayhew has been on the program at the Sheep & Wool Festival since Davy Crockett was in Congress.

Bill Mayhew, best shot in the west.

Bill Mayhew, best shot in the west.

You can see working Border Collies herding sheep in an arena. You can see lots of sheep, or buy one if you are so inclined. You can try out a spinning wheel. You can hear banjos play while eating a scoop of ice cream and watch wooden puppets bob up and down to the music.

2013 Catalog Cover art by Meg Page.

2013 Catalog Cover art by Meg Page.

Bring your wallet as this visit will most certainly damage your finances. But, it is a feast for the senses, a magical experience, and I hope to see you there. This festival makes me proud to be a Marylander.

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eusatchio at Simply Turquoise. Images used from the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival website.

Community Forklift!

My dear readers, I have been neglecting you. I am sorry. There is so much news to share, I am not sure where to start!

Recognize that huge Rothko poster?

Recognize that huge Rothko poster? Me and the baby (my sister is holding the camera) shopping in 2012.

I am working full-time. I know, right? Weird. I have never worked full-time in my life. Not counting the full-time mommy-ing, the orchestral musician and teacher thing, or even the part-time office manager-ing thing or blog thing I have been doing lately. Somehow, I have managed to combine an insane work-a-holic type ethic without ever actually holding a full-time job. I am expecting my therapist to call any minute now.

My new playground.

My new playground.

Yet, everything has fallen into place. I have found the quirkiest, funkiest place to work! I am working as the Office Manager for Community Forklift. This place promotes the careful deconstruction of building materials for reuse. Their motto is: “the greenest building material is the one that already exists.” If I could ever take a break long enough to walk around the 34,000 square foot warehouse, I would be in heaven, and probably broke too.

My dining room chandelier.

My dining room chandelier: a diamond in the rough.

We Americans waste so much. Community Forklift saves something like a ga-zillion tons of trash from going into the landfill by collecting donated building supplies. That little trinket you lost from your faucet? We’ve probably got one. A cracked tile? No worries… we may have a replacement.

An aisle of ceramics.

An aisle of ceramics.

No doubt Community Forklift rewards the creative mind that can piece things together. That is often how you wind up with something truly unique, like the old church cornice that now sits in my dining room as an architectural piece.

I have found art, antiquities, garden supplies, and light fixtures. With some elbow grease and creativity, you can bring a little old, quirky or upcycled element of design into your home. I encourage you to come on over to Community Forklift and think outside the box. I may even be able to come down and meet you.

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Decorating Tips from a High-Strung Dog

The other day, the dog whispered in my ear. She told me to rearrange the living room. She wanted her sofa back, and she wanted it in front of the window where she can look out. Actually, she was not whispering at all, but barking loudly because I was sitting in her seat, which prompted me to rearrange. Again.

Cocoa's perch.

Cocoa’s perch.

She was right. We should all be able to enjoy the view outside.

Cocoa's Living Room.

Cocoa’s Living Room.

I moved the blue chairs to my office, moved the other sofa back in, and it is good this way.

We can focus on the view.

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.