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.

This Post Brought to You by…. Me!

Two of the decorating blogs that I read on a regular basis, both had posts about how pretty the Kleenex box is, on the same day. It was a Kleenex marketing invasion. God save me from this type of success. The first thing I do when I get sick is scour the house looking for the Puffs Plus with lotion, for the sake of my poor runny nose. I don’t care about the design of the Kleenex box. That is like trying to pretty up the toilet paper or the paper towels. I am just grateful we have tissues, and I’m not blowing my nose into a leaf, or a piece of Soviet newspaper.

Puffs Plus!

Puffs Plus!

I promise this post has not been sponsored by Puffs Plus.

In the news of The World’s Slowest Kitchen Renovation, I have a blind on my kitchen window! I also have an outrageous estimate for getting the window replaced with a larger window, but for now, I am thrilled to have a blind. The morning sun is brutal. My mom said she wasn’t able to do the dishes because the sun was in her eyes. This is tragic. I can’t risk losing an opportunity for someone else to do the dishes, so we installed a blind.

Ikea kitchen blind.

Ikea kitchen blind.

These blinds are wood blinds from Ikea. We have put them on all of our upstairs windows for privacy, but they come a little too wide for our windows. Long ago I bought one, just to see if we could trim it down, and it worked!

Downstairs in the office.

Downstairs in the office.

Using a jigsaw, we were able to trim that extra inch from one side of the blind, so they fit the window (by we, I mean Stuart). You can’t tell that they have been altered and we have saved lots of money this way. They cost was $25 per blind, which is an approximate savings of $1000 per window. Wood blinds that are not from Ikea cost a fortune.

Bedroom windows.

Bedroom windows.

The color match on these Ikea blinds is just right for our old wood trim. They come in white and blonde wood and several different sizes, and if you own a jigsaw, you can cut them to fit.

I promise this post has not been sponsored by Ikea either, although I am open to offers.

© copyright Mariam d’Eustachio 2014 at Simply Turquoise.

The Dead of Winter

I have no inspiring words for you. It is cold and dreary and if you were to take the first “i” out of inspiring, you would get in-spring. But alas, we are not in-spring yet. Even the groundhog has dashed our hopes with a forecast of six more weeks of winter. I can’t even blog because I am so easily distracted by Expedia offers and checking the “Wanna Get Away” deals on Southwest Airlines. The arctic, tundra-like landscape seems to be here for good.

But the other day, in the cool, crisp morning and freshly fallen snow, I was walking the dog and was struck by the quiet. There is nothing so still as a fresh snowfall. I seemed to be waiting an interminable amount of time for her to do her business, when I spotted the red head of a woodpecker. He was so bright in contrast to the white snow and the brown woods. He was singing his song and was alone in the landscape. This woodpecker was beautiful and my spirits were lifted. Perhaps, spring is not as far off as I think. In fact, we may already be over the hump.

So take heart! In between episodes of “Sherlock” and replacing the keys the baby keeps lifting off of my computer keyboard, I have a few projects simmering. I have officially started “The World’s Slowest Kitchen Renovation” with a found batch of hardware from Craig’s List. I scored 40 handles for $20. They are the shape I was looking for, but need to be painted. After consulting a friend who is a paint expert, I soaked them in a vinegar solution, primed and painted some of them. I have to wait for warmer weather to spray paint, but I have finished a few. Here is a sneak peak:

Vinegar solution.

Vinegar solution.

Primed.

Primed.

Painting.

Painting.

New hardware!

New hardware!

Okay, so far I’ve only done three.

What are you doing to shake this cold? I love to snuggle with my pup and drink some hot tea. Daydreaming about Benedict Cumberbatch warms me up a bit too. Excuse me, I think “Sherlock” is on again. Until next time!

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Budget Botanicals

I have a long, empty hall at the top of the stairs. It is one of two interior spaces that still need to be painted and nothing has motivated me to tackle it. It is narrow and boring, and until now, I have had no desire to take it on.

The dreary upstairs hall.

The “Biohazard” sign says it all.

Then, I saw this idea: an inexpensive way to bring nature into a windowless, upstairs hallway. An idea that has put a bee in my britches. I am aching to paint the hall now, if only to properly show off my newly created (Yes! By moi!) botanical prints.

Fern.

Fern.

These botanical prints were made on my phone, with leaves from my yard. I braved the January rain and cold to bring in a bit of nature. I first saw the idea on Pinterest from Better Homes & Gardens. Below is the inspiration photograph:

Pinned from Better Homes & Gardens.

Pinned from Better Homes & Gardens.

Better Homes & Gardens suggested using a scanner to scan leaves and print them out. The scanned plants were a little too real looking (um, it’s January and everything is brown) so I went for photographs instead, brightened with the exposure altered to give them a fresh look. I then chose “gallery style” mats with a regular 8×10 opening, and was able to print the photographs using my printer and photo paper. I purchased the frames from Michael’s on sale for $18 each and used most of the ink in my printer, I’m sure.

Bringing in a bit of nature.

Bringing in a bit of nature.

The large mat emphasizes the prints and gives them the gallery look that I was after. I will hang all three prints in a nice even row and it will give the hall a feeling of light and air as you walk along it. Now, I am inspired to paint the walls Benjamin Moore’s Green Hydrangea. This is the same color as my downstairs hall, which will provide continuity, since you can see both halls from the front door.

Goldfinger.

Goldfinger.

Cedar?

Cedar?

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This project was simple and inexpensive. I used leaves, but you could easily use feathers or fabric. Let your imagination run wild!

Feathers would look good too!

Feathers would look good too!

The botanicals are just what is needed in this dull space. Hallways are an opportunity to show a little spunk and I can’t wait to get this one started!

The Botanicals.

The Botanicals.

Up next, PAINT! And I still need to hang up these pictures…

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.