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I Fish My Wish!

I have a Guardfish. Right now you are probably wondering, “What type of fish is that, and how does it taste”? I mean the kind that sits by the front door and watches over the house. You know, in case Cocoa is asleep on the job.

Guardfish.

So let me backtrack a little. I was shopping in a “nicer than I can afford” antique store and I saw this ceramic fish. I was intrigued by it, but I could not pay $65 for a ceramic fish. I went home a little sad, with no fish.

Ceramic fish.

A $65 Ceramic Fish.

The next day, I was shopping in the “a little more affordable GW & Co.,” and saw another fish. A plastic one for $4.44. I smiled and thought, “now this is more like it”.

I was so anxious to transform my fish before anyone actually saw what I had purchased, that I barely had time to get a picture in it’s original condition. I was even a little embarrassed by him in the checkout line. I always wonder what they think of my crazy purchases, but so it goes. One must suffer for one’s art.

Before Fish.

The fish is actually quite heavy for plastic, and has a bit of heft to him. I quickly slapped some white high-gloss paint all over him and let him dry overnight. I applied a second coat the next day and set him in the sun to dry.

During Fish.

 I love the shiny gloss finish on him. He is unexpected and a little bit quirky. Kind of like me.

Through the door.

Now, he sits by my front door in the vestibule and stands guard. Although admittedly, he is not very scary.

After Fish.

© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

My Little Corner of Paris

It has been exactly twenty-one years since I was in Paris. Traveling with an orchestra, I managed a break-away and had the afternoon all to myself. I wandered the streets, looking every part the tourist, wearing the most uncomfortable shoes! In spite of my aching feet, it was extraordinary. I will always remember the art and the cafés. And to this day, my common sense is always overruled when it comes to shoes.

I have a little corner in my kitchen that reminds me of Paris. Perhaps it is all the peeling and cracking paint on the nearby sunporch that evokes some sort of old-world charm, or just the rose-colored glasses I put on this morning, I am not sure which. But either way, my corner is French and it is where I go to drink my coffee.

My little corner of Paris.

I set up the gate-leg table against the wall and replaced the sci-fi sconce with an outdoor lantern. I put two chairs that I had from a bistro set with it and hung all the paintings I had collected over the years around it. Landscapes, birds, boats, you name it. The theme here was “French Country Clutter” and it works! My pots are hanging on the adjacent wall and the limited amount of space you have to stand up from your chair and hit your head on a pot is definitely European. I love it!

French Country Clutter.

Sometimes it is nice to be short.

I have to tell you about the sconce. It got a new life here in my Parisian corner when I purchased it from Community Forklift and painted it with black metal paint. I covered up the shiny brass and now it is transformed.

Brass Before.

Black After

Before with Sci-Fi Sconce.

I still have to paint the walls in the kitchen, and renovate the rest of it, but for now I am enjoying my little corner of Paris.
© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

Good News if You Are a Wino

I have a lot of corks hanging around. When my kindergartner had to bring in 100 of something for the 100-day celebration at school, I happily suggested wine corks. In order to avoid the suggestion that my daughter was being raised by one or more winos, I thought maybe we should do something creative with the corks. A sort of stealthy-recycling-camoflage project that would distract them from wondering why we had so many wine corks in our house. So, I gave this some thought.

100-Day Project, Cork Mirror.

100-Day Project, Cork Mirror.

Cork Mirror.

We bought a simple mirror with a wide frame and glued corks all over it. Not only is it decorative, but you can use push-pins to hang jewelry from it. It is useful and my daughter has had it ever since kindergarten. This is so easy to do, and the best part is collecting the corks.

Another good use of corks is as little mini-planters. I drilled holes into the corks, cut up an old magnet, and used super glue to attach the magnet to the backside of the cork. I planted little cactus plants in the holes and stuck them on the side of my refrigerator facing the window. I now have a charming little garden in an unusual spot.

Cork planters.

Cork is valuable and has endless possibilities for any do-it-yourself-type person. I recently saw a backsplash that was “tiled” with sliced corks and then sealed. If you use the end that was in the wine, you get a nice color variation. What a great idea, especially for a bar area.

I recently saw this quirky piece of art work as well, made almost entirely from corks. This is a fun piece of found art.

Cork Art seen in Oakland, California.

Next time you uncork a bottle of wine, don’t toss the cork. Save it until you have enough corks to make a trivet or coasters, or even just to remember which wines you like. You may get inspired to use them up for something cool. Just wait and see. This is very good news if you love to drink wine, or even if you just know of someone who does.
© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

SpongeBob and the Pineapple

My mouth is watering as I write this. All because of a tropical fruit, the pineapple.

Pineapple Garden Sculpture from Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

The pineapple has a uniquely American history and somewhat sordid past as a symbol of hospitality. It’s arrival in the colonies dates as far back as Christopher Columbus. This exotic fruit, which has a strong flavor both tart and sweet, is the reason my mouth is watering. It was first brought to the Americas from the islands of the Caribbean and the West Indies by sea captains. They had discovered it’s rough exterior, which oddly resembled a pinecone, disguised a sweet and juicy flesh.  Upon their return from sea, these captains would stake a pineapple outside of their home to indicate they had returned, triumphant.

Detail of a platter with pineapple.

Hostesses began to pay exorbitant fees just to have a pineapple on display at their table. The pineapple rapidly became the most desired of fruits and gained popularity among the wealthy as well as kings abroad for it’s exotic appeal. In the colonies, pineapples were elevated to a status symbol and indicated what lengths a hostess was willing to go to in order to impress her guests.

Pineapple carved bedpost.

The pineapple eventually found a comfortable place as a uniquely American symbol of hospitality. Pineapples now appear as carvings in furniture, on top of finials, and as garden ornaments, and they take their rightful place among the many early designs in American furniture.

Crystal Chandelier adorned with a pineapple.

The pineapple has truly established itself as a welcoming symbol, one that harkens back to the early days of our country and can be proudly displayed in your home.

Pineapple Bird Feeder.

However, some skeptics say the pineapple symbolizing hospitality is just a myth. I would argue that you need look no farther than the “SpongeBob Squarepants” cartoon as authority.

SpongeBob Squarepants, lego version.

SpongeBob lives in “a pineapple under the sea” where he regularly entertains Patrick and Squidward.  And as if this were not proof enough, almost every historical property or inn on the East Coast sports a pineapple somewhere in their home or garden.

Pineapple Candlestick.

Why not indulge in the myth of the native fruit as an early American symbol of hospitality? It is in fact a good story, whether it is true or not, and I will do my best to promote it as such.
© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.