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Nighttime in New York

Inspiration. Where does it come from? 

That depends on you. Right now, life is too full. I am grasping at inspiration like a drowning victim reaching for air. Buried beneath a barrage of deadlines and yet still able to find hours to waste online. Craving a moment of beauty, no matter how insignificant. Reaching for hope.

Brooklyn Bridge walk to clear your mind!

Inspiration is for those that are alert, tuned in and ready to catch it when it comes, for it is fleeting. 

Inspiration is the glimmer in that homeless man’s eyes when you’ve just given him your gloves. Inspiration is a moment by the fire, laughing with friends. Inspiration is quiet and reflective, when you are worried about the well-being of your people. Inspiration is the grief that makes us carry on, in spite of ourselves.

Fountain in New York City!

Seek that which inspires you. Maybe it is the comfort of the holidays or your family. Maybe it is solace in your work or a walk in the woods. Maybe it is just curled up with a book. Pay attention, because as the philosopher Hannah Arendt says, “it is our duty to understand” and through inspiration comes understanding.

Love and friendship!

© Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise 2016.

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.

#Window Shopping

On a recent trip to Lynchburg, Virginia, I was able to spend some time just strolling around town with Prima. One advantage of having an older child is you can occasionally pretend they are adults. They are good company that way, when the mood strikes.

Living with a mini-tyrant (baby), who tries to rule the roost, we both feel the need to occasionally escape and engage in some therapy. In this case it was fantasy-retail therapy, which is almost as good as plain-old retail therapy.

I ♥ this window display!

I ♥ this window display!

The baby, a naturally advanced and highly-intelligent little individual, has mastered the art of the tantrum, at 18 months.

Urban Merchant display

Notice the little bird cage light fixture!

We needed an outing, and on this excursion, we even found some new friends: Meet Margo. She was a little camera shy.

Margo.

Meet Margo.

These little downtown areas are a great way to find inspiration. Away from box stores, you can stop in artsy shops, or just draw inspiration from their edgy and unique window displays. It is this show of creativity that lures you inside and tries to separate you from your money. For me, this is living on the edge.

Downtown Lynchburg, Virginia.

Downtown Lynchburg, Virginia.

To save you the suspense, they did get a little of my money. I can’t wait to show you the cool light fixture I bought for the office. But right now, I think I hear a tantrum coming on…. Until next time my dear readers, if I am still sane.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

An Easy Spring Garden Wreath

I love wreaths. However, we have a sordid past and I am a little scarred as a result. It involves Martha Stewart + cranberries + 1 foam wreath form. I am a glutton for punishment, as I have attempted the Martha Stewart cranberry wreath 3 times, in my sordid wreath past. The first time was a gift for my mother-in-law and I came away, six hours later, with bloody fingers and cranberry stained hands. I did give her a gorgeous wreath that year, but all I could think was, “Damn that Martha Stewart!”

http://www.marthastewart.com/924286/how-make-cranberry-wreath

The second time I made two smaller cranberry wreaths. I stood back to admire my handiwork, as the wreath hanging on the left side of the twin doors I was decorating, came crashing down. The foam broke into a million pieces, scattering cranberries all over the porch. I cried and vowed to end my wreath-making career then and there.

A Square, Spring Garden Wreath.

A Square, Spring Garden Wreath.

So, wreaths and I are not on such great terms. But, I do love them so!

This wreath is easy. And Spring-like! It only took about an hour to make. I used fresh greenery, so it will not last forever. I love the square shape. Who says wreaths have to be round or oval?

A big bunch of greenery.

A big bunch of greenery.

Wire.

You can use floral wire.

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I cut greenery, from a completely overgrown bush in my backyard that had a small leaf that resembled boxwood.

Then, I wired together the stems, maintaining the square shape as I went along. I used enough stems to create a sturdy structure that would hold the square shape and used a stick across the top to keep it straight.

Wreath in process.

Wreath in process.

I cut a strip of leftover fabric that has a burlap-esque look to it, to hang it with. I did not have any burlap, which would have been ideal for the ribbon.

I love this piece of leftover fabric.

I love this piece of leftover fabric.

After a four-year hiatus from wreaths, I have decided to conquer this simple and elegant square-shaped wreath, and will enjoy it on my front door until it wilts, which will probably be tomorrow.

A Fresh Garden Wreath.

A Fresh Garden Wreath.

 Until then, Happy Spring!

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio.

Life in Cards

Every year, there are several “Christmas letters” that come in the mail, via snail mail, that I anxiously await. I cannot describe the anticipation that I feel knowing that these will come, with an update about several people and families that I feel so close to, but yet do not see very often.

The most beautiful handwriting.

The most beautiful handwriting.

One letter, comes on a black and white card with a snow-covered scene of New York City, or thereabouts, and is hand-written in the most beautiful script. The kind that came with hours of practice, a fine pen, and an attention to detail that is all too lacking in this day and age. It is from my old flute teacher, a reminder that I did in fact learn so much from him, not just how to be a musician. He shaped the person I am today.

Washington Square Park, New York City

Washington Square Park, New York City

© Bedrich Grunzweig

© Bedrich Grunzweig

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Another letter, arriving punctually just before the 25th of December, is from a family that we have known for years, has helped us out and put us up in their home, with only company, wine, and a few laughs in return. They link us to the Coast Guard and remind us that my husband’s career as the  Coast Guard flying-lawyer was real as well. They took us under their wing and continue to do so. Their Christmas letter is full of funny antics about their five children, and usually we all breathe a sigh of relief, as by the end, we do hear about their accomplishments as well.

HH65 Coast Guard Helicopter Cartoon.

HH65 Coast Guard Helicopter Cartoon, proof of the Coast Guard in our lives.

The last letter comes trickling in and just arrived yesterday. This family celebrates Christmas on Orthodox time and their letter truly marks the end of the season. It is full of thoughtful reflections from the previous year, adventures abroad, and children who we will surely vote for one day, as they are both Presidential material: the Next American Dynasty.

Papyrus Stained Glass Card.

Papyrus Stained Glass Card.

I have tried to figure out why I love these letters so much. Is it a reminder of our past, so exciting at times? Is it the physical beauty of the handwriting or of the card itself? I cannot explain the importance of this tangible aspect to it. In this digital era we live, something is lost in the hustle and bustle of fast communication. Not to mention my handwriting has practically gone the way of the doctor’s script. Or maybe I just have sensory issues.

Griffins.

Griffins.

Griffins description.

Griffins description, on the back of the card.

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+++I am not a fan of New Years’ resolutions, but next year, I resolve to write a Christmas letter, no matter how busy we are. I will find a suitable pen first, and some beautiful paper. I will gather photographs from the year. I will write our family Christmas letter, with all the nostalgia I can muster, on a beautiful, tangible, Christmas card.

© copyright Mariam d’Eustachio 2013.

Jack London and His Square.

If you threw a rock from Jack London Square in Oakland, you could hit Alaska. Well, at least the cabin Jack London lived in, during the Yukon gold rush in Alaska. Seeing that log cabin, so basic and an obvious tool of survival and necessity, surrounded by palm trees and a beautiful harbor, is a strange site. A place where two worlds collide. Jack London, famed author of The Call of the Wild, The Sea WolfWhite Fang and other classic American novels and stories, is from Oakland, California. Thy have honored his memory and commemorated his work right in the middle of the city.

Jack London’s Alaskan cabin in Oakland, California.

This is a lovely tribute to Jack London and a reminder of the Alaskan frontier and the history of our great American West. Nearby, the Oakland farmer’s market, is the place to be on a weekend. The food, the produce, the colors, the art, are all a testament to the bounty that California has to offer.

California produce.

Artichokes.

California seems so innovative. Buildings have green things growing up the sides (on purpose), the art is built into the streetscape, and soul food is offered up vegan. Only in California.

Lamppost.

I tasted everything at the market: jams, olive oil, juicy nectarines, cherries, samosas and watched and chatted with an islander making pizza.  What an amazing place where so many cultures and backgrounds come crashing together and the result is this open-air market.

One day I will have one of these in my backyard.

The Art Show boasted everything from sculpture, to 3-dimensional works made with found objects like sticks, corks, and paint chips, to abstract art focused on color. These local artists displayed creative and novel pieces that could add charm or a conversation piece to any living room.

The farmer’s market in Oakland is a reminder that in Maryland, we raise chickens, but in California, they raise produce. The bounty is incredible and the scents, tastes, smells, and scenery add up to an inspiring and rich experience.

Jack London Square Mural.

If you ever find yourself in Oakland, go to the market and meet up with Jack London.

© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

A Very Expensive Fig Tree

I have just chosen the colors for my new house. I know this may come as a shock to you, since you didn’t know we were getting a new house. But we are and I am very excited. The best part is, it is just across the driveway, only next door. I no longer have to steal the figs, herbs, and flowers from their yard. I can stop yelling at my dog for pooping on their lawn. It will soon be my fig trees, my lawn, my herbs and my bay plant.

The fig tree, my favorite fruit.

This new house is quite different from our current house. I won’t tell a lie, it does need a little updating and work, but the bones are good. I am excited to have more space, more closets, and for the first time ever, a garage! It is a craftsman era house, but with a more traditional layout. All of the original woodwork is still unpainted and intact. And yes, in case you were wondering, we are buying this one, jumping in with both feet.  So if you were considering investing in the real estate market right now, you may want to reconsider, as we have a most horrible real estate track record and this could be considered a “bad indicator”.

View of our new house, from our current house.

Our new house, from the front.

The Colors!

I am looking forward to showing you the progress as we renovate this house and turn it into our home. I have chosen the paint colors for the main floor, using as inspiration a set of ottoman/stools I bought recently. They have a woven top that resembles a beautiful rug with pale blues and greens mixed in. I am going to use cool colors in this house which is a trick for making the walls recede and the rooms feel a little larger.

A pair of stools with a woven top.

Of course, changing things up will be fun. The colors are from Benjamin Moore’s latest collection called “Color Stories”. These paints have no filler colors and are made with pure pigment. This color collection is inspired by nature and will bring depth to the walls and add a richness that you can’t achieve with a regular paint. The colors will change throughout the day with the light keeping it interesting. I can’t wait to show you the results. Here is a peak at the colors I have picked, of course, subject to change on a whim.

“Color Stories” by Benjamin Moore.

In order from left to right:  shiitake mushroom, picnic basket, mystic lake, rainstorm, and spring has sprung.

 This new house is a practical decision for us and I have been itching for a change. I am looking forward to this new adventure and to being able to eat as many figs as I want. If the neighbors ask nicely, I might be willing to share.

© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.