Tag Archive | decorating

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.


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.

Full Circle Farm

My grandmother is one interesting lady. If that has peaked your interest, go read her recently published memoir: Tempered With Fire, by Barbara Knox. At first I was worried that writing a blog would be too public, but then I read Grandma’s book and realized, there are no secrets left in this family. My little blog was nothing compared to her tell-all life and times growing up in Oklahoma, being married to a powerful doctor, surviving a horrible car accident, her twelve-year relationship with a woman, and toward the end of his life, re-kindling the relationship with my grandfather. This memoir is not for the faint of heart. Grandma is 88 and still full of life and spitfire, and I have always admired her.

Tempered With Fire by Barbara Knox.

In 1990 Grandma purchased a 150-acre farm, in south-central Pennsylvania, by herself. Her plan was to re-do the old farmhouse, have a big vegetable garden, and preserve some acreage for woods, walking, and a little peace and quiet. Of course this was a weekend farm, as she still worked during the week. The amazing thing is, she did it.

Sugar Maple at Full Circle Farm.

The beautiful sugar maple tree in front of the farm is a sight to behold and makes me feel glad for the coming fall. It evokes images of the wood-stove, apple pie, shelves lined up with canned goodies from the garden, and days and days of stripping wallpaper from the old plaster walls.

Vegetable garden.

Canned goodies from the garden







In my teenage years, I probably ingested my fair share of dust, grime and lead from that farm, helping Grandma whenever I could get up there for a visit. We spent many holidays there and this time of year brings all that nostalgia for the old farmhouse right back.

Do Not Enter: The Parlor.

Grandma decorated the farmhouse with comfort in mind. It was warm and cozy, and we were allowed in every room except the parlor. The rugs are braided or rag and the country style was perfectly suited to life on the farm.


Stenciled Stairs.

Dining room.

Dining room.

Even now, if I get the itch, I can go up to that farm, sweep out the dust and air out the house. It is pretty much the same even though Grandma does not live there full-time anymore. And this old farmhouse will always have a special place in my heart, particularly in the fall.

© 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.

The Peacock Wedding

We were all nervous about my cousin’s outdoor August wedding. First of all, it could rain, or better yet, be hurricaned-out. It could be 110 degrees and someone might keel over from heat stroke. Or, perhaps by the end of it, there might be a murder. I am not saying who, but the pool was open. All I could think was that if I was going to be Mrs. Peacock, I might have to start the day out with, ”it was Mrs. Peacock, in the garden, with …. The Candlestick!”

And indeed none of those things happened at my cousin’s wedding. It was a beautiful day, even if it was in gale-force winds, and the wedding was charming and lovely. Fortunately, when you are marrying Mr. Peacock, it makes a wonderful theme for a wedding.

Glass birds and peacocks scattered along the aisle.

Wedding on the water.

This was my favorite type of wedding. Truly an effort of love where everyone contributes and the outcome is unique and beautiful and a reflection of the people exchanging vows. There was nothing formulaic about this wedding.

The Beautiful Bride and the bouquet.


I was charged with music, decorating & flowers. The result was a collaboration with the bride, who is extremely visual, and wanted things to look a certain way. The challenge was getting her to focus her ideas, preserve her creativity, stay within the budget, and still have a beautiful result. I am sure that we achieved this, together.

An underwater centerpiece.

My mother-in-law braved countless chiggers, poison ivy, and wildlife to make the vine balls that hung in the center of the reception space. They were works of art and we were able to string them with white lights, replace a track light with a plug ($2.50 conversion kit from Home Depot) and hang them without any cords showing. After the ceremony, we moved the little glass birds inside to perch in the vine balls.

Vine ball, a labor of love.

Vine balls hung from the ceiling.









The bride works in a bakery and the cake was made by “The Fabulous Baker Boys” themselves. This bakery, Flavor Cupcakery, has proven time and again to be amazing and I cannot recommend them enough. As winners of the TV show “Cupcake Wars” whispers of “are those the guys from TV?” were all over the room. Me, being clueless as usual, when asked if he could eat anything because he was vegan, pointed to the cake I had made specifically for the vegans, and did not realize who I was talking to. Fortunately, my cake received good reviews.

The Cake.

The preparation for this wedding was intense and involved so many friends and family. The outcome was truly special and I know we are all wishing Mr. and Mrs. Peacock the very best in their life and journey together.

© copyright Mariam d’Eustachio 2012.

Decorating with Maps!

I love maps. Old maps, new maps, inaccurate maps, it doesn’t matter. I love how useful they are and yet they have a certain decorative appeal. The colors are generally soft blues and greens, or even vivid browns, yellows, and deep blues. Ever since my husband started bringing home expired airplane charts from the Air Station where he worked, I have tried to think of different ways to use them. It is a place where form and function meet beauty. They can conjure up images of places you have been, or just help you daydream about where you want to go. They scream ADVENTURE!

Present wrapped with an old airplane chart.

I generally use the old airplane charts to wrap gifts and if I am feeling spunky, I make sure the chart or map I am using somehow relates to the person I am giving the gift to. When I decorated my husband’s office last year, I used two shadow box frames, and framed two airplane charts from places where he used to fly often, making it personal and unique to him.

Shadow box framed airplane chart in my husband’s home office.

At the office where I work, the large world map is along one entire wall of the conference room. This is appropriate because it is an international aid organization. We have little red and blue pushpins all over the map to show where our programs are located around the world and where the staff are originally from. This is a source of water cooler conversation and inspires us to think globally, not to mention practical when I have to remember where Timbuktu is actually located.

Conference Room wall at Partners for Development, an international aid organization.

I have often thought I would love to tear the pages from an old atlas and wallpaper a bathroom, surely providing me with hours of endless entertainment while on the toilet. Or even just use the maps to line the bottom of a serving tray, or to line the outside of an old suitcase. Just finish it off with an acrylic sealer. I have a teapot that resembles a mini-globe. The globe itself can stand alone as sculpture and come in so many colors and shapes.

“I’m a little tea- pot, short and stout!”…

This free-standing globe, pictured below, came directly from Italy and is hiding a full bar inside. Love!

Globe doubles as a bar!

Standing globe with a surprise inside…

Family Room Wall Map.

Family Room Wall Map.

The old United States map on my family room wall is a favorite here in our home. The colors have aged into subtle blues, greens, and yellows and I love it’s presence. It seems to hearken back to a time when computers did not rule the world. Maps add a sense of nostalgia, were a valuable resource, and an indispensable source of information.

It is easy to track down old maps or charts. Try making a phone call to an Air Station, local airport with a flight school, or military airbase. They update the charts regularly and would probably be willing to give the expired ones away for free. Try the GoodWill (I refer to it as GW & Co.) and see if there is an old atlas lying around and once you have a few old maps, get to work and let the adventures begin!

© 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.

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.