Thursday, March 28, 2013

Finding Your Eat, Pray and Love

I recently rewatched the charming Julia Roberts movie, Eat Pray Love based on the best selling novel Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. When the movie came out in 2010 I was in the midst of a divorce and I deeply related to the story of a woman who leaves an unhappy marriage and travels for a year to find her passion and purpose. The book and movie were widely popular, both for the women who wish they could do what the author had done and by those who related to her wanderlust.

In the past 3 years I have experienced unforgettable travel experiences (France, Spain, NOLA) and met people who changed my life but as I rewatched the movie I realized my connection to the story has changed. I found my Eat (travel and indulge in the culture you are in) and my Love (my true love) but I haven't experienced nor am I looking for my Pray. Instead I am looking for my balance. Where Gilbert (and in the movie Roberts) went to India and found balance through prayer and meditation, I'm trying something else.

Due to repetitive movement (work, painting my house) and other factors I have cervical and lumbar sprains in my back and neck. I am receiving physical therapy twice a week and as part of the treatment I am doing yoga. Besides relieving the pain I'm finding it incredibly soothing to do directly after work to release the tension in my shoulders and increase my mood. When I leave for California in a week, I am hoping to find a place to do yoga each day, my version of finding a church to pray in.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday 5 List #27-Time

I've heard it said that time moves faster as you get older. I agree. At this stage in my life I'm the busiest I've ever been. Between work, professional commitments, my personal life, my Etsy business, and things I enjoy such as travel, reading, movies and gardening I feel like I have little time to catch my breath. In fact as I write this post I am simultaneously listening to a YouTube video, checking online auctions and cooking risotto. So for today's Monday post, here are the 5 things I try and catch up on when I have time.

  1. YouTube. I am a YouTube junkie. I subscribe to 6 channels, mainly on fashion or travel and I try to stay current with the channel uploads. See video below. 
  2. Travel Planning. Paul and I are leaving in a few weeks for an extended trip to California. We will be flying into San Francisco and then spending a few days exploring Napa and Sonoma before driving down the coast and spending a few days in LA. I've been to California many times but this will be my first trip to wine country and I am so excited. When I have a few moments I am trying to research vineyards and places to stop along the coast such as Hearst Castle. I really want to see the Library there. 
  3. Once Upon a Time. Now that Downton Abbey is over for another season (can you BELIEVE the ending, poor Matthew!) I watch the ABC program Once Upon a Time. The series is in it's 2nd season and I love the way they mix up classic fairy tales with a modern and rather twisted spin. Thank goodness for my DVR, being able to record TV allows me to skip all the commercials. 
  4. Sleep. Seriously I can sleep. I have new room darkening heavy drapes in my French style bedroom and if I have a morning off I can easily sleep 12 hours.
  5. Google Reader. I, like millions of other people was caught off guard when Google announced last week that they are closing down Google Reader. I've been using Google Reader for years to organize the dozens of RSS feeds I subscribe to from my favorite websites and blogs. I have no idea what platform I am going to move to when it shuts down on July 1 but I'm trying to keep up with my feeds until then.
So whatever you do when you have free time. I hope you spend it doing something that makes you happy. If you have 10 minutes of time, here is a must see video, it will make you smile and maybe cry too.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Vintage Remix

Over the past 3 months a friend of my son's from the Navy has been living with us. After leaving the military he decided to start a new life in Chicago and moved in with us and created a new life for himself, new job, new friends, new girlfriend, new city. Last weekend he moved into his own apartment and I ran over to a local Goodwill to buy him a few plates, bowls and pots and pans. While I was there I found a beautiful leather sofa and chair which may be the best deal I've ever found thrifting...the sofa was $39.00 and the chair was $19.00. I immediately purchased them and loaned them to the young man for his new apartment which was completely unfurnished. He will likely buy them from me for the same price I paid for them and hopefully they will last him many years. Thrifting is a hit or miss and I've learned if you see a great deal you have to act quickly...turn around and someone will have beaten you to it. Sure enough as we were loading the furniture into my son's pickup truck we were told a man had wanted to buy the sofa and chair that same day and was planning on coming back after work to buy them. Too late.

When I moved into my 1950's bungalow 2 years ago I was starting from scratch, I left my former home with only my son's bedroom furniture, an armoire, a desk, my books and our personal possessions. Now my home is nearly complete and I've had a great time decorating with vintage furniture, flea market art, new furniture from IKEA and mid-century home accessories. I am currently reading a terrific book, Vintage Remix: The Interiors of Kishani Perera authored by the designer Kishani Perera. Kishani is based in LA and mixes vintage design into many of the celebrities she designs for, she is also the owner of Rummage a global and vintage furniture store in LA that I am planning on visiting when Paul and I are there next month. Kishani finds great pieces at yard sales, resale stores, vintage and antique stores and mixes them up with inspiration from around the globe. If you are looking for great design ideas that mix vintage and modern, I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Young Lady's Life in 1764

Last week my parents visited me in Chicago and as we usually do, we spent a couple of days wandering the local antique stores. My Dad found a book for $5.00 that is a glimpse into the life of a privileged young woman in the 18th century. The Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion in the Year 1764-5 by Cleone Knox, edited by her kinsmen Alexander Blacker Kerr was published in London in 1925. The editor's forward reads, "Miss Cleone Elizabeth Knox the writer of this journal and an ancestress of my mother's, was born on May 12, 1744, at Castle Kearney, Co. Down, Ireland. Her diary, written in a fine Italian hand, in four leather-bound notebooks, was first shown to me by one of her direct descendants in the summer of 1904. I read it with interest, but it was only this year that I decided to edit it and offer it to the public." The editor goes on to explain the history of Cleone's family and describes her as such, "Miss Knox was not a stylist, and her grammar and spelling were poor, like those of many 18th century ladies. She had however, a strong sense of the dramatic and the picturesque, and her journal makes amusing reading, affording as it does a vivid picture of the gay society in which she moved". And so begins her diary, an intimate look into the life of a young woman as she falls in love, attends balls and parties, gossips about servants and friends and travels through Ireland, England, France and Italy with her brother Ned for a year nearly 250 years ago.

A few highlights:

  • Ireland, March 15, 1764: "To my vast amazement I am still here unwedded and unseduced."
  • March 22, 1764: "My father called me to his study this morning, and communicated to me a most amazing piece of intelligence. We are to set off next month for a Grand Tour of Europe, visiting my sister Foley and her husband in Derbyshire, proceeding from thence to London and the Continent. I realized that poor Mr. A. would most certainly not be permitted to accompany me on this journey, and my eyes filled with tears."
  • London, May 22, 1764. "Carrots and Turnips Ho! This cry yelled in a hoarse voice wakes me every morning. My father complains of the noise in London and indeed 'tis something prodigious. The watchmen are calling out the time and weather all night long, and when they have stopped the vendors or oranges, brooms, matches, rat traps Lord knows what else begin. I am amazed at the vastness of this town and the bustle of coaches and chairs in the streets. Never have I seen so many pretty women in so short a time. Pray Heaven Ned will not lose his head."
  • Paris, France, September 11, 1764. "The streets of this town are vile and dirty after London and monstrously narrow for the crowd of noblemens coaches and chairs that throng them. The Palais de Justice and Opera House fine, but most of the town stinks vilely, though to hear the french talk you would think t'was Paradise itself. The poor people here attire themselves in black and Lady H. says 'tis account of the mud splashed up by the coaches."
  • September 14th, 1764. "Today was presented to their Majesties the King and Queen at Versaille. I attired myself in white satin and wore my diamonds, yet was not utterly satisfied with my looks, for I have grown thin of late. 

Seriously a fascinating and at times a hysterical read. Her brother attempts to run off with an Italian nun who is also an heiress but her inheritance will go to the convent, he ends up in jail briefly and the journal ends abruptly soon after. The best part, her ancestor, the editor ends the journal with an epilogue on what happens to Cleone, her mysterious Mr. A, her brother and others mentioned in her travels. Want to know what happens, I'll loan you this fragile, rare and wonderful little book.