I love high-quality simple straw hats in summer. When I lived in New York City, cozy felt hats were a must for winter. I especially love the big black fur hat, though I doubt I’d have the courage to wear it. It’s too bad we don’t wear hats much on the West Coast. Which one is your favorite hat?
All those hats inspired me to make some paper art using their fabulous shapes. I titled my silhouettes “The Hats of Victoria.” All four are made from one of the hats pictured above. Can you find all of them?
I’ve included pdf downloads of all four patterns after the jump for you to make your own paper hats. I thought it would also be great to mix in other feminine accessories: sexy stiletto, small purse, bright umbrella, etc., so I’m planning to make another set soon. Read more »
This post is the second of three in my Victoria magazine series.
As promised (though delivered a little late), here is my wish list inspired by Victoria magazine. Vintage bicycles, feminine hats, and luxurious toiletries were mainstays of Victoria. You could always find classic luggage and fashion too. The magazine also hosted artists- and authors-in-residence. I’ve included two books from my favorites (Madeleine L’Engle and Maryjo Koch). Jaunty umbrellas, bright bistro chairs, and dress forms are also typical Victoria. I think Penhaligon’s Bluebell Soap is the most beautiful soap in the world. Have any of you tried it? And who doesn’t love Tiffany’s heart locket paired with their beaded chain? Happy shopping!
Clockwise from top left: Linus bicycles, The Nest: An Artist’s Sketchbook, The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle, Peter Beaton hats, The Conran Shop bistro metal folding chairs, Hunter original rain boots, Urban Outfitters linen dress forms, SteamLine luggage, Penhaligon’s Bluebell Soap, Pare umbrellas, Tiffany Hearts Locket and beaded chain.
This post is a departure from the usual, but please bear with me.
Dedicated to Mack Lundstrom, who taught me to write from the heart.
I feel like I’m saying goodbye to an era.
In a recent attempt at simplicity, I’ve been cleaning out extraneous belongings that have cluttered up my apartment—and thus my life. But one collection I vowed to eliminate has proven hard to part with: my 13-year accumulation of Victoria magazines.
My grandmother first introduced me to Victoria when I was a teenager in the early 90s. She kept recent issues in a basket on the floor next to her chair. Every Sunday when my family visited her, I’d curl up at her feet and pour through those pages over and over again. I never got bored of them—or my grandmother’s stories. We bonded over our mutual affection for that magazine. And Victoria opened up a whole new world to me, albeit a world that was decidedly un-cool for a girl my age.
Victoria brought the promise of beauty, luxury, and grace into my otherwise drab existence. To my mother’s dismay, the home in which I grew up was decorated in a distinctly masculine aesthetic: wall-to-wall solid oak with numerous mounted deer heads and antlers. The only two colors found in that house were brown and beige. Even the outside was painted beige and brown! I shared a small bedroom with my two sisters, sleeping in oak platform beds that stacked on top of each other during the day and rolled out at night. Love was there, but beauty—at least my kind of beauty—was nowhere to be found. Then Victoria showed me a wealth of romantic fashions, white furniture (hallelujah!), bright linens, and lush gardens. I was hooked.
For better or worse, Victoria informed my taste for the next 13 years. I grew to admire Nancy Lindemeyer (founding editor of Victoria), her vision, and words of wisdom. One of Victoria‘s Writers in Residence, Madeleine L’Engle, became a favorite author. I savored each photo taken by Victoria‘s most prolific photographer, Toshi Otsuki. (I even tried to hire Mr. Otsuki when I worked for Real Simple magazine, but he had retired because his eyesight was failing.) Victoria magazine was one reason I chose to major in magazine journalism in college. In fact, I secretly hoped to work for Victoria someday.
“We do not observe the world around us without in some way changing it, and being changed ourselves.”
Victoria wasn’t just about a style. It was a way of life. A way of life epitomized by Jane Austen’s world, in which her protagonists enjoyed afternoon tea, rambling walks in sprawling gardens, picnic-lunch excursions, beautifully handwritten letters, and an overall refinement that’s generally lacking today. It’s a way of life, I’m sorry to say, I may never achieve.
I gradually outgrew my infatuation with Victoria‘s pretty but cluttered world. (My Real Simple tenure was probably to blame.) Still, when Victoria folded in 2003, I was heartbroken because my dream of being a part of its staff was over. Four years later, I received a postcard in the mail announcing Victoria‘s relaunch. Nostalgic for the memories we shared together, I subscribed immediately. When the new issue arrived, nothing in it held my fancy. Maybe it was the absence of Nancy Lindemeyer’s touch. Or the dearth of Toshi Otsuki’s photographs. But in truth, nothing was exactly wrong with it. Victoria seemed the same. I had changed.
“When I began Victoria magazine, I always said that it was for the women who loved their grandmothers as I did. And who would never forget the legacy of womanhood they gave them. It was much more than appreciation of a gracious time. It was a sense of what was beautiful in life—of what to hold on to that expresses the best we have to give.”
It was time for me to let Victoria go. Before boxing up the magazines to sell on eBay, I felt impelled to take one last look—at every page of every issue. It took me weeks. When I got down to the last few issues, I didn’t want it to end. Leafing through them, I recalled the power they once had to transport me and stir a longing for that life. Though I hadn’t opened most of the magazines for at least a decade, I vividly remembered how certain photos had enthralled me. But my fond memories of Victoria are just that: memories. And one cannot live in memories.
Perhaps not coincidentally, this journey down memory lane started just before I heard my grandmother was sick with terminal cancer. Though I still loved her and held no grudges, we hadn’t spoken in years. I visited her in the hospital recently. I wouldn’t say fences were mended during those visits, but with Victoria memories fresh in my mind, I at least kept the bad from blotting out the good memories we once shared. The person I knew and loved during those precious Victoria years is how I will choose to remember my grandmother.
So, with a heavy heart and tears on my cheeks, I pack up Victoria and prepare to say goodbye to my beloved grandmother. With their passing from my life, an era comes to an end. One I will not forget.
This is the first of a three-part series. Please come back in the following weeks for a Victoria-themed wish list and a Victoria-themed craft.
Ever since I spotted Swedish designer Jonas Bohlin’s tulle lamp in Gudrun Sjödén’s catalog last year, I’ve been dying to make my own. I finally did it! I started with Ikea’s Melodi pendant lamp, then added tulle. Never having attempted anything like this before, I guessed four yards of tulle would be plenty. Boy, was I wrong. It actually took 10 yards. No worries, though. At $1 a yard at Walmart, the tulle is quite affordable. This lamp reminds me of a ballerina’s tutu. Imagine a pink one hanging in your little girl’s room. Or a black one in your modern bedroom. Jonas Bohlin’s lamp = $524. My lamp = $25. Woot. Read more »
Just a quick decorating idea inspired by Kathy’s lovely framed “K” at Creative Home Expressions. My framed “hope” was fun while it lasted, but I needed a change, so here’s to “faith.” Adding the red-and-white striped scrapbook paper in the background gave it a whole new look. If you want to make your own, download the letters here and click here for the tutorial. One guess what my next word will be. Bigger project coming next Monday.
Introducing a new guest nester! Australian Abby Matthews blogs about the things that inspire her at Two Little Dicky Birds. Abby’s remake of this tired, chipped pine dressing table reminds me of my wallpapered cart, but she used an entirely different (and better?) process, so I had to share it with you. Abby writes: “I was inspired by Bryonie Porter’s wallpapered furniture, but wasn’t confident that I could carry off wallpapering the entire table, so I decided to just apply the paper to the top. It was just as well, as I botched the first wallpaper application and used up the bulk of the paper the second time around. The wallpaper I used is a Florence Broadhurst design from an offcut won on eBay. It’s currently used as a writing/computer desk in our living area and is definitely my favourite piece of furniture.” Thanks, Abby! Read more »
For the record, I’m against sealing my wine cork bath mat. I mean, corks are exposed to the moisture of wine for decades and seem to hold up fine, right? But several readers insisted cork needed to be sealed, so I did some research on sealing cork. It seems the best option is probably a sealant that’s made for protecting the cork footbeds of sandals such as Birkenstocks. I bought a 2oz. jar of Sure Foot’s Cork Renew for $5 at my local shoe repair shop. Other brands include Birkenstock Cork Life, Kelly’s Cork Renew, or U-40 Cork Seal, which is designed to prolong the life of cork fishing rod handles.
Today I started applying the sealant one row at a time. I didn’t like the glossy, tacky feel of the sealant, so I was hesitant to keep going. My compromise: I painted the cork sealant on only half the bath mat, and I’ll compare the results in a few weeks. After letting it dry for a day, I’ll start the test on Monday and keep you posted with the results.
UPDATE 4/2010: It’s four weeks later, and the unsealed side of the bath mat looks and feels like new. The sealed side started out quite sticky. Gradually, the tacky feel went away—only because everything stuck to that side. It acted like a giant lint roller. The sealed side isn’t sticky anymore, but it’s darker than the unsealed side (the difference is more noticeable in person). Btw: This photo was taken after I vacuumed as much of the stuck debris away as I could. I rotated the bath mat halfway through the trial to be fair to both sides.
UPDATE 8/2010: Still going strong. One cork popped off the corner. Hot glued it back on. Good as new.
UPDATE 9/2011: I recently tossed out the bathmat because the sealed side got too gross (with lint and debris sticking to it) and because the corks started popping off more frequently. No sign of mold. It lasted 18 months. Not bad. I plan to make another (unsealed) cork bath mat with better glue soon.
CONCLUSION: Unless you are in the habit of creating a swamp of your bathroom floor every time you shower (and you know who you are), unsealed wine cork bath mats can be expected to hold up as well as most store-bought bath mats. Because common sense isn’t as common as one might hope, I’ve put together a mini tutorial for keeping your bathroom floor dry, and thus lengthening the life of your bath mat. Read more »