Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Damn you David McCullough!

Long time readers know my serious geek crush on Mr. McCullough, American historian.  I am not the only one, given how please Tom Hanks and Paul Giamatti seem to be in his presence.

I keep looking for a McCullough is my Homeboy tee on the internet, but think I will have to settle for simply continuing to read the McCullough canon.

My latest has been his biography of John Adams.

John Adams

I know, I am late the to the party, both in terms of the book and the wonderful 2008 HBO miniseries starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, which I plan to watch this August.

John Adams (2008) Poster

Never mind.

I am now down to two books by Mr. McCullough yet unread and had been "saving" the John Adams biography for several months, since, well, Mr. McCullough is now in his eighties and at best, he has one or two more masterpieces up his sleeve.

The sign of a well written book is the emotions that it evokes in its faithful readers.  A fiction writer has more to work with here in many ways, and can pull on our heartstrings with technique and abandon.

But an historian must bring the past alive for us.  She or he must paint a portrait of the times in such a way that we are caught up in the story, a willing participant in the ride through an event or life.

It is Mr. McCullough's gift/genius that he so ably (no doubt through grit, excellent staff and a natural storytelling ability) takes us with him on the journey.  The last twenty pages of John Adams saw me blubbering like a fool.  I was crying about the death of a man who had died nearly 200 years ago!

John Adams!

But for me, John Adams died last night.    And I felt as bereft as those good souls who would have mourned him in 1726.  I forced Barry to listen ad nauseum as I retold major events of Adams' life, but of course, I could do it no justice, since I am not, sadly, of the caliber of Mr. McCullough.

McCullough I.jpg

Mr. McCullough is a genius and I, his besotted reader, am now forced to decide when I am going to fall in love with Harry Truman.  Because I know I will.  It is just a matter of time.

Last year I had to visit statues in NYC because of Mr. McCullough, now I think I am going to Braintree Massachusetts sooner rather than later, as well as

The Birthplace


And yes, I am a Canadian, true north strong and free, but many of my ancestors were American and I am proud of them and my connection to the Boston states, so have got to go pay my respects to Mr. Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams.

Anyone else being sucked into history like this lately?

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

oh and Benjamin Franklin - your biography is eyeing me at the local bookshop... It's only a matter of time, dear sir..

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I love a scene....or: a skirt with a view.

I admit to an overwhelming predilection for clothing and cushions with landscape prints on them.

And while I do not have many of these things in my wardrobe or my house, I will take a nice vista where I can get it.

As with all things in life, once you cotton onto one such item you immediately see the same thing repeated again and again and again.

When I saw Anthropologie's new pommed pencil skirt this week I was besotted:

A scene and pom-poms - over the top in the best way possible...

And then over at Gigis, where she's highlighted this lovely little summer shift by Boden:


This past Spring I tried like the devil to buy these sandals by Dolce and Gabbana from Yoox

but finally chickened out because the shipping and handling to Canada was prohibitive and the customer service rep was not-so-helpful on the sizing...  

Really, it's just as well...

JCrew used to love a good picture on their skirts:

As did Talbots:

It is a tricky business, this wearing of pictures.  Things have to look just right, hit just right, or it can be quite disastrous.  

You might end up with the Brooklyn Bridge spanning your nether regions in the most unflattering of ways..

Still, I imagine myself striding along autumn sidewalks, the aforementioned pommed skirt paired with a navy vneck, black boots, and a jean jacket, the pompoms swaying playfully as I move along.  

But as with all things in my life, the Scottish side of me emerges and I imagine catching those same pompoms on some ill-placed branch and doing a face plant...

But gracefully, I would do it so gracefully....

How about you?  Do you like vista on your fashion or do you leave that to your walls and windows?

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Refreshed Dining Room

After all the shenanigans with no power this month and the push to complete the contract that I've been doing, we finally got the dining room painted.

It is always delightful to go in a different direction; it forces you to rethink the placement of art, furniture, and other accessories.

While the room is not technically finished - we will be adding crown molding around the ceiling in the next few weeks, it is basically done and thought you might all like a look!

This time last week, the furniture was huddled together in the center of the dining room.

What a difference in a week makes!

I think we have determined that we'll paint the chandelier a lovely ivory hue...

The pale blue, Benjamin Moore's breath of fresh air, has lightened the whole room.  So has angling some furniture to get away from the dreaded "lined along the wall look" which I am forced to do in some rooms because of all the doorways, but which I loathe...

Looking in from the living room, you can see we angled the coach and placed the drop -leaf table in back behind.  I slip-covered the herringbone tweed coach to lighten it up and added beautiful painterly throw pillows.

I love the pale green opening on to the pale blue.

The pillows were mostly purchased from Chapters and are the bluebellgray collection.  They are linen and gorgeous!
The pale blue nubby one was bought at Target for $7!

We also moved the china hutch down to this far end of the room.  I like it because now you can see the Wedgwood china, which, along with my mother's portrait, begat the colour scheme.

The painting is one of a few we have by my artist friend Janice Wright Cheney, who is an award winning artist who shows her pieces everywhere.  You can read more about Jan here.  I think we bought this painting in 1989.

Love the Wedgwood!

You can see my mother's portrait really pops against the light blue wall:

And exactly opposite the couch, in the far corner, the small liquor cart awaits a visit.  I can advise that Barry did visit it last evening...

Dani - do you recognize that sketch of Chateauneuf de Mazanc above the chair?
Wondered if you bought one while there as well!

We traded heavy curtains for lovely printed sheers.  We don't need curtains for privacy here - our dining room faces trees - but it is nice to have something to pull across when the sun gets hot.

The room feels fresh, and seems to lighten my great-grandparent's heavy oak table and chairs.

All in all, a great success.  Nick the Painter can't come back till September, so am kind of hoping that Barry the painter steps in before then, as now the hallway looks dreadful...

Isn't that always the way?  You do one space, which pushes you to do another space, and so on and so on....

We are delighting in these pale colours after years of rich, heavy hues.  And while I still love those dark colours, I am finding the new schemes very soothing and restful.

Hope you liked the little tour!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paper Dolls: Remembering Tom Tierney and Creating our own!

Alexander McQueen Fashions: Re-created in Paper Dolls

I read yesterday that Tom Tierney has died.

I have a confession: I was not sure that Tom really was a person before I read of his passing or was simply a nom de plume used by Dover Publishing for its eponymous paper doll books.

But I was glad to learn that Tom was indeed a person and a scampy gentleman of the highest order, taking his love of paper dolls, beauty and cheekiness and boiling them into his decades-long passion of making people smile with this witty take on paper dolls.  He recently passed away at 85.

All I could think of was this: how fun would it be to have earned your living making paper dolls?

You can't say that his portfolio wasn't diverse:

Ballet Stars of the Romantic Era Paper Dolls

William and Kate Paper Dolls: To Commemorate the Marriage of Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton, 29th April 2011

Michelle Obama Paper Dolls

I fall four-square into the paper doll camp, having spent many happy hours in my childhood playing with them, though if truth be told, I preferred the punch-out ones to the ones that required a pair of scissors!  I was never so good with scissors...

My sister and I were infamous however, for cutting up the Simpson Sears catalogue and making our own, although the models in that catalogue were always positioned in odd ways.

As an adult, when I ran across some of Tom's books on a subject I like - say 1930s movie stars or Gone with the Wind -  I have always scooped them up.

You can see all of Tom's paper dolls here.

He is credited for single-handedly keeping paper dolls alive, and if you look around the Dover site, you will see there are many talented artists now turning them out!

So many thanks Mr. Tierney.  I expect to see you "Angels of Heaven" book in 2015...

Remembering Tom Tierney: The Brilliant Man Behind Every Girl's Favorite Paper Dolls| Death

What would you love to see paper dolls made about?  I was thinking of that this morning and admit I would love a True Detective set, a Game of Throne set (though there likely is one!), a Sofia Coppola or Olivia Palermo set.  Maybe Beverly Nichols in the garden?  All of the characters in The Luminaries so I could have kept better track of them whilst I was reading that?  I am currently reading a biography of John Adams - hmmm...

I wonder how long till they make Grand Budapest paper dolls for Tabs?

Do share!

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Boost

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them
 Dalai Lama

Sometimes we all need some help.

I was thinking about this today as I was down in my laundry room, trying to reach into the laundry chute to pull out an errant sock.  In the end, I had to use a stool.

I always have to use a stool.

At 5'2", so much is out of reach for me.

In my kitchen, my best friend is not my kitchen-aid mixer or my cookbooks; it is my small red stool that enables me to reach everything.

When you are small, you learn quickly to get over the ego and recognize you are going to need help sometimes: to reach the high shelf at the grocery store, climb up onto things, see the view.

And yet, so often in the rest of our lives we are afraid to ask for help.

Some of this is because we are private, pioneering sorts of personalities who do not (or have convinced ourselves we do not) need help; we'll go it alone thank you very much.

Some of this is because we are embarrassed because we don't know an answer, think we are the only ones with the problem, think people will think we are stupid or odd or weak if we ask for help.
As I get older, I realize more and more that I need all kinds of boosts from all kinds of people.  And while at times I still feel shy to ask for those boots, for that help, I almost always feel better for having done so.

Even if my request does not end in the result I'd hoped for, I am usually not unhappy that I made the ask.

And just as I am appreciating all of the boosts I have been given, I am trying hard to give them to others.  When I see things that need commending, I say something right away now.  When I hear or read something that I think someone would benefit from knowing about, I share it.

Some of the greatest gifts I have received recently are some random act of kindness or some little boost that has kept me going.

I never know from whence these boosts will come.  Sometimes it is a friend sharing something.  Other times it's an article I've read, I story I've heard.  Each time I think: "Wow - how lucky am I to have heard that/seen that?"

A small thing we do for someone else can mean more to them than we will ever know.

In turn, our request to them may seem big to us, but small to the person we've asked.

All this philosophy from a pink sock in the laundry chute....

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Blake Lively and I have in common....

blake lively-vogue us interview cover-baby rumours-pregnacy

I know how your minds work: you thought of Ryan Reynolds immediately, didn't you?

blake lively-ryan reynolds-met gala 2014-pink0bude-dress-blonde hair-red

Well he is Canadian, but no, I am still pining for Georgie-Porgie...

So Ryan Reynolds is not what what have in common.

What is?

Well, Blake loves Martha Stewart and so do I.

Image result for martha stewart

Many of you know that I adore Martha, despite her kind of crusty exterior and the fact that she doesn't need a lot of sleep.

I have been a member of team Martha since around 1986 and I credit Martha for stepping in where my mother (seriously) feared to tread.  Thanks to Martha, I can clean, am a good cook and do things like make herb flower vinegar (note to self: time to try the vinegar...).

I defended Martha passionately when she went to jail, not because I thought she was innocent, but because the court was separating me from my self- appointed homemaking mother.  I considered it wrong of them to do that to me then and still think it was wrong of them now.

I need to know Martha is out there, testing things in her perfectionist way, making sure that all is well for me.

Apparently Blake is going the Gwynnie route with a new online site to be called Preserve.  I'll not critique that as frankly, Blake may have a trick or two up her sleeve that I've not seen (except for stealing Ryan).

Just so long as she makes no pretense of emulating Martha.

Emulating Martha is like trying to be the Queen.  Sure you can Helen Mirren all over the place, even do not a half-bad job of it, but in the end, you are not the Queen.

And like the Queen, the next-in-line seems slightly off-putting to many, though I will take Prince Charles over Alexis Stewart any day of the week!

Nope, it's Martha or nothing for me.

What made me think of Martha was that I made her grilled pizza tonight.  As I said, you can count on Martha: if she says something is going to work, well by God, get out of the way, it WILL work.  We have made this recipe lots of time over the last 18 years and loved it, and tonight was no exception.

Grilled Pizza

  • YIELD:Makes 2 fourteen-inch pizzas


  • Pizza Dough, divided in half
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Fontina cheese
  • Sliced fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves
  • Julienned scallions
  • Julienned pea pods
  • Fresh corn, kernels, blanched
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Cooked and crumbled sausage


  1. STEP 1

    For best results, use a charcoal grill. Create two sections on the grill's very hot back section and a cooler preparation section in the front by putting extra charcoal in the back and less in the front. Place fire bricks on the grill's surface to divide these 2 sections. Allow the charcoal to burn, then cool a bit before cooking to prevent burning the crust.
  2. STEP 2

    If using a tomato sauce, place in a pot on the grill off to the side, stirring occasionally.
  1. STEP 3

    Place one half of the dough on a lightly oiled flat surface, such as an upside-down cookie sheet; work dough until it stays flat and forms a round or square shape, about 1/4 inch thick. (Tip: Pull dough out, and allow it to snap back. Let it sit for a few moments, then pull it out again. It will hold its shape better this way.)
  2. STEP 4

    Once dough is in desired shape, pick it up and place it directly on the hot section of grill. With tongs, gently rotate dough as it cooks, 2 to 3 minutes, until bottom side is browned and dough holds its shape.
  3. STEP 5

    Remove from hot section with tongs, flip over, and move to cooler section of grill. Brush top (grilled side) of crust with olive oil, and add toppings of your choice. Return to hot side for a few more minutes. Continue to cook until cheese melts and bottom is crisp, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough and more toppings. Serve hot.

Well all choose our own toppings chez Wendy, as frankly there is not one kind of pizza that all of us will agree to eat.  For example, I cannot abide a pepperoni or a pea.  Go figure.  In my defense, the former is just plain Wendy and the latter is because they make me ill.

Tonight was extra yummy, because in addition to my chosen bacon, heirloom tomato, and goat cheese, I smothered the pizza in fresh herbs from the garden:

As Martha would say: it was a good thing.

I do wish Blake well.  I wonder who will be the Martha to the next generation - who will teach young women about all things home keeping?

Given that I am 20 years younger than Martha I am fearful of the day she leaves me.

When I needed a new family doctor a couple of years ago, I chose one 20 years younger than me - given my plan to live to be 93, I was pretty sure he could 'see me out'.  Do we think Martha can live to be 113?

I sure hope so....

Have a great day out there!

xoxo wendy

Monday, July 21, 2014

Love People, Use Things

one of the great philosopher kings

I read an interesting article in the New York Times this morning and you can read it here.

I won't repeat the arguments in the piece, since you can read it through the link above, but the gist of the article is that fame, fortune and money do not buy happiness.

Only through loving people, all people, and finding ways to support them, can we find happiness.

I think most of us know that.

And yet...

And yet, we spend a lot of time in our lives chasing things, possessions as an activity in and of itself.

We are all susceptible to this.  We are constantly inundated about glamorous images of other people's homes, vacations, new purchases.

It all looks so amazing.  We don't see the cobwebs in the corner, the spat in the car en route to a restaurant, the credit card bill.

I saw one of those Facebook images the other day that talked about how people work harder to acquire things which in turn forces them to work harder to maintain those things.

When I was working crazy hours I was not able to invest as much time in the people I love (except for my family) and I can tell you that it made me feel empty and lost at times.  Since I have been able to invest time in my friends regularly, I feel like a different, happier, person.

The article made me think of the changes in my life over the past couple of years...

Yesterday, Naomi had a wonderful post about her evolving blog.

I have had my own blog crisis of late.

When I began this blog I was writing about redefining my personal style as I headed into my fifties.

Then I up and left my job to start over and move into new directions.

I have struggled to get over the habit of purchasing clothing for a life that I no longer live.  I think that takes time and I do feel I am on track.

When I used to get stressed at work, really stressed, I bought new shoes!  Now I have either given half of my shoes away or am consigning them.  I don't wear 'em.  The infamous wall of shoes is probably down by at least 15 to 12 pairs.

And slowly, I am getting better about only buying what I need versus buying because something would be fun to have.  There is a cost to all things, and monetary is only part of it.

I continue to try and simplify and lighten up, which probably explains my move to a lighter house and clothing palette.

Because of all of this, the blog is evolving.

I share a lot on this blog, but to be honest, my life isn't that exciting.

However, what I do share is 100% me, good or bad, no varnish or polish, warts and all.  If you walked in my house and met me, you would find me exactly as what you see here.  Although I do hope I am funnier in real life!

But I have less money than I had before and much less desire to shop.  You aren't going to see a lot of clothing posts now.  I feel foolish doing outfits now; I am quite sure you have seen all I own and really I don't often have much to say about it all.

I don't live in a fancy house.  All renos are done by us and done on the cheap.

I am not going to be going on a ton of exotic trips.

My feelings towards things are changing and I am not sure if that is entirely due to my changing circumstances, turning 50, being tired of it all, or all of the above.

When I read the article this morning, I was reminded yet again that it is people, not things that give us pleasure in life.

So I will keep blogging, but the blog is beginning to morph into something else, although into what I am still unsure.

I hope many of you will continue to come along for the ride, as it is the people that pop in that are important to me.

Oh and every now and then we will talk about clothes.  I will always like clothing.  But right now, I feel like I am more interested in how I can better serve people, through my writing, my actions, my life.

I feel like I am on another journey and it may be about making my own corner of the world, myself included, a place of joy.

I was born in Alabama, people at school make fun of me all the time for it. What theyre to ignorant to learn is that sometime the best people are from there. Back home people knows each other, they have each others' backs. In Alabama people are the sweetest kindest most down to earth people, sure they get called rednecks all the time but i'd rather be called that than be called materialistic.In the south children are raised with morals. So think twice before you judge me about where im from.

I love my new life and every day is an adventure.  

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Remembering James Garner


He was a likable every man.

Whether in his icon TV roles as Maverick

or Jim Rockford

rom-coms with Doris Day

Julie Andrews

or Sally Field

tearjerkers like The Notebook

or even Polaroid Camera commercials

James Garner seemed like the kind of fellow you'd want to have a beer with in the backyard.

He never seemed to make himself out to be something he wasn't and he seems to have chosen his roles carefully in order to build on on his simple persona.

But oh my - he was sexy.  You don't even mind him in the 1970s fashion.  James Garner was a real man - nothing soft about this guy - and every role he played reflected that.  He was always the hero.

He had a long career that really only slowed down in 2008 when he has a stroke.  The public never tired of seeing him and likely never would have.

Garner was only nominated for one Oscar, for his delightful turn in Murphy's Romance, which I think is one of the loveliest love stories.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it!

Murphy's Romance (1985) Poster

James Garner has left us at age 86, but luckily for us, he will never really leave us, because his work will live on.

I can't help but think of Mike Post's iconic Rockford Files theme this morning and thought I would share a snippet.

Rockford Files Season 1 intro from jonathan bogner on Myspace.

Thank you Jim Garner - you were a class act and I will miss you!

Stay safe out there!  xoxo wendy