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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Map of My Heart

I am a sentimental fool.  I have a map which is worth more to me than any pirate's treasure map because it is a map of my old hometown where I was born and spent my childhood.  It is yellowed and tattered and has followed me from city to city and country to country.

On this map, you can see the street where I lived and a little square box shows my old public school.  When I look at it, memories of sun drenched days, kookaburras laughing in the gum trees, walks down to the river that flowed endlessly into the ocean and, above all, my mother’s voice calling me in to dinner, fills my mind, makes my heart squeeze tight and quick tears spring to my eyes.  I keep it with other little things such as glimmering shells and mother-of-pearl buttons lovely enough for a mermaid princess’ dress as they remind me of that faraway land and time.  This map of my heart.

I'm linking up to A Beach Cottage and Good Life Wednesdays.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Silver Bells and Cockle Shells

I have a secret to tell you. The abode of L’Heure Bleue At Home is nothing more than a glorified concrete box. Let me add that I am not writing this from a prison cell. And the concrete box was looking a little worn and a little torn. And when one is living in a glorified concrete box then worn, torn walls start to emphasize the concrete-boxy-ness of L’Heure Bleue At Home. I wanted a bit of the colours of the sky inside L’Heure Bleue At Home to make me forget that I was living in a concrete box. But I despaired of ever being able to finish painting the place and bring the sky into my home. There were too many walls to complete. “I am going to live with these scruffy walls forever,” I said, “It is all very, very bad.” This is when one of my best friends said, “I will help you paint.” Miraculously, she came and we painted and painted and painted. Where possible I used Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint with its “zero VOC” and “virtually no odour” because, when one is living in a glorified concrete box with not a lot of ventilation, preservation of one’s lungs and much-needed brain cells is an important concern. And the only way I knew how to repay her was to cook dinner and serve it on my Very Best China reserved only for Very Special Occasions.
And to cheer us up and gladden our hearts, I dressed up the table with silver bells and beachy shells. Alas, there were no pretty maids in a row as we were in our painting clothes and covered in paint splodges.
We sat down to dinner with legs trembling from exhaustion. And somehow, after a long day of hard labour, saying Grace doesn’t seem like such an antiquated notion after all. And so I say with all due sincerity, “For the good food on our plates, for friends who pick me up and carry me over the finish line, for friendship, loyalty, love and all the ties that bind and for readers, commentors and followers who cheer me up and cheer me on, Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.”
I am linking up to A Beach Cottage and Good Life Wednesdays. I noticed that the Followers gadget isn't working on this blog. On some other blogs hosted by Blogger, there is a message under the Followers gadget saying that there is a problem with Internet Explorer. Could you let me know if you see any Followers? I am not sure if it's a problem with Internet Explorer or with Blogger. Thank you!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Pretty Please

When I was little, my mother’s jewelry box held an endless fascination for me. It didn’t matter that the contents never changed. There was always that possibility of finding something magical whenever I lifted up the lid. It wasn’t just a jewelry box, it was a magic box. Even now, I adore secreting things inside boxes. It doesn’t have to be a box, it can be any sort of container. But if the container is pretty and vintage and has connotations of royalty then that's even better. Vintage Crown mason jars with the Crown logo impressed on the side and on the glass insert are perfect for holding a pretend princess’ pretty things.
So when life is a little rough and a little blue then the thing to do is open up a magic box and play with vintage ribbons, lace, beaded hairpins and lovely, lovely pearl necklaces.
I’m linking up to A Beach Cottage and Good Life Wednesdays.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Introducing Mister Long Life

Let me introduce you to Mr. Long Life, of the Electrohome Long Lives, the newest member of L’heure Bleue At Home. I spotted him sitting in a box at the thrift store alongside other relics of the past such as a macramé plant hanger and orangey brown carved candles. I was there to make a donation and get rid of stuff, not cart home more stuff. But I couldn’t get Mr. Long Life out of my mind. I circled the store once, maybe thrice. I wasn’t thinking vintage fan as much as I was thinking James Bond, Sean Connery as James Bond, Dr. No, sweltering island heat , blazing sun, sitting on the porch of some rickety beach shack and the only breeze coming from Mr. Long Life.
So I go to a sales clerk and say, “Could you price this fan for me?” He comes back with a highish price but, still, it’s not too bad. Then he plugs it in.
“Hmm, only one speed?”
Laughter ensues. “Miss, this is a very old fan.”
I must say that I do love being called “Miss” even though I have left the “Miss” stage a long time ago. But I digress.

I cart home Mr. Long Life and spend an hour cleaning out what looks like the remnants of a bird’s nest from the cage. “I have made a stupid mistake”, thinks I. Then I plug it in. All I hear and see is the sad, slow thump of the engine and limping whir of the blades. “Nooooo, but it worked fine in the store!” Right, I will give this geezer another chance before turning him into an art installation titled “Home for Birds”. And that’s when I find out the secret of Mr. Long Life. He’s like the little engine that could. It takes a while for him to get going as if he needs to build up his self-confidence. But once he does, he roars away like a tornado, to the point where I am worried that he will jump and hop right off the edge and on to the floor. He’s had a neglected life but now he has a home in his dotage. Mister Long Life indeed.
A special shout out to A Vintage French Henwho was the very first to comment on L'Heure Bleue At Home and is my very first follower as well! It was like Christmas morning and getting a present that I didn't know I wanted until I saw it.
I'm linking up to Coastal Charm and Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream – The Good Life

The Good Life, that’s what everyone wants, every minute of every day, yes? But that doesn’t happen except in dreams. At the end of a long, weary day, when one is blind with exhaustion, there is nothing better than to slide into a bed piled high with luxurious linens. And my bed, to me, symbolizes the good life. Sleeping in on the weekends or whenever possible, breakfast in bed, propped up reading my favourite books and magazines, that is the height of the good life. My bed is a modern version of a sleigh bed which I bought after sleeping ignominiously for a goodish while on a mattress on the floor. My very old hand-me-down bed had collapsed in the middle of the night (due to old age, I assure you, not due to excessive weight or, er, any sort physical exertion). I saved and saved for the new bed and mattress, all the while sleeping on that hideous single mattress on the floor. Then came the linen shopping. I dabbled in various coloured linens and even patterns over the years but have lately developed a love affair for snowy white. There is something marvelously soothing and calming about the colour white. I found that, when constructing a monochromatic bed sanctuary, the trick is to layer textures to avoid that dreaded hospital connotation. I have a quilt with an intricate stitched pattern, quilted pillow covers and cushions.
I shopped around for quality sheets with a high thread count and found them at Pottery Barn. What’s not to love about tailored sheets that come tied in white grosgrain ribbon? And let me tell you, sliding between them for the first time, I thought I heard the Heavenly Choir singing. I could have wept for those lost years sleeping wrapped in what seems now to be coarse sackcloth. Ah, my bed, my sanctuary, my little piece of Heaven on Earth.
And if you haven’t already, check out A Beach Cottage’s Good Life Wednesdays and join the party http://www.abeachcottage.com

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Ode to a Pencil

There is something wonderfully humble, self-effacing and yet inspiring about the lowly pencil. I mean a proper pencil that needs sharpening, not that annoying torture device, the mechanical pencil with the ant leg thin leads that break just as one manages to insert it into the spider leg thin channel running down the middle. What a relief to turn back to the pencil of my youth. My father was an engineer and there were always Staedtler pencils scattered around the house. They spoke of decisiveness, mathematical precision and accuracy. And at the same time they declared, “Let me trace your imagination for you.” How I loved the colours of the Staedtler pencil with the authoritative royal blue, crisp ring of white and black cap. And I still do. What could be more meditative, more delightful than to insert the pencil into a pencil sharpener and crank away? What better way to follow pathways of inspirations than with a Staedtler pencil?

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Beginning

A journey begins with taking the first step .  And the first step with L’Heure Bleue At Home began with the realization that I could paint Grandma’s Dresser and make it into something I loved.  Let me backtrack a little.  My parents are practical people.  They never painted or renovated any of the many houses that they lived in.  They just fit themselves into the past lives of the previous occupants.  Inadvertently, that became my modus operandi.  My life became filled with furniture I disliked, fixtures and fittings that niggled at the corners of my mind.  My mother foisted all of the furniture she had no use for on to me which included Grandma’s Dresser.  It was a hideous monstrosity of faux country awfulness.  It lived like a carbuncle on my life.  My mother refused to take it back, all the while filling me with guilt for wanting to get rid of it.  Finally, it dawned on me that I had the power to transform it.  So I painted it a pure white and added lovely, sparkling carved crystal knobs.  What a revelation.  Hampered as I am with a budget that is so tiny that you would need a microscope to see it and no Mister to lend knowhow and muscle, the dam had broke and there was no stopping me.   I was bewildered by the plethora of styles, colours and textures laid out before me.  Did I like mid-century modern, French country or rustic?  Dark colours or light?  So let’s start this journey of self-discovery.  Care to follow along?
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