Archive for the ‘Decor’ Category

Copper Beech

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Although I’ve only visited interior designer Thomas O’Brien’s New York City shop AERO but once, I’ve had probably at least a dozen dreams since then that I’m there again, fawning all fanboy-style over the vintage/modern treasures Thomas is personally pointing out to me.

After 25 years of AERO, O’Brien is launching a brand new store inside a beloved old building.

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What was once Wallen’s Market in the Long Island town of Bellwort Village, has been thoughtfully transformed by O’Brien and his partner Dan Fink into Copper Beech.

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Stocked with AERO-like antique accessories and furniture, Copper Beech sets most of its attention to the kitchen with an earthy assortment of utensils, vessels, and baskets, as well as pantry-packing canned, jarred, and dried goods.

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It’s small town living at its flax-y ‘n foxiest. There’s three weekends left this summer to suss out Beech’s chic seeds and antiques before the shop is fully functional next summer.

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I probably won’t be able to pop in to check it out ’til 2017, but odds are I’ll dream I’m cruising through Copper Beech basically any night now.

The Little Things

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Interior designer Dan Fink creates serenely handsome homes made of (of course) room-sized rooms. But a smaller scale is celebrated in Fink’s introductory web presence, with his website’s landing page presenting a series of sublime little still-life studies.

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Miniaturized models of iconic furniture designs rest amongst the other essential elements of an elegantly orchestrated space.

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Mood boards transposed into table-scales, these images illustrate boldly how the perfect room is the sum of diverse, pretty-darn-perfect parts.

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While Hurly and I anxiously and endlessly wait to discover our next (more perfect) home, our frustration with our current, imperfect home festers and intensifies.

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These Dan Fink tableaux are a welcome reminder that while an entire home, or, perhaps, a certain room might feel flawed or unfinished to a homemaker, in narrowing in on one perfect vignette or a single sublimely designed shelf-scape, we can give to the eye, mind, and soul nearly everything we’re wishing our future or fully-finished homes will someday hopefully exude!

CAA Hotel: The Rest & The Restaurants

Friday, September 25th, 2015

The night we checked into the CAA Hotel, we spent but two minutes in our suite before sprinting back down to the lobby level to make our 9:30 dinner reservation at The Cherry Circle Room.

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There was squid-ink-tinted pasta and fish that felt like chicken. (Which was a definitive treat for pescetarians like us.)

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And mood lighting radiating from every direction.

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The antique heradlry banners added to the secret lair flare of the establishment – the symbols and motifs recurring in the embossing of the menu covers and stitching on the table napkins.

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Scanning the shelves around the S-shaped bar was basically like window-shopping a perfectly curated antique store.

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The built-in clock from the Association’s original restaurant was still ticking, if not a bit tarnished. Someone be a sport and buy me a book about built-in clocks in last-century public spaces, or at least start a Tumblr about ’em. They’re everything!

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Since we were in Chicago to celebrate the ultra-successful launch of Hurly’s new computer coding school, and reward ourselves for the ceaseless weekends we’d all spent Allen-wrenching the campus into existence the past year, we asked for the Cherry Circle Room dessert menu up front. (And then, shocker – rushed down for malts at Shack Shack instead.)

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For breakfast, both days (cause Hurly and Kaya were so hooked) we took the elevator all the way up to Cindy’s Rooftop Bar and ordered family-size portions of pancakes and bagels with lox. In the club’s original days Cindy’s was…notably…um, nothing. Just a roof. But who needs history and decorative relics when you have a swath of skylights as your ceiling, and the maple syrup comes spiked with rum?

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Face-stuffing aside, the beds up in our suite had Faribault Mills blankets folded atop them and pommel horses stationed beneath them.

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The hallway art was often of fleets and always on fleek.

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Without a doubt, it was a truly winning visit to the windy city.

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I don’t or won’t leave a space/place I love without taking its energy home with me as ongoing inspiration. Since we returned home I’ve already picked up a set of old Indian clubs that look like they were sculpted from the planks at the fancy Shake Shack, and this weekend I’m coaching Hurly on how to recreate my favorite of the abstract paintings from the hotel’s drawing room.

Souvenirs in spirit only are souvenirs even so.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel: Game On

Monday, September 21st, 2015

If slumping around, staring at chesterfield sofas isn’t enough action for you, there’s peppier fun to be had in the CAA Hotel’s Game Room.

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With pool and foosball and shuffleboard tables to take on…

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And an indoor bocce court that always seemed already occupied.

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I quite enjoyed the opportunity for some friendly competition, but still spent most of my time gawking at the green leathers, high-glossed tables, and built-in trophy cases the space had been spruced up with.

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Friday night the Game Room roared with the flirting of Tindr-trained hipsters and yuppies, but during the day there was plenty of peace and elbow-room to be found.

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The bar menu offered Cream Soda Floats and Raspberry Beignets(!) that our daily Shake Shack-snacking sadly prevented us from ever ordering.

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Just outside the Game Room is the Milk Room – which was given its name during Prohibition when whisky and rum weren’t wetting anyone’s whistles.

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Today, The Milk Room serves coffee and tea and donuts and such. I only ever got around to the tea, but I’ve learned from my mistake, and will go harder next time.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

It was a men’s athletic/social club built in 1893, now newly resurrected as a grand hotel, with interior design courtesy of the team behind the ACE New York. I mean, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t drag Hurly to The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel for an investigative getaway.

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The first floor of the building is somewhat of a gateway to the true hotel above, but retains the club’s original Euro-style tile and impressive marble stairways.

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Also at ground level, for public over-indulgence, is the most glorious and glossiest Shake Shack in America.

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Shakes and/or super malty malts were ordered all of our three days in Chicago. On the handout for the self-guided architour I later gave myself I learned that “What is now Shake Shack used to house the club’s Turkish bathes.” Definitely the best and most swoon-worthy sentence I’ve read in quite some time.

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To rise above the black + white shakes and get to the hotel proper guests take one of four elevators paneled with original court flooring featuring the old Fencers Club insignia. How’m I supposed to truly live now, knowing that old club is dead?

Sigh…

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Then the elevator doors open and you walk into a tartan and turkish-rugged wonderland.

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Lots of leaf-colored leathers, and electric Edison bulbs. The hotel’s a working time machine with just enough mid-century and modern tweaks to lead the eye back toward present day.

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I spent a lot of time just purring at all the swanky grandeur while Hurly and my sixteen year old niece traded amused glances at my decor-oriented rapture.

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But when a space’s fireplace is huge enough to incorporate two conversation seats within it…

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…and features wooden relief sculptures of century-old footballing brutes, how can you not freak for the majestic chic of it all?

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The morning after we arrived my niece’s allergies hit like bricks, so she and Hurly lazed up in our suite all afternoon. I didn’t mind having to entertain myself though. I hunkered down in the library-like room one step up from the hotel lobby and studied my favorite of the club’s decorative arrangements: large leather daybed, kilim pillow piles, and odd-coupled oil paintings arranged gallery wall style.

Whole hours of my life passed, exactly like that.

There’s lots more club to show, and I’m a gonna show it all!

 

Reflecting

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

One of the coolest gifts I received over Christmas was this Easy Mirror from American Design Club.

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Made of a single sheet of polished stainless steel, you simply pop the leg backwards, peel off the protective film, and end up with one ultra-modern reflecting pane to pose yourself in front of.

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As edgy and awesome as my new mirror is, I’m so far having a heck of a time finding a table/dresser/surface worthy of its austere chicness.

Nicole Portlock Ceramics

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

I got really into ceramics the past year and spent a good chunk of change this summer on works from ER Studio and Bari Ziperstein, among other sources.

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My latest find is the smoke-fired pieces from Nicole Portlock, a ceramist out of Ireland.

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Like asymmetrical eggs hatched out of the swirliest depths of the milky way, her work is earthy and other-worldly all at once, and my first Portlock piece is due to land in my hands any day now!

Summer Getaway – Camp Wandawega

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

From Prohibition-era brothel to 1950s lake resort to 1970s summer camp for the children of Latvian Catholics, Camp Wandawega’s been working its woodsy magic on all kinds of folk for almost ninety years now.

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In its current incarnation, Wandawega’s the semi-private playground of two Chicago-area advertising execs who open up their Moonrise-y Kingdom for wedding parties, clothing catalog shoots, and corporate retreats. Lower-key kids like me just looking for some outdoorsy fun in a Pinterest-worthy paradise can book left-over nights/cabins/beds through AirBnB.

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Hurly and I and our niece/honorary daughter Kaya booked a Wednesday through Friday stay in the three bedroom “Raccoon” cabin.

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But we were the only guests at the camp the first night, so our host Joe took us on a lengthy historical tour of every cabin, every guest room, every tree house, every pup tent and every tepee on the site and said we were welcome to sleep wherever we wanted.

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We ended up sleeping in our assigned cabin both nights, but we napped indulgently one afternoon in the American Indian tepee, and Kaya helped herself to what we goofily called a “hooker’s bath” in the women’s restroom at the old brothel, and we wandered all around Wandawega freely, wowed by the wall-to-wall antiques which were just begging to become the backdrops for photoshoot after faux-catalog-style photoshoot.

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We enjoyed plenty of un-posed fun too, scout’s honor. From shuffleboard to board games, hatchet throwing to canoe rides, we did everything the spirits in Lake Wandawega could’ve wanted us to.

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Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Everyone’s favorite activity was swooping over the lake on the two rope swings. One had a wooden plank on which you could sit and sorta relax. The other was Tarzan-style, set-up for shooting yourself out and into the sorta scarily shallow waters.

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From the fonts on the front gate, to the travel-sized soaps set atop your beach towels, every aspect of Camp Wandawega resurrects the retro charm and hospitality honed during the golden age of American road-tripping and long since lost.

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There’s even an old-school souvenir vending machine from which I picked out a Wandawega motor-lodgey keychain and Hurly and Kaya selected an Indian arrowhead necklace.

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By artfully assembling in one place all the Kodachrome-y, memory-building traditions that family vacations should be made of, as Camp counselor/curators David and Tereasa have, my little troop’s settled on making summer trips to Wandawega a tradition of our own.

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Next time I hopefully won’t travel three hours back toward Minneapolis before realizing I’ve left my military duffel bag full of Teva’s and T’s from Hickorees back on the bunk beds at our Wisconsin summer home-away-from-home. (D’oh!)

A Few of My Favorite Things

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

I know all of y’all a little bit, but since I’ve never met your Sweetheart or your Sixteen Year Old Cousin or your Self-Defense Instructor, I wouldn’t know better than you what to go and gift any of them this Christmas. But I love the way Holiday Gift Guides shine spotlights on selections and shops which readers might not come across otherwise – and so I’m issuing out the first ever Treasury-approved Gift Guide, highlighting items I’m sure someone in your life would probably treasure.

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1. Geneva Travel HiFi System
I demand my iPhone speakers white, un-ugly, and non-gigantic, and this is the most handsome little-ish device I’ve come across in my thirteen months of hunting. It’s got Bluetooth, of course, plus an FM clock radio, tuckable within a future-retro travel case.

2. Manjukaza Painting
Far across the sea, Hong Kong artist Majukaza strokes out a never-ending series of affordable ink wash paintings, all of them black on white, each one a little different than those that have come before, and all of them modern masterpieces.

3. Minuteman Watch
I grew up in Swatch Watches, and now tend to wear vintage timepieces off etsy. The aesthetic of Squarestreet’s Minuteman watches span both sides of the spectrum, and then settles somewhere in between. Some designs offer brown lizard print leather bands, others sport see-through candy-like cases. Whether your style is pretty Poppy or more Papa-like, Minuteman’ll tick with every look.

4. Vermont County Store Short-Sleeve Sweatshirt
Short-Sleeve Sweatshirts used to be a thing, then they basically stopped being a thing. And I just LOVE things like that. These sweatshirts appear to be cut a little on the big and baggy side but I’m gonna just go with it (like in the movie Just Go With It) and make ’em look casually cool anyways.

5. Monoi Tiki Tahiti Coconut Oil
The Line is a freakily chic shop in New York that sells some pricy little prizes. These bottles of Tahitian-made Coconut Oil cost but twelve tiny bucks though and they’re just the thing to make you feel dewy and tropical when winter turns you all dry and dreary.

6. Nate Berkus Aluminum Box
Online, almost everything Nate Berkus designs for Target looks lust-able. In person, that’s not always the case. It all comes down to (it always comes down to!) material and finish, and these shining ebony and ivory enameled storage boxes could pass for “good vintage condition” 1977 Pierre Cardin pieces. Hurly-the-Hubby thinks they’re cool too.

7. Cupid Deluxe CD by Blood Orange
iTunes gift cards are a’ight, but a real CD you can handle with care feels so much better un-stuffed from a stocking. Blood Orange’s album (I swear) is like the seductive soundtrack of some Pacific-set romance starring Mia Sara and whichever heartthrob looked hunkiest in bolo ties back in ’88. It’ll turn your half-lame life into a montage of hair-flips in hot tubs and kisses in corvettes. (Wouldn’t “Kisses in Corvettes” be the BEST name for a song? Someone go off and make that happen.)

8. Musco Orange Amber Shaving Cream
I haven’t considered straying from my praise-worthy Proraso brand of shaving cream for six or seven years now. But the Hermes-y citrus-colored tube of this orange and amber-infused Musco cream is telling me it’s time to at least consider letting something new come between me and my Mach 3.

So Happy Holidays, friends! Go give and receive with all your heart.

And for year-round insight into all I’m basically wish-listing, peek at my Pinterest boards.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

We’re still deciding exactly when and where to do our official honeymoon, but the day after we got married Hurly and I headed to Palm Springs for a four day pre-honeymoon – or “honey’muse-bouche” as I dumbly dubbed it.

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Most people want to visit certain countries or celebrated cities. Part of me does too, but more and more my soul is centered around wanting to stay in certain hotels. We chose Palm Springs for a number of reasons, the main one being it’s where the Ace Hotel & Swim Club is located.

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Built as a Howard Johnson’s in the 1960s, the complex remains true to its roadside motel roots. It’s the majorly stoned site of the next five Lana Del Rey videos, the cinder-blocked setting of that sweat-stained Matthew McConaughey movie you never got around to seeing cause it never got around to being made.

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Being an Ace, I knew it’d be hip. But having never stayed at an Ace, I didn’t know if it’d be dickish and douchey.

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We arrived on site a few hours before our room was ready, so we headed to the hotel’s re-did restaurant, King’s Highway, for a lazy lunch. Originally a Denny’s, the restaurant has maintained its diner-style counters with swiveling stools, refrigerated dessert case, and breakfast-all-day menu.

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The food as well nods to the site’s greasy spoon past but updates it with a Californi’organic twist. Fish tacos, kale and date salads. Sunshiny stuff like that. They had something called Jamaica Pie which was key lime with hibiscus and worth a try just for its name alone.

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They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and it must be true, because after two bites of Jamaica pie I was in full-on crush mode for King’s Highway and falling hard for The Ace all around.

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We’d reserved a honeymoon-worthy suite. It was big, but the little things made the biggest impression on me like the Red Nosed Reindeer double bulbed sconces over the bed…

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And the happy bag of Have’A corn chips stocked in our mini bar.

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After we got settled in our room we explored the grounds, armed with no less than three cameras with which to mount the first of our many Married-Men photoshoots.

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Our suite had two patios. The larger one had a citrus tree growing over the wall…

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And a fireplace I’d enjoy each morning while waiting (and waiting and waiting) semi-patiently for Hurly to eventually wake up.

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One day we hit the Feel Good Spa. I considered a hippie-dippy spirit cleanse involving crystals, but went for a clay wrap instead. It basically felt like getting massaged by melting butter and some warm maple syrup and there ain’t nothing not delicious about how that feels.

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The Amigo Room, the hotel’s dark and divey bar regularly books live musical acts.

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Hurly and I stayed up way past my bedtime our last night at The Ace to check out some cigarette-jeaned band that was scheduled to go on at 10. While they set up their instruments I stayed busy by super-modeling mob-boss style.

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I’m usually ready to head back home after a vacation winds down but leaving The Ace was absolutely awful. It wasn’t the least bit dickish or douchey. Every staff member was warm and normal, not icy or intimidating. Every sign, and sofa, and song, and french fry, and bathrobe, and cactus at the complex was perfect and magical.

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It’s bar none my favorite hotel I’ve ever been to. And it doesn’t make tons of sense to go back to it right away, instead of finally going to Japan or seeing what Africa is like or visiting the town they filmed Twin Peaks in, but I mostly don’t care.

I just wanna go back to The Ace, ASAP.

L.A. Story pt. 2

Friday, March 1st, 2013

My body-clock remained on Minneapolis time our entire stay in Los Angeles, which meant I’d wake up at 5:30 each morning, with empty hours to fill before any worthwhile shop would bother opening. So crazily early on Saturday morning we drove to the Chateau Marmont for an old-Hollywood style breakfast.

Two summers ago I’d slowly read a book all about the legendary hotel, so it was interesting to see it in person. It was more Gothic-y and Grandma-ish than I’d thought, but it was a dreamy reminder of the beauty that comes from keeping something the same, for years and years and years.

After I ordered my almond-crusted french toast, I tested the service bell on the wall behind me in the restaurant/bar and wondered how many times Dean and DeNiro and Dunaway might have done the same thing.

Once regular business hours resumed we hit Heath Ceramics hard.

Then swung by the other Lawson Fenning location where I flirted with at least five different chairs, especially this mesh ‘n leather one.

Since chairs don’t ever seem to stash that well into carry-on bags though, I opted instead for this vintage, volcanic-rock pot.

As far as our visit to Charlie’s Angels Headquarters, here’s a close-up of the bolt-holes where the Townsend Detective Agency sign had once hung to!

But the iconic building that was once the pretend home to the sexy sleuthing of Tiffany Wells, Kelly Garrett and the Munroe sisters is now a G-Damned vacuum store.

What a fucking karate-kick in the gut.

During our visit Hurly said, “I guess it’s true. You can’t go home again.” No, I can’t. And neither can Sabrina or Julie or Bosley! Obviously I miss everything about 1980 all the time, but never moreso than the day I stood, slump-shouldered, under that moronic Miele logo.

Ouch.

There’s Always Next Year

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Last year, too late in the holiday season to be of use, though, I finally bought bubble lights. And then this October, I finally got a tree skirt since the one I’d tried to get last year sold out the second I decided I wanted it. All that pre-prep and then come this Christmas, for the first year ever, Hurly and I didn’t put up a tree.

But I’ve already got plans for next year, I think. And I’m gonna use this red and white American-made boating rope as garland.

Butch things up a bit. Like Baby Jesus would’ve liked it.