Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is your house haunted?

Do you believe in ghosts?

History has numerous accounts of corpses coming back to life. In a variety of ways, (seizures, coma, narcolepsy, trance, electrocution, poisoning, etc.) a living body can give all appearances of being dead. The skin is unresponsive and pale, breathing and heartbeat are imperceptible, and the body is cold and rigid. Hopefully the misdiagnosis is discovered before the body is interred, but on many occasions, corpses have been exhumed, and scratches have been discovered inside the casket showing that the body was buried alive and had clawed the inside of the casket in a futile attempt to escape. To prevent this a body would lie in state in the person's home for several days while a family member would watch over him hoping that the body would awaken. Even today, the custom of viewing a dead body is still called a "wake".

Before the 20th Century, people of England had the idea that after a person died, his spirit might re-enter the body for a short time to attend to some unfinished business. If he came back to life and was trapped in a buried coffin, his business would never be completed. To prevent this, the proper cemeteries of England had the custom of tying a string onto the hand of a corpse. The other end was tied to a bell mounted on top of the gravesite. If the dead body should come back to life, the bell would ring, and the body would be exhumed. A watchman patrolled the cemetery all night listening for bells. If, per chance, a live body was discovered and rescued, his family would say that he was saved by the bell. There is another expression that we use today. If a man bears a close resemblance to his father, we say that the man is a dead ringer of his father, which means that he died and was revived. And, if you work at your job during night hours, we might say that you work the graveyard shift.

It was not uncommon for bodies in a cemetery to be later exhumed. Before perpetual care was included in the price of a cemetery plot, family members had to rent the space. When the family stopped paying the rent, the coffin was removed to a common graveyard, called a "potter's field". This term dates back hundreds of years to England. When an old quarry where potters used to get their clay was abandoned, the empty pit would be filled with bodies who couldn't afford to be buried in the village cemetery. The term is still used today to refer to a common tomb, as opposed to a private one. Here is another expression that we use today: it was customary for families to give their first son the father's name. While the father was alive, the son would always use the title "junior". Immediately following the burial, the son assumed the father's name, and he was never again called junior.

You can see there are many traditions and expressions used today which date back to ancient myths and customs!

So in the spirit of the season I'd like to wish you all an early...

We leave for southern California today but will be back in time to vote! 

*Article written by Ron Ucovich
Alameda Museum Quarterly 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The sands of time...

I was immediately attracted to this when I spotted it at the flea market a few weeks ago.

Upon closer inspection I saw that it was an old Elgin watch repair kit.

Years ago my mom gifted me with her father's gold Elgin wrist watch which I've always cherished, so it came as no coincidence (I've never believed in coincidences) that this particular treasure was waiting for me to find it!

Fortunately, the price was right and I snapped it up.


I have been pondering the rows of tiny silver topped, numbered vials that once held tiny jewels, hands, bushings, bars, screws, pinions, levers and springs.

And then it came to me!

This would be the perfect box to house a collection of sand and shells from my favorite beaches!

The bottom level has several numbered cardboard boxes that are the perfect size for sand dollars and smaller specimen shells.

And these slightly larger black topped vials and round tins will be perfect for seaweed and other discovered sea treasures.

Best of all is the wooden box that houses it all and is easy to pack and bring along with us next week as we head to the Newport Coast for parents weekend and a much needed vacay and quality time spent with our son!

I can't wait to treasure hunt again on Crystal Cove Beach!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Fall Mantle

I used to have the hardest time styling my fireplace especially during the Fall season.

 Even though I love nature I am not particularly fond of using Fall colors in my home.

Last year I scored a large pair of ginger jars which have a touch of Chinese red (burnt orange)
in them.

I have quite a bit of Asian influence throughout my home starting with my Chinoiserie fireplace that I found in Paris many years ago.

Now I find myself attracted to Imari and Chinese red accessories.

Recently I was able to acquire several lovely pieces of antique Imari from the estate of a gorgeous home in Piedmont.

I've also recently become enamored with blue & white as well.

It might have something to do with The Enchanted Home and Tina's influence.

  This morning I started playing around with some of my newly acquired treasures to see what I could come up with.

A friend of mine, Molly, who is a gifted floral designer, let me tag along a few weeks ago on her rounds to several fabulous nurseries in Half Moon Bay.

She found me several gorgeous orchids and a fabulous fiddle leaf fig tree!

I'm hoping to do a future blog post showcasing her talent!

For those of you in the bay area, she is a great resource, especially with the holidays coming up.

Along with my Imari pieces I picked up several beautiful ceramic birds.

I love the whimsy they add to the vignette.

The round Chinese red and black  lacquered box is vintage Gumps.

Thanks to my friends, Eddie & Jaithan, and their fabulous collection of pierced white compotes, I'm constantly on the lookout for them.

They are not easy to come by!

 Although, I did just score my second one recently.

A few more pieces of Imari on a white lacquered side table in my living room.

So there you have my version of a
Fall Mantle.

I think we will light our first fire of the season and get ready to root on our boys!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Prop Shop Sale

I think it is time for another 
 Prop Shop Sale!

(Several of my treasures were recently featured in a Fall themed photo shoot)
I've been collecting lots of wonderful things since my last sale and with the holidays fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to come and dig around my prop shop for seasonal decor, art, furniture, lighting, decorative accessories and unique treasures and gifts.

What do you say...  will you come?

 How does the second weekend in November sound?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Kitchen Sink

Since I don't have a window above my kitchen sink, I am forever trying out new kitchen sink vignettes...

I picked up this old mottled strip of brass ages ago at the salvage yard charmed by its worn appearance, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I thought of using it as a back splash for my kitchen sink.

 It took me a while to get used to it but now I find myself really loving how it looks but even more how it functions.

The bead board was always getting wet and beginning to swell and peel so  my little experiment has become a life saver!

Plus I have fallen in love again with brass and this piece has acquired some of the best patina I've ever seen.

I like to haunt our local boating consignment store looking for items to give our little kitchen some nautical flair. 

 I've been waiting for the perfect porthole but in the meantime found this antique wooden sifter that looks lovely set against the white bead board.

For those who don't have a window above the sink, I'd love to know how you decorate it?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Just a touch of...


I picked up this box containing six bottles of vintage Primo Sepia Erasing Fluid at the flea market last weekend.

I was attracted to the colors and graphics on the cloudy, crusty old ink bottles thinking they would add just the right touch of "Halloween" to my design aesthetic. 

 They look pretty good in my 
Cabinet of Curiousities.

 I also think they would be fun as tiny vases to hold dead flowers for a Halloween themed dinner.