Monday, October 31, 2011

Nate Berkus Show

It's all about small spaces on small budgets! 
This Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 the latest Nate Berkus Show will be aired at NBC at 2pm New York time. Check your listings.
For this episode Nate teamed up with the popular design magazine, DWELL, for their annual small space issue and helps them solve America's toughest small space dilemmas.
A few selected pieces will be used to create little space miracles.
Among the items will be:

   A Rug (unifies small space to create illusion of size) --From FLOR tiles.

  Two occasional tables (they serve double duty) --  from IKEA 

   Marimekko pillows (pattern draws eye into room) - MARIMEKKO from Crate &   Barrel.

And of course there will be more, the studio audience, as always, will have many surprises and give aways awaiting them!

Click image to enlarge: 

I am a fan of his show and his affordable and clean lines! Go, have a look! It looks like super fun!

PS: And don't forget to look at my children's book recommendations here! The holidays are just around the corner....

Image through Nate Berkus Show, items above via websites.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Reading the forecast there was snow mentioned.... End of October, are you kidding?!
I think I will need something  for the season!
What do you think? And the place to go with it...

Or this?

And I love this!

From the Milli Collection. And the equally incredible timeless Stephen Gambrel! You can find it here and here!

To see some of the winter weather around here check out my other site! It's rather hard to believe!

All images via Milli collection and Stephen Gambrel websites.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New treasures

I scored two lovely treasures. I found a beautiful tea pot and a lovely silver tray for the holidays!  My source for many hunts is Etsy and you can easily follow me there. 
From Falcon and Finch came both: The tea pot looked like nothing much upon first seeing it, but I loved the shape.

This is what I'd gotten:

And the result after some really hard polishing: On the bottom it reads 1883 
B. Rogers Comp. silver on copper 1200. And silver shiny it is now. The two dark parts on the handle seem to be bakelite.

The Reed and Barton silver tray was already beautiful, I just gave it a once over and voila! Perfectly ready for coming parties!

A little green next to it....

Right at my window!
And here one more look at the tray and tea pot!

I just love it!

PS: Don't forget to check out my House and Living part, where my latest post is all about recommendations for children's and teen books! Think holidays!

Have a wonderful last October weekend! Halloween is coming too! 

: )

First image FalconandFinch, last four by V.Zlotkowski

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reading, writing and living

I can't say that fall lends itself more to reading then any other season for me. Although the notion sounds romantic, with days shortening and the fireplace beckoning.
There is not more time than on long summer days, beach side. Or snow covered winter afternoons, when others go skiing. Reading has been for decades on top of my priorities. It's what I do. My family will attest to it. And the dirt under the sofa as well.
I am also a survivor through reading. For books have always helped me cope. And imagine.

I have begun writing too, which now takes the other half of my time, after I care for my family. And read. I have become more reclusive, turn away from much entertainment and hole myself up, happily.
It's a strange state of affairs. I still can't fully think of myself as a writer.
But writing I do.


I picked up a writer's magazine yesterday, showing a sad and painfully thin Joan Didion on it's cover.
I have read her haunting account of her husband's death in  'The Year Of Magical Thinking'. A book which filled me likewise with sadness and hope.

Joan Didion

She has an extraordinary eye for reality. Her essays have interested me more then her other writing, telling me of an America from the 6o's and 70's I never knew.
Now she has written a new memoir, about loosing her daughter. The book is called 'Blue Nights'. It will be out this November.
So many of my own fears and feelings, I imagine, will be touched.


It reminded me also of the writer Isabelle Allende's daughter Paula and her untimely  death at age 28 and Allende's subsequent book with the same name.
I always fear the loss of any of my four children, a fear, parents experience at many given challenges to let go. And yet, mercifully, we rarely experience the death of a child in our days, thanks to the advances in medicine and our daily awareness of luring danger. (I am aware that it is not so in many parts of the world until today)
When it happens, it seems, we are struck harder. Although I think of it as a misconception, since neither the mass death of children through epidemics or common childhood deceases could surely have had anyone getting used to it. Nor the death of a single child. Maybe hardened. I can see why mothers hardly smiled in pictures of long ago. How many of them experienced terrible losses?
Of course there are other ways of loosing children. Through divorce or alcohol, drugs or neglect.
Having experienced it myself I know what millions of divorced parents feel. Also as a child, coming from a family where divorce would have been a better choice for so many reasons.
So much is touched and broken open again.
Yet there is hope for me, all my children are well and my husband sitting next to me.
I am writing and filling in the pains of years past with my own magical thinking, my
writing and memories. I capture them and make them obey to the demands of my soul.


There are other books which have given me a chance to think back to experiences I tried to come to terms with, the oddness I felt as a child, the not belonging, my teen years living with an abusive, alcoholic father and a weak, depressed mother.
Just a few days ago I finished reading Jennifer Haigh's novel 'Faith'. A book about keeping or loosing faith in people, a family under extraordinary circumstances. A book through our book club, which I liked against my previous thoughts.

A few days ago a 20 year old boy from our neighborhood was found dead on the street.  A suicidal overdose after a short career of alcohol and drug abuse, a young mind criminalized through his habits, coming from a 'dysfunctional' family and what must have been unimaginable hopelessness and loneliness. I did not know the boy, nor his family, but it did not let me sleep. I kept thinking about him and his missed life.

And again I am pushing myself to think positive, stay optimistic and hopeful. Against doubt and the dark walls, which sometimes build themselves up around me.
These are the moments, when I feel the most connected to life, when I feel my soul intact and guiding me towards the future, my dreams and the one's of my husband and children. Where I see what's possible and what I still can do!
I am a reader.
I am a writer.
I am alive.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This autumn has literally fallen over me, too fast, too unexpected. I know, I know, you might say, how is this possible? Halloween is just around the corner? School has began two month ago, summer far behind!
But it's all good and true, yet the summer had been lingering in my mind and mood. 

Looking every morning out of my breakfast/lunch/dining/room window, seeing the sun I have ignored the dropping temperatures. But now I begin to feel the season. We had to bring our oleanders and ficus tree inside, the hibiscus is still holding out, but it's days are numbered too.

There are fat pumpkins reminding me every day that we are at the end of October. I shudder. Still, I walk in shoes without socks...
I haven't decorated for fall, as I usually do, and so far Halloween just looks from the outside in.

Today, walking through the garden on a somewhat blustery morning, I rescued the last fallen Dahlias, glorious yellow and pink tipped beauties, together with some reddish blue Hydrangeas they now brighten my spirits and smile at me: 

Look at the glory of autumn!

We have been out for long walks with the dog, numerous 'last' sittings on our deck with hands around hot tea and still I had not felt fall.

Now suddenly I see the turning leaves, some trees almost bare. There are mountains of leaves on every corner in our neighborhood and I can smell the occasional firewood burning.
Oh, old friend!
Autumn has sneaked up on me, just as the years have. Perhaps I am holding on to that feeling of summer, realizing that my hair grows more gray under that layer of color.
Unlike fall, I do not become more colorful as I move into my next season.... 
But it is also time for bringing in the harvest.

I am slowly falling in love. I just need to change my mind set a little. Embrace the cooler air, the light falling golden through transparent trees. The mist in the morning and the high, star filled skies at night.
The promise of an golden autumn!

All pictures by V.Zlotkowski

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Friday

Sometimes I need a little boost on Fridays, when I feel I want to hang loose but I can't....

So I collect some sunshine and preserve for later!

Happy weekend!

Picture my own window ledge.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I have a longing interest for all things past. History, ranging from literature to art and architecture, from
grand homes to cottages, from antiques and vintage items to private treasures. The list is endless.

I am drawn to old china, transfer ware, blue and white Meissen or Delft, old silver, cutlery, dishes, old photographs and letters, books of course and many pieces, which do not always fit easy description.
Just look at the beautiful clock my husband brought back many years ago from Amsterdam. Somebody made it it, had it sold to a Dutch family, it was sitting on a mantle, chiming their times high above the canals....and finally it found its way to America! A small house in New York.
Although unknown to me, I think of all of them.

All these things hold beauty and collective memories. When I gaze at an old picture I am moved towards these times, try to imagine the lives and circumstances. It fills me with compassion and melancholy of sorts.
I love the stories I hear. I feel like a collector of worlds. Its looking into mirrors.

When I touch the handle of the wonderful silver coated coffee pot, I bought on eBay a few months ago, I think not only of the friendly woman who sold it and turned out to be of German decent and her mother, whom the pot belong to, but also the times it has been used. It is an elegant piece, used perhaps at weddings or birthday parties?

Now it sits heavy and pretty on my window ledge and gets used again at parties and just recently was a centerpiece at my birthday.
If these pieces only could talk...

I particularly love old silver. The knowledge of how many hands have held on to the knives and forks, the circumstances under they were acquired, the places they have been...
I bought vintage silver from Connecticut and the Midwest, china from Florida and photographs and letters from Brooklyn. 

I have old roll clothes, used for pressing bedding and tablecloths from Germany and France, wooden candle holders from Belgium and vintage chandeliers found on City Island in the Bronx, NY.

And the books....well, this is another story!

There are also new things from our times, well made and precious to me. They also will be things of the past one day. I am keenly aware of this. 
For that reason I try to look for lasting things, well made furniture, fewer but better.
I am less interested to collect as much as possible anymore. Though I used to...
Now I look for the quality and our needs. What sense does it make to have a cupboard filled with china I never use?
I am a collector of things, but I have learned to be selective.

I am also a caretaker, a keeper of things close to me and I will pass them on. There will be again some one to take them from me, when I am gone and just my touch and memory will remain. There will be a story added. This connects me and I love the thought of being a part of the long chain of time.

All pictures by V.Zlotkowski

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A family visit

These last few weeks have been rather wild, to say the least. I've been busy without time to clean the house....forget about writing, or relaxing. I squeezed in the occasional shower, cooked rarely, instead I entertained! We celebrated my birthday while I aged a little faster...

It was good having family here, but in the future they will need to be spaced better. We all are too particular, the quarters and the staff at hand were simply not adequate....(Think summer camp for grown-ups)
My parents are not an easy couple at the best of times, but in foreign environment it has been more difficult. I spare you the details. I am sure you all can fill in the blanks with your own experiences. 
They had exactly one week planned for their visit to us in America after 10 years and at first I was a little disappointed about the short duration of their stay. After all they spend three months in France each year....  But some tensions between guests arose. And at the end of that week I drove them back to the airport, with a sweet and sour feeling. I've had a dream prior to their arrival, some sort of dark premonition. So, why was I surprised?  I had hoped after we all had not been together for so long it would be different. But some things never change.
Did I mention my sister was here too for the very first time in America? My parents and her travelled together. It was great having her,  just the overlay with the parents was unfortunate. And my oldest son and his sweet girl? Would it not have been for them, I would have surrendered to a looming depression. I am sure any psychoanalyst, reading this, will have a field day!
And then there was our family in full back-to-work/school swing. Topped by a husband,  away on business for a good chunk out of that particular week. Of course nothing like that was planned this way. 
It has taken all my energy and a little more. While all this was happening my washer and dryer broke and I am since then stranded without them. Four weeks now.
Visiting the laundromat is an humbling and time consuming experience. But it gave me time to think. Quietly, without interruptions. Only my sister and my son's girl joined me there.
We bonded deeper over dirty laundry! Thank you, girls! 
I missed you there yesterday!
I will be ever so grateful when I'll finally wash and dry laundry in my own home again. No more complains over that kind of home-work. (Please remind me later.)
The new state-of-the-art equipment is supposed to arrive next week, after a false attempt with half of the parts missing last week. I really dislike Home Depot. At least the one near us is simply impossible. Ill educated sales people and incompetent customer service.

After all that driving to and from airports, dinners, sightseeing and the shops I am happy to sit at home, rub my silver in contemplation and enjoy the sunny autumn moments on the deck, surrounded just by the birds....
Why is it so hard to find a middle ground in such times? The expectations are high, everybody is aware of the short time together. We all have our ideas of what's important and it looks like there is no right way to satisfy all our needs.

There are only few things truly helping: Some humor and tolerance! 

Tolerance for not enough time spend with each and every one, for too much time spend there instead of here, for not cooking the right meal or for going out to dinner again, for the stories told, for driving lunch to school at times when I should have gone elsewhere, for running around and trying to be everywhere at the same time! For talking about inheritance...
For spoiling the kids and being slave to one's own customs.
And humor to laugh about all that non-sense!

Image via  E. Braeunig

And yet, after they have all left, there is a gaping hole, an empty space in my aching heart!

I think of all the thoughts I have not shared, words I have not spoken, failed attempts to sooth the excited waves of family turmoils....for not bringing enough peace. For trying too hard.

Images via Kykuit website

But foremost I think of all the wonderful things we did do: The walks in the New York City, the places we've been to (Kykuit, above), the times we spend talking and eating delicious food and drinking good wine. The walks around the block and the chats with my sister. The great dinners and shared feelings. Holding my mother's hand. Listening to all their voices.
The gifts I received. Thank you so much! All of you! 

 The time of having them all together here at our home in America, so rare, still lingers in my mind. I cannot regret this, although I have had my doubts.

The discovery of yet another great neighborhood in Brooklyn with my older visiting kids was worth every driven mile! They stayed on a week longer (too short) 
and I relaxed in their presence.

 BoCoCa (Brooklyn); where we walked for hours and finally ended up in a wonderful bookstore to discover one of our favorite writers: Bernhard Schlink (The Reader, Flights of Love, The Gordian Knot and the latest The Weekend), ready for a reading that very night. Of course we stayed...

It was wonderful. 

The past weeks have been a reality check of sorts and a lesson towards my own, perhaps overgrown expectations.
How come that one tends to ignore past experiences?
I have learned that less is sometimes more and more tolerance eases some pain. C'est la Vie! Laugh out loud!

And that red wine is really good for my mood! There should be a prescription available from the doctor.

Just this morning after having written my post yesterday
I wanted to add some words Steve Jobs once wrote: 

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
-Steve Jobs 1955-2011 

The words just for me! May he rest in peace! He was so creative and inspiring.

All images by V.Zlotkowski and as indicated. Painting by Jan Steen.

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