Monday, March 18, 2013

Presidential Side Trip..George HW Bush's Library

In the soundtrack of my life last week’s feature hit was…On the Road Again.  Apropos considering I was on the road again and heading to Texas…and who doesn’t like a little Willie Nelson every now and then running through their head.

So off to Houston I headed with 3 full days planned…but I knew that the George (HW) Bush Library was in the area so flew in a day early and drove 1 ½ hrs to College Station to spend the afternoon revisiting the politics of the 1980’s & early 90’s.

First off, when I was planning this little side trip I had no idea that the library was 1 ½ (each way) outside of Houston.  I’ve been in New England too long because I forget not everything is as geographically compact as New England.  Heck I could hit 3 states in 1 ½ hrs….

In 1 1/2 hrs I could be here...Walkers Point Kennebunkport ME

George H.W. Bush Library on Texas A&M Campus in College Station TX

Anyway, even if I was clear on the distance it would not have changed my plans.  I don’t get to Houston often and am definitely on a mission to visit as many of the presidential libraries as I can by adding on to already planned trips.

Love this pic....thank goodness he's not in a middle seat next to me :-)

So, after landing I headed off to College Station.  My flight landed at 11 am and the library was only open until 5pm so I was a little worried about the time and not having enough time to see everything I wanted to after factoring the travel time.

Very young and very good looking George & Barbara (Pierce) Bush

Don't they look happy?

Wow was he handsome or what?  He was voted most handsome at Andover Academy...I never would have guessed

Luckily the 4 hrs that I ended up having was just the perfect amount of time. I had plenty of time to stroll leisurely through and look at every exhibit I wanted to and even go back and re-look at the Reagan years twice.  There is a Genome/DNA exhibit that I decided to skip so I really just spend my time learning about the man, the family & the politician.

Can you believe this is where the new family lived in TX after Mr Bush graduated from Yale?

Bush I was the first president I voted for so he definitely holds a special place in my heart but since he was a single termer it’s sometimes hard to consider what a significant impact he had on our world.  I had forgotten that the Soviet Union broke apart during his presidency.  Also, the Berlin Wall came down and the beginning negotiations of NAFTA (although Clinton did sign it into law).

Part of the Berlin Wall...there is one in Reagan's library as well

We all remember his legacy of Desert Storm as the precursor to today’s Iraq war and there is a very moving exhibit honoring the Desert Storm experience in the library.  There is a tent set up to replicate those our soldiers lived in with a first-hand account of their experiences told by several of our soldiers including visual, oral and physical cues to their experience (the benches shake as bombs are going off & stories are being relayed on the monitor).  I will never really know what it was like for my friends and family to fight this war but it definitely reminded me how much impact Desert Storm had on my generation.  This was of course the first real war experience us Gen Y-ers had.

Amazing Desert Storm exhibit....doesn't look like much in these photo's but it certainly was touching

I think the thing I mostly came away with was really how impressive George (HW) Bush is as a man. He was well educated (he graduated in 2 ½ years from Yale with an Economics degree), deeply devoted to his family and driven to success.  Yes, he came from a life of privilege but the man really worked too.

The Vice President's official residence.

The Bush official china

And did you know that there are only 3 presidents that were taller than President Bush (Lincoln, LBJ and believe it or not Jefferson).  The library does a wonderful job of presenting who he is man, myth and politician.

You too can have your photo taken in the Oval Office at the Bush Library

Bush's Oval Office

If you are heading to Houston anytime soon I highly recommend taking a couple of hours and revisiting the 1980’s-90’s.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Before & The For Now...My Diningroom

About a year after I moved into my house my Dad came to help me with a little garage shingling project.  It was so great of him to drive the 4 hours to mend a little leak…in my garage roof.  Nothing critical but it sure is nice to be able to leave my sunroof open inside now.  My dad is retired but spent the majority of his working life as a carpenter so he really knows how things are supposed to go when it comes to DIY projects.

I am a bit more of a I want it done and I want it all done now kind of project manager.  This leads me to often have a few too many projects started at once.  And yes, I got the what for from my Dad about not starting something new until I finish my current project.  At the time it was the kitchen cabinets, dining room walls, new stairs, bathroom wainscoting , and a couple of other small projects I can’t exactly remember at the moment.

So it’s been a few years since that visit and I am still working on many of these projects including my dining room.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist so have been reluctant to share it until it was totally complete & perfect.  I’m not there but in an effort to embrace imperfection I have decided to share :).

There are so many things I still want to do but I just haven’t decided on fabrics, colors or themes.  So in the interim I’ll give you the before and the “for now” photos.

Apologies for the absolute horrible photo - this is from the listing from
before I purchased.

When I moved in the floors were beautiful….but that was about it.

There was this pineapple wallpaper….EVERYWHERE…it covered the diningroom, the kitchen, the hall, the back entry, the stairway and even the basement stairwell….I’m not kidding.

Phone photo from the walk through with my agent.  This is the view into my livingroom - you can see the now
on my livingroom here

I get the desire to create a unified flow but this was ridiculous.

The old fashioned shades & window a/c certainly make a design statement don't they?

So down it came…and luckily for me it was a really thick vinyl paper that was not well adhered to the wall so it literally peeled right off in sheets.

And the other side of the room looks into the kitchen and behind that lovely door
are stairs to the 2nd floor.  You can see in the first photo that the stairs were covered
in a lovely neon green low pile carpet.

I had painted my livingroom in a taupe-y brown color (Benjamin Moore’s Truffle) and thought that maybe a nice light aqua-y blue would be lovely since there is an open archway between the rooms.  Blue and brown are complimenting colors right?

First try...not quite.  Apparently I was in the middle of hanging the sheers when I took this pic.

Well, once I got the blue up I liked it alright but was stuck in what color to paint my kitchen (the next room).  I didn’t want rainbow brite’s house and my bedroom was pink at the time so what to do…

The door is now gone as is the neon green carpet.  Stairs still need to be finished
but they sure do look better already

Within a month of getting the blue up I repainted a more neutral color – Benjamin Moore’s Handmade.  It’s a really warm golden beige (think manila folders with a gold tint) and just makes the white woodwork pop.

The chandelier has been replaced and the window a/c unit is long gone

Turned out just the perfect neutral for my little 1929 bungalow.

Looking through from my kitchen all the way into my livingroom.  The colors make sense to
me here.  You can also still spy a little bit of that pineapple wallpaper behind my china
cabinet...for now

I have 3 windows in this room but it’s not a particularly bright room so while I love, love, love drapes I’m worried adding them to the room will darken the room too much so I’ve stuck with white sheers for now.

I’m still contemplating the drape thing but for now it’s just the sheers.

The kitchen is going to get a major makeover (probably not this year) but you can see a little peak like that flooring don't you?

I also am still vacillating on wall art..the space over the desk needs a little something but I haven’t hit on the right thing…yet.  I love all of the plate walls I am seeing these days and there are so many inspiration pics on Pinterest….maybe that’s the answer.

Will keep contemplating for now and keep you all updated as I experiment.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wandering in Charlotte....Again

You all know by now if you’ve followed along for very long that I travel a bit for my job.  It’s not always to great places but I always try to see something local where I am heading.  It’s generally varied and often in places where conferences are held…Phoenix, Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, etc….what is unusual however is travel to the same city multiple times a year…that being said It’s been a very unusual year already.  I was back in Charlotte this week for a very quick meeting (and will be heading back again in May).

It was very quick…flight landed Tuesday at 5 pm and I left to return back to Boston Wednesday at 6 pm with a dinner and full day meeting between.

This was the dessert for my lunch meeting...oh my so amazing...and no I couldn't eat all of the frosting (it is a triple
decker after all)

Who has time for anything else when booking it that close?  Well, much to my surprise (and pleasure) my meeting broke a couple of hours before expected and luckily I had brought my handy little “shop hit list” with me.  Perfect!

My NC shop list.  I keep a separate worksheet for restaurants & sites as well

Since I travel a bit I keep a handy dandy excel spreadsheet with info on all the places I read about on other blogs, magazines, Yelp, or my good friend Google.  It really comes in handy when I have an impromptu trip and don’t have time to do digging to see what I want to do.

Well, after going down the list I picked Century Vintage and headed that way.  Since my “hit list” is gathered over time often I don’t really remember the details of the shop I put on the list so sometimes I’m never entirely sure what I am going to find…it’s like its own little adventure.

Central Ave....surprise, surprise there were several shops in this little neighborhood

Century Vintage is what I would categorize as a “junk shop” (in the best absolute possible way) not really antiques but lots and lots of really funky interesting vintage things.  With my limited (as usual…insert scoff here) suitcase space I was very selective and didn’t end up buying anything.  Fun looking though.

Some of the fun I found at Century Vintage on Central Ave in Charlotte

Right next door is Ten Fifteen Antiques, much more of a hybrid of a traditional antique shop and a junk (ie thrift) shop.  If you are looking for a huge selection of plates for the ubiquitous decorative plate wall Ten Fifteen is the place to go…they had an absolute TON of dishes.  Now you know me….it took everything in my being but I stood strong and left with just the money in my pocket and headed toward the airport to catch my flight (she says optimistically since ANOTHER storm was due to hit Boston).

China, Blue Transferware, Milk Glass and a fun gumball machine display at Ten Fifteen on Century Ave in Charlotte

One of my little tricks in cities where I am not entirely familiar but want to explore is to set my Garmin to avoid highways.  This keeps me on the side roads and usually I get to see something of the city and you never know what you are going to find along the way.  This is how I stumbled into Clearing House.

I was driving down the road and spotted this sign and slammed on my brakes (note to fellow drivers, I might not be the best candidate to tailgate :-).

And oh my gosh I’m so glad I did…beautiful, beautiful, beautiful things and really fair prices.  Clearing House is a consignment shop so they have a little bit of everything decorative but all of it really great.

This little beauty did come home with me....I have been struggling with an arrangement of pin trays and this one
I think will add just the right color/balance to the collection I have...stay tuned for pics when I get them all hung

Funny thing, there was a lovely older lady dropping some small items off to consign and chatting with the shop manager while I was lurking around sneaking photos.  She was inquiring to whether or not they were accepting china or if they were over stock (is there really such a thing?) she thought that with all of the “old ladies” passing on there must be an over-abundance of inventory because the “younger generation doesn’t really buy as much china do they?”  I assured her that there really is a market of china addicts out there in the “younger set”.

Oh my this was just magnificent in person...the prettiest shade of pink!

No question I am heading back to Clearing House on my next Charlotte trip...maybe I should just bring an empty suitcase next time.

I am still kicking myself for not bringing one of these repurposed
vintage jewel cuffs home with me!  I guess it's something to
look forward to for my next visit.