Welcome to That Old House

Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet.
This blog named itself. When I tell local people where we live, they almost always say, "Oh! You live in that old house!"
We do, and I'm glad you've come to visit -- Cass

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stuffing In More Stuff

You wouldn't think, to look at it,
that our old house is made of elastic.

Turns out, it is not.
Despite our best efforts to make it so, it is not made of elastic.
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Turns out, cedar clapboards will only stretch so far
to accommodate too much stuff.

In the past 10 days, we've incorporated much of my cousin Janet's
belongings from her Philadelphia apartment into That Old House.

An old jelly cupboard, that was loaded with . . .
art supplies!  Boxes and boxes of them.

Then there are the paintings.
Janet's brother, my cousin Bill, was an accomplished artist,
as was their mother, my Aunt Lillian.
(For whom our daughter Anne Lillian is named.)  

Some of the paintings have gone, or are going, to other family members.
Some will live here at That Old House. 
Like this one, above the study sofa.

These two are casually leaning up against the parlor mantel,
as they wait to learn where they will live.

I think this is one that my sister will want.
So, Peggy - items left more than 30 days become the property of the management.
I'm just letting you know.

This big oil is destined for the beach house.  Perfect colors, perfect size.

This still life of fruit, by my Aunt Lillian, has found its home in our dining room.
Yes, there are more paintings.  They are not the stuff problem!

No, I'm afraid the real stuff problem stems from the boxes from Janet's apartment,
combined with our Annie's moving back to That Old House from her apartment in New Brunswick.
Kitchen boxes from Anne's kitchen.  Now in my kitchen.

On Tuesday of this week, Anne moved back home until she can afford an apartment.
She gave away some of her furniture to friends, but some (lots?) came home with her.

Like these big Frenchy dudes, squatting in our study for the time being.

A 1980s vintage Ethan Allen Swedish style settee and some other things are shoe-horned into the
dining room.  By the way, that's another cousin Bill painting on the wall -- the seagulls.
That is not its permanent home; Howard hung it there to keep it safe.

In the front hall, plastic bins and a suitcase.

In the sunroom, we welcome back the Art Deco cocktail table.
And when we say cocktail table,
 we really mean cocktail table!  Hidden bars swing out from each end of this cutie.

 There is stuff all over the place.  I have not photographed the worst of the clutter,
and I'm not even bringing the camera upstairs, where the movers brought most of the boxes and furniture.

It doesn't seem possible that it has been three years since I wrote a blog post about Anne shopping our house
to furnish her grad school apartment.  Wow.  Time does indeed fly.  Three years later, and she's gotten
her Masters in Fine Arts, and yesterday wrapped up her first professional gig, and has two more lined up.  

And I'm still here, still trying to finish decorating That Old House.

Howard lay down the law this morning, as he picked his way through boxes
and climbed over small tables and bins.  Two words: "Storage unit."

Well, I'll get a storage unit.  After all, Howard got his new toy:

Okay, I am lying. 
That is Howard in the driver's seat of that Porsche.
 And my niece Mary in the passenger seat.

And this is Howard painfully unfolding himself from the driver's seat of the Porsche,
which clearly is designed to be driven by people too young to afford it.
But the car belongs to my brother Lindy.
Yes, he has good toys, and he plays nice and shares them.

Now about that storage unit -- I just hate paying money to store stuff.

Hmmm . . . think I can sell that cocktail table at my booth?
What about those two big Frenchy chairs?
Sshhh . . . don't tell Anne.

Do you know I have not posted in almost 2 weeks?
Between Janet's passing and Anne's graduation, my mind has not been much in blog mode.
By now, though, I've got a long list of projects for That Old House.  You'll see!  

Have a lovely Thursday!  -- Cass





Friday, May 18, 2012

How The Other (Middle Class) Half Lived

I've been off the grid.
Sort of.


I've been mostly not near a computer for the past few weeks;
my hardware is still here, but nobody's home.

Except the servants.

Okay, not the servants.
Because the closest we come to having a servant is this:
And mostly we do his bidding.

The picture with the (faux, as in mannequin) servant was not taken in our house.
It was taken in this house, which is like our house, and yet not.
Their front hall stairs.
 This is our house:
Our front hall stairs.

What do our house and this other house have in common?

They were both built in 1832.
They have both been known to spook some people with what might be ghosties.
(Am I being vague enough?)
They were both built as prosperous middle-class family homes.

But while our house was built in the country as a farmhouse:

The other house was a city home for a successful merchant:

And, the other house is a museum.

So that's another difference -- we don't charge you $10 to visit us.
Except on holidays . . . .

But the Merchant's House Museum at 29 East 4th Street in Manhattan is well worth
checking out if you live in the New York area or are visiting from afar, or anear.

When our daughter Alida visited awhile back, she brought her camera.

I was interested to see if this very different house would echo our much more humble dwelling.
Well, it does and it doesn't.

There is a pie safe in the museum kitchen, which is the same shape and construction as ours.

Although ours has wire screening instead of punched tin.



 What's great about the Merchant House is that many of the items in it actually belonged to the Tredwell family,
who lived in it from shortly after it was built, until 1933.  Almost one hundred years in one family.
In 1936 it became a museum, decorated as the family would have done in the early years.
 I'm not sure I'd want to work in this kitchen, mostly because that stove would scare me to death,
but the kitchen is beautiful in its simplicity.  I am pretty certain that is a soapstone sink in the corner.
We don't have a soapstone sink here at That Old House -- we have practical modern stainless.
But our countertops are the less practical but beautiful soapstone, a time-honored kitchen material.
The stove is amazing, even if scary.  We don't have a wood or coal stove,
but we do have a very old copper kettle, rather like the one on the right.
Old picture; it is not Christmas time even in New Jersey right now!
The Merchant's House Museum has some lovely family bedrooms:  

Love the Empire furniture in this room!

There are fancy-schmancy pillars -- the house is Greek Revival style inside,
but more of a Federal style outside.

The entrance is graceful, with fluted Ionic columns
that flank the door, echoing the interior architecture.

Our porch columns, which are Doric style Tuscan columns, look pretty plain Jane by comparison.
As suits a farmhouse!

In the dining room, part of the double parlor, it looks like preparations are underway for a party.

The dining area fireplace has a stove inset,
what all the cool kids were using to heat their homes in the 1830s.


It's hard to see, but there's an insert in the parlor fireplace as well.

We think because of the shallow firebox in our
parlor fireplace that it, too, had a modern, cool-kid stove to heat that room.

Our mantel is painted wood; the Merchant's House has marble mantels.
Snazzy.

And also snazzy -- Poppies!
And ours have started opening and blooming, bless their little hearts.

Poppies have such a short season that I stare at them a lot.
Amazing, gorgeous, explosive silky color.

Okay, I'm done.
I got a kick out of comparing two houses, born the same year, some things in common,
but really quite different -- City Mouse and Country Mouse.

Grab your Friday and enjoy! -- Cass

Feathered Nest Friday makes its home at French Country Cottage.  Click here!
The Charm of Home features Home Sweet Home on Fridays.  Click here!
It's Vintage Inspiration Friday at Common Ground.  Click here!
At My Romantic Home, it's Show And Tell Friday Click here!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chive Talking, and Anne Gets A New Hoodie

 It was a great weekend to be a Mom.
Well, it was a great weekend to be this Mom, anyway.


And now, I'm a-gonna brag.
You have been warned.

Our daughter Anne, second from left in the picture below, now holds a Master of Fine Arts in Design.
This year's graduates and their parents joined some faculty for an informal lunch on Friday,
at the beautiful old home of the woman on the left, below,
who is also the Associate Head of the Design program, to talk about the past 3 years.
From left, Vickie (a professor and administrator), Anne, Stefanie (the other costume design MFA),
Ellen (a professor) and Cathy (who runs the costume shop -- where the magic is made.)
On Saturday, it was Convocation for the Mason Gross School of the Arts, the Rutgers arts conservatory.
It was held at the State Theater in downtown New Brunswick, where Howard and I (inexplicably)
were given VIP seats.  We had a great view of Annie's head.
And a clear view of her walk across the stage when her name was called.  

For 246 years, since 1766, students have been granted degrees by Rutgers;
that's a lot of caps and gowns and proud parents.



On Sunday -- Mother's Day -- 13,465 students were granted degrees
in a university-wide graduation in the football stadium.
It was the largest-ever graduating class at Rutgers.

We were not there for the festivities;
Anne had already started putting her shiny new degree to good use, and was at work.

Now, about that new hoodie . . . . it's regalia time!

The hood is brown velvet, indicating a degree in Fine Arts,
and the red satin lining is for Rutgers, the Mothership.


Considering that Rutgers had more than 13-thousand graduates, it does amaze me
that the size of Anne's graduating class for costume design was . . . two.
Each year, only two students are accepted into this three-year master's program,
and the same with lighting design and set design.

So, dear Anne . . . Congratulations on a very impressive achievement,
and making it through three years of intense study and work, with blood, sweat, and even tears.

Dad and I could not be more proud.

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Doesn't this look like the edge of a beautiful ball gown
or even a wedding dress?

It's the edge of an iris, one of those flashy, show-off-y garden stalwarts.
Our iris plants are in full cry.
 Is it just me, or does this one look like a face?
An angry face.

Most are nestled along the stone wall border.

 My favorite ones, the peach and lavender, are not looking too healthy this year.

They jumped the gun, and began budding way too early because of the mild early spring.
And their little noses got frozed a bit.

And now for some Chive Talkin' . . . 

I know that to get the best flavor from chives in the garden, you should not let them bloom.
Or at least that's what I've heard.
But who can resist those lavender fluffballs of delight?

And speaking of fluffballs of delight . . . the State Theater where the Convocation was held
is a really beautiful building, with a fabulous chandelier.

Too large for our dining room, don't you think?

Have a lovely Wednesday!  -- Cass


Visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.
At It's A Very Cherry World, it is Rednesday.  Go visit Sue!
Faded Charm blog has its 152nd White Wednesday.  Go!