Happy Mother’s Day From the Other Side of the World

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On a personal note, I think today is the first Mother’s Day I’ve spent without my child.   In fact, I’m sure of it.   I suppose this makes good practice for next year when Elisabeth will be at college and Mother's Day isn’t one of those holidays you come home for.    Still, she is missed, though she left me a  message early this morning at 4:00 am wishing me a happy day.  She certainly sounded happy herself, off with her classmates in a Bedouin tent somewhere in a biblical desert. 

 

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Leaving for Poland and Israel:   Elisabeth, first row, far right – face half cut off in the camera. 

 

She left with her senior class for a week in Poland, then three more weeks in Israel.  Elisabeth has only attended two schools – Shlenker, her elementary, and Emery-Weiner, her middle and high school, both are private Jewish day schools.   The graduation class consists of 60 teens, most of whom have been in school together since they were two years old.  Sheltered?   I’m afraid so.   This trip is the culmination of 15 years of daily classes on Judaica, Zionism and Hebrew.   School is over for them now.  Finals are history, as is the senior prom. The graduation ceremony will take place when they return home.   A few in her class will be headed back to Israel for their first year of college.   For a while, that was Elisabeth’s plan, instead she’s chosen to stay in the states.  I wonder if she will regret that decision after this adventure.

 

 

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After a grueling and very depressing week in Poland spent visiting concentration camps and ancient synagogues, the seniors arrived in Israel.   They first went for a swim in the Dead sea.  Then, before sunrise, they climbed to the top of Masada where they watched the sun come up.   That’s her, smiling, the first blond on the left, at the top of Masada.

 

 

image For their first Sabbath in Israel, the group dressed up (as dressed up as you get in Israel – meaning no ties EVER!) and headed to the Wailing Wall for services. 

 

 

lizzyisrael3 Here, two of her classmates write out their prayers and place them in the cracks of the Wailing Wall, a tradition that most visitors do, regardless of religion. 

 

 

 

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The next day, it was another desert – this time in the south - and a camel ride, along with a feast and sleep inside a Bedouin’s tent.   With Skype and cell phones, the world is a much smaller place than it was when I first visited Israel.  A call home back then, cost a fortune.   We are lucky to talk, almost for free, to Elisabeth every day.  Texting goes on all day long.    She is already hoarse and sounds tired and run down.  I imagine she’ll be sick by the time she gets home in a few more weeks.    The school informed us that a small group already have visited the doctor.   That’s what happens when the schedule is so full, bordering on brutal.   Of course, it’s not all religion and seriousness, she happily told me she had gone shopping for clothes to take to college.  Only Elisabeth would find trendy fashion in the Holy Land.  

If you have never visited Israel, I urge to think about doing so.    What most people don’t realize is Israel is on the coast of the Mediterranean.   It’s a beautiful country, with  its long border a bright blue ocean reflecting the brighter blue sky.  At night, the stars are amazing.     The food is delicious and fresh, with vegetarian or dairy breakfasts and lunches – all cheeses, juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, and wonderful traditional Middle Eastern cuisine at dinner.  Since Israel built the protective fence around their country several years ago, terrorism is almost non existent now.   It’s a vibrant, young country, a world leader in technology, medicine, and agriculture.  It’s an oasis in the desert, a verdant miracle created from the sweat and tears of the generations before.   So, while I miss my daughter terribly today, I’m proud she’s visiting her homeland.   After studying it for so many years, I can’t imagine how it must feel for her to see the bible come to life.

 

image A special poem to Elisabeth, who was, after all, born on the Passover holiday:

 

A Newborn Girl at Passover

by Nan Cohen

Consider one apricot in a basket of them.
It is very much like all the other apricots--
an individual already, skin and seed.

Now think of this day. One you will probably forget.
The next breath you take, a long drink of air.
Holiday or not, it doesn't matter.

A child is born and doesn't know what day it is.
The particular joy in my heart she cannot imagine.
The taste of apricots is in store for her.



 




Wishing all of you, a wonderful and happy Mother’s Day!!!



Joni

Vieux Interiors – On The Move

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Vieux Interiors:   The matching arched mirrors are so pretty!    I really love Vieux’s collection of antique chairs.

 

Houston now has several great shopping destinations for antiques and decor – the Bissonnet-Kirby area is one, another is Lower West Alabama.  There is also the Westheimer area, the Heights, and Ferndale.   Each destination is home to many wonderful shops - after all, competition brings more customers.   Lately though, the area around Upper West Alabama is the hottest destination, garnering lots of attention and traffic.   It is teeming with antique and decor stores such as Indulge, Thompson-Hanson, 2620, Chateau Domingue, Pilie, and The Gray Door.   Within just a few blocks along this stretch of Upper West Alabama, you can satisfy every need for the home – antiques, landscaping, bath, bedroom, architectural elements, furniture, and you can even satisfy your appetite at the trendy Tiny Boxwoods. 

The latest neighbor to move in is Vieux Interiors.   Last January, Vieux finally pulled up stakes from their former, God-forsaken address to move to 3701 West Alabama.  I’m teasing about their former location, but honestly, I could NEVER find it!!!  It was so isolated and out of the way, that I’m thrilled Vieux is now inside the loop!!!  I dropped by the other day to say hi and check out their new shop.   The store is large and bright with windows and doors that run along the front and back entrances.  The merchandise is a wonderful collection of old and new - antiques mixed in the mid century designs and even contemporary pieces.   There are also lots of accessories, things with a small enough price tag to make shopping guilt free.  As usual, the staff is super friendly – DeWayne Formby might just be the absolute nicest person in the business. 

 

 

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The store is large, but nicely organized into smaller vignettes.   This gray painted furniture section was one of my favorites.

 

 

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They have a beautiful assortment of lamps and vases like these persimmon colored ones.    Loved the double clam shells!!

 

 

image A rare pair of painted gray armoires.   I loved the map and the gray chest. 

 

 

image These painted chests would make great nightstands!!

 

 

image I really liked all the smalls – such as these alabaster grapes and the books in gold or silver.

 

 

 

image Favorites:  aqua and green covered books.    These would look so great in bookshelves.

 

 

 

image There were several gorgeous coral roses in the shop.   And, these photo albums would make nice gifts. 

 

 

 

image So unusual – a rustic dough table.  It would make a wonderful island in a country home’s kitchen. 

 

 

 

image I really fell in love with these glass jars that are hand painted in red and gold.   So beautiful!!!

 

 

 

 

image More gorgeous lamps!!!  There is also a large assortment of contemporary art work. 

 

 

 

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To give you an idea of how big the store is – this is just one half of one side!   The shop goes on and on.  

 

 

Let’s Party:

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To celebrate their new location, Vieux Interiors is having a opening party today – Thursday, May 6th at 6-9 pm.  It is open to the public, so stop by for wine, hors d’oeuvres and mint juleps – and to shop, of course!!!!!   

The location:  3701 West Alabama St. at Timmons.

 

 

NOTE:   Vieux has a great web site with online shopping – to visit, go HERE.

THE STONE TURRET HOUSE

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I got a call from my friend, the client who lives in the Tanglewood House, telling me all about this house she had just been to in West University, my stomping grounds.   She was raving on and on about the landscaping - “you have to go see this house, you’ll just love it!!!”   When I asked her about the interiors, she said “you’ll like them I’m sure, but truthfully, I was so busy looking at the landscaping I didn’t concentrate on the inside.”    After getting the address, I thought I would do a quick stalkerish drive by, just to do some preliminary reconnaissance - you know, all legal and on the up and up, of course.   Driving by the house, I could see exactly why my friend was hyperventilating over the landscaping – it was just so Texas French, for lack of a better term.  I recognized the house immediately.  I have passed by it a million times probably – well, maybe just a 1/2 million times, and I was itching to photograph it.   I quickly texted my friend  –   “Can you really get me inside that house?”  

And so, there I was, just a week or two later, with my camera – taking pictures all over this poor woman’s house.  She had been thrust into this voyeuristic endeavor without a clue of how many people would now be peering at her house, her landscaping, her furniture, and judging all the design choices she and her husband had lovingly made together.   Standing at the front door, I was a little apprehensive myself.    I was flying blind – what if I didn’t like the decor, what would I say?   Once the door opened, I let out a huge whoosh of air – with one quick glance, I knew I was going to absolutely love it.    She had after all, that most wonderful combination:   S&S aka  Seagrass and Slipcovers – which of course only made me love her house all that more.  What is it about those two S’s that causes me to lust after a house?   I’m beginning to think that even a shack in the dreariest part of town, with a Pottery Barn seagrass rug and white slipped sofa from Ikea would send me into rapture.   But I digress.  

After a quick tour of the inside, the three of us walked out into her backyard – and I my jaw dropped.  It was so green and lush, divided into “rooms” by paths of gravel.   There was even an outside living area, and an open to the sky stone fireplace.   I immediately thought that if I lived here, I would be in the back yard most of the day and night – reading, eating, and sitting by the fire.   The owner assured me that her husband does spend most of every evening out back, nursing a cigar. I thought I probably would even take up cigar smoking  if I lived there!    Of course, by the time the tour was all over, I was begging her to sell me her house.  It has all the charm of an older house, yet it is so open and bright, the rooms all graciously flow into one another.   Most likely to get rid of the camera wielding idiot, the owner promised she would give me first dibs if they ever do decide to sell.  I’m not waiting by the phone.  

 

The Tour:

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The Stone Turret House:   The front walk is made up of gravel and large pavers.

 

 

 

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The front walkway leads to a large terrace set behind a low stone wall.    

 

 

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The front door is charming – with its small window and arch.   Notice the iron balconies on the windows and above the front door. 

 

 

imageThe house is located on a corner – here the front terrace leads off to a gravel path that goes down to the side of the house and onto the back yard and garage.

 

 

 

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The path that leads from the front terrace to the side of the house.  On the right is a side door where more familiar visitors enter the house. 

 

 

 

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The side of the house – showing the entry way into the family room.    The second, smaller terrace is planted with mostly perennials. 

 

 

 

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The backyard is behind the hedge.  The garage is to the left – out of view. 

 

 

 

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The back yard.  This view shows the rear of the house.  The breakfast room is behind the French doors, while the family room is to the right.  

 

 

 

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Standing on the back porch, facing the back yard.  The garage is to the left, the open room/summer kitchen is to the right.  Behind the gate on the far right is the open air fireplace.   The large stone path divides the backyard into two “rooms” – a fountain and table and chairs are to the left.  To the right is a series of flower beds reached by gravel pathways.  Until just recently, this backyard was just a sea of grass.

 

 

 

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Along the left side of the back yard is a fountain lit by two gas lanterns.     The street is behind the hedge.

 

 

image On the right side of the yard are a series of flowerbeds, reached by gravel pathways. 

 

 

image Inside the newly converted summer kitchen.   This was once an enclosed room that adjoined the garage.  Now, it is open to the elements.   You can see the house at the end of the stone walkway.

 

 

 

imageAnother view of the summer kitchen room – there is a refrigerator out here and a flatscreen!  No wonder the husband spends all his time out here.

 

 

image  Sitting next to the summer kitchen – is the outdoor fireplace made of the same limestone that is on the house.   Behind the gates is a dog run.

 

 

image Ready to go inside the Stone Turret House?   Inside the turret is a small entry hall that leads to the living room.

 

 

 

image The first view, once you pass the entry room, of the living room.   Beyond the arch is the family room.   The dining room is the right of the living room and the kitchen is to the right of the stairway.  

 

 

image The living room is so beautiful!  There is a custom cut seagrass rug, along with a really pretty and feminine crystal chandelier.   The large arched window is covered in champagne colored silk.   The coffee table is a large mirrored rectangular that the owner recently purchased from Kay O’Toole.   The mantel is original to the house. 

 

 

 

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I love this chair with its large nail heads.    Behind the metal table you can just see into the turret entry hall with its Louis Philippe antique mirror. 

 

 

 

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The sofa is a creamy white slipcover.  Behind the sofa, is a chinoiserie styled desk.  You can see into the kitchen at the left of the desk and the dining room at its right.    I absolutely adore that lantern!   The owner burns real candles in it – so atmospheric!!!

 

 

 

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Hello there!  What I love about the mirror is that it perfectly reflects the gorgeous chandelier.   The chandelier is really the focal point of the room – you see it twice!!

 

 

image Through the arch is the family room.   The front walkway lines up with the window in the living room, and straight through this archway into the family room, creating an visual axis.   

 

 

 

 

 

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The dining room is to the right of the front door and the living room.    You can see the living room here, through the open doorway.  Through the shutters, you can see the kitchen.  In the dining room there are two matching china cabinets purchased at Joyce Horn Antiques.   The iron chandelier, powered by electric candles that look SO real, is from BROWN.  

 

 

 

image The large oval table from Carl Moore has chairs from BROWN and two mismatched antique host and hostess chairs.   Two large Moroccan lanterns flank the front window.  The curtains are celadon colored sheers with a fleur de lis pattern. 

 

 

 

imageBoth matching china cabinets are filled with gorgeous white ironstone.   The large gilt mirror reflects everything.  

 

 

imageI love this host chair with its gilt finish and the burlap upholstery with nail heads mixed with white linen on its back and seat cushion.  Too cute!!!  You can see the second china cabinet filled with dishes and glasses. 

 

 

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Here’s a closeup of the second china cabinet.  Notice how the back of the cabinets are painted the same color of the sheers.   I love china that is openly displayed like this.  

 

 

 image Connecting to the dining room is the kitchen.  This room was completely remodeled several years ago.    Along the left wall is a short china cabinet, next is the door that leads to the stairwell and then is another taller cabinet that acts as the pantry.   Past the kitchen is the breakfast room which looks out the backyard through French Doors. 

 

 

 

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The walls in the kitchen are stone, like the outside of the house.   The large Wolf range is set inside the stone walls.  Along the left is the pantry with its doors inset with brass grills. 

 

 

image The stone wall wraps around from the range to the sink area.   On the right is open cabinetry to hold the dishes.  To the right of the refrigerator is the dining room.

 

 

 

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I love how there are no upper cabinets – instead there is a row of large windows.  So pretty!!!

 

 

imageThis glass doored cabinet is filled with green glassware – it doubles as a buffet.  Through the door are the stairs off the living room.  

 

 

 imageThe breakfast room off the kitchen runs along the back wall of the house.  A large built in holds even more ironstone.  The owner told us she has been collecting it for years!   The large sunburst mirror  hangs over the small breakfast table that seats two. 

 

 

 

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A close up of the cabinetry.  I love the legs on the center desk section and the beadboard back on the shelves.  

 

 

 

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We now leave the breakfast room for the family room, down a few steps.   Throughout the first floor there is a series of steps that add so much charm to the house.   The floor plan really flows – all the rooms are open to each other, which is unusual in many older homes.  

 

 

imagePast the breakfast room door is the family room.  This large room has a custom cut seagrass rug.  Through two arched French doors, you can see into the back yard    There is a gorgeous antique armoire that hides the TV.   This room connects directly to the living room.

 

 

image In the family room, there is a cute yellow and white checked slipped sofa with club chairs that have a Lee Jofa crewel fabric used on the the back cushions and pillows.

 

 

imageThe family room connects directly to the front living room. 

 

 

 

 image This side door is where family and friends come into the house after parking on the side street.  It leads directly to the gravel terrace with the perennials.

 

 

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Another picture of the side terrace off the family room.   So pretty!!!

 

 

image The view of the family room leading into the living room.  The front sidewall was moved to create an axis from the front yard all the way through the living room past the family room, out to the backyard.

 

 

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The gravel and stone walkway that creates the axis from the front living room through the family room. 

 

 

 

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Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the upstairs.  I didn’t even GET to see the upstairs!   But,  I was so grateful to see the downstairs that I didn’t even care.  Apparently, there is some redecorating going on up there. 

Giving a special thank you to the homeowner for all her gracious hospitality!!!    I hope you all enjoyed seeing pictures of the Stone Turret House.  As usual, I am always looking for houses to show on the blog – in Houston or else where.  If you are interested or know someone who might be – please email me at mrballbox329@aol.com

 

 

Credits: 

Interior designer:  Diana Martin at Habicon@comcast.net.   Diana assisted with paint colors, living room furniture and designing the kitchen cabinets.

Landscape Architect:  Suzy Fischer with Fischer Schalles Inc. and Mike Gibson who does ongoing installations, advice and upkeep:   713-520-1395

 

 

 

Reminder:   We have a giveaway on the Skirted Roundtable – hurry!!!!!  www.skirtedroundtable.blogspot.com