Monday, May 10, 2010

Isn't it grand to grow old?

A friend of mine whom I haven't seen in years stopped by the shop the other day. It was so wonderful to see a familiar, wonderful person with whom I had once shared so many pleasant memories in the past -- my wedding, the birth of my first child, and just plain old girlfriend moments that mean so much in that instant but that you can't quite recall years later except to say that they were great. She walked in and said, "Is this the Karina Gentinetta I know? Is this all you????" Of course, she knew me as the practicing, mad lawyer that I was and I guess, not having seen me in years, the jump to this is quite striking to a lot of people who knew me as I was.

After exchanging all the recent (or maybe not so recent) news of children, husbands and lives, I just told her how absolutely stunning she looked (and she did). She was radiant! And she said the same about me (which, of course, I don't feel at all) and after vehemently denying any glamour on my side, I told her how I was turning 42 this Saturday (the one that just passed). She said, "Oh, isn't it grand to grow old?" My brain went into instant replay. Wait -- say that again????? Old? Wonderful? Are you freaking mad??????? Did you just hear what I said, woman? I'm going to be 42! 42! Did you hear what I said?

But she did and she said the same thing, "I know. Don't you love it?"

I went home that evening and thought about that all night and the next morning. Either she was nuts afterall or there was really something to what she said. After I thought about it, I started embracing that concept. -- Isn't it grand to grow old? And I went through my day like any other day. I saw photos which my friend Claudia is tormenting with daily regarding her flea market trip to Paris. :) The treasures, the relics, the finds that line up the streets in Paris! These things are divine! They are old and age has perfected them. They carry the patina and crusty paint of years of enjoyment.

Am I crazy or aren't these chairs, oozing with age, just simply gorgeous???? (photos courtesy of Claudia Strasser).

And these Italian sconces with their original crystals and gilded patina.

And this 19th c. Spanish 5 arm tole sconce?????

Or this chippy Italian desk that has layers and layers of leftover paint and lots of stories to tell.

And somewhere between all of this revelation while I was at the shop, I got one of those video messages from my husband. I opened it up and on my phone screen was my 6 year old son, Liam. He was showing me how he lost his tooth just a few minutes before. His very first tooth!!!! My little boy!!! And my first impulse was to cry. Not only am I old but my son is not a baby anymore!!!!!!

But rather than to give in to the impulse and start crying, I stopped myself and thought of what had just happened. My son had lost his very first tooth. His very first tooth. And he was happy. He couldn't wait to show me. And wasn't that grand? This was an occasion to celebrate, not cry.

And so with that, I became a year older and a year wiser.

Yes, Elizabeth, you were so right. It is grand to grow old afterall.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Donate Hair to Clean Up Oil Spills

I swear I'll post a more glamorous post in the next few days with new inventory I've been working on, but in the meantime, I wanted to pass this very important information to anyone out there. Yes, even if you are not affected by the oil spill in the immediate sense, there is something you can do to help out. I have scheduled to get my hair trimmed next week and a girlfriend of mine told me about this.

Hair is THE most efficient material for absorbing oil -- that's why we have to wash it so often!

Reuse of Hair Clippings for Oil Cleanup

Hair is THE most efficient material for absorbing oil -- that's why we have to wash it so often!
Mats of human (and pet) hair, which naturally acts as a sponge to absorb oil from air and water are being used with oil spills, plant nurseries and more.

In the recent Calfornia oil spill, the hair mats were used to soakup the oil, and then volunteers added mushrooms, which absorb the oil over a 12-week period to turn the hair mats into nontoxic compost.

Hair Salons Divert Hair Clippings for Recycling

Hair salons generously send their swept up hair clippings to a recycling depot in California provided by St. Vincent de Paul's. This partnership program combines reuse, micro-economy and ecological oil spill clean up. Salons have free access to the Excess Access database which catalogs the postage donations and emails receipts for the recycled hair donations.
There are over 370,000 hair salons in the US and each cut about one pound of hair a day! Matter of Trust does the outreach for the program through posters in salons and media PR.

Please let your hair salon and dog groomer know about this wonderful program that will help all of us in the long run. Please, think of them who can't help themselves.

And stay tuned for a glamorous post soon. I promise.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Keeping the Faith as Another Tragedy Hits the Gulf Coast

I just finished doing a post on Swedish antiques. However, as I pressed the "publish post" button, I felt a sense of angst and a bit of sadness for not writing what was truly on my mind. Don't get me wrong, you should read the post on Swedish furniture as it is an inspiring one. However, I felt compelled to write something about "design" because that is what is expected of some of these blogs. But after sending it, I realized that you can read about that in any book, at any time. I felt hypocritical to write about something that seems so small compared to what I really wanted to write about which is what is going on in the Gulf Coast right now. I know that most, if not all, of you have read or heard about the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Even to us in New Orleans, initially the news seemed like a distant story about a tragic event somewhere out there. Not really having much to do with "us" or "me" or anything relative to the present. But as the oil started approaching our wetlands (and by "our" I don't mean just us in Louisiana), and the whole picture of the effects of this tragedy has began unfolding, I realize that it is something that is worth more than just a passing concern. If you haven't done so, please take a moment to read about it. President Obama was here this afternoon and truly realized the impact this event will have not just on Louisiana and our neighboring states, but on the whole country and the economy. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will.

As for us here, it is again a reminder that our world is such a precious place and it is up to us to take care of it. I have already signed up to volunteer in the clean up efforts in whatever capacity I can (even if it means serving food to the volunteers themselves). What breaks my heart, in addition to the families of the 11 offshore workers who died in the explosion, is the devastating effect this will have on our wildlife, fisherman and wetlands. The wetlands are our natural barriers and protection. It also is home to much wildlife. Rescue efforts have been deployed to not only contain the oil that keeps leaking at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day, but also to help those animals whose lives are endangered. I ask that you please take a moment to do whatever you think you can to help out not only for the Gulf Coast Region's sake, but also for the wellbeing of so many other Americans who will be impacted by this tragedy. Also, if you are able, please donate to a wildlife rescue organization in your area that may be helping to this cause. Already, we've seen a tremendous response from the wildlife rescue organizations in California and we thank you for that. We are all in this together.

Below are some recent photos that speak a thousand words.

Home, Swede Home

First, I must apologize for taking so long to post. It has been long overdue and every day that went by without a post, I felt the loneliness of the silence.

The truth is that I've been busy gathering new pieces, picking fabric and just the right paint with which to breathe new life into some of these antiques. A lot of my pieces on 1st dibs were just recently shipped to a lovely woman in NY who is building her beach house in Rhode Island. Others went to a house that is in the process of being built in Hattiesburg, MS. I am delighted that my lovely furnishings have found a new life and a new home. I feel very connected to these pieces which I hand pick and rescue from their "old age." These are pieces that were once glamourous and graced the most beautiful apartments or palazzos in Europe. Some are pieces that were brought on ships with immigrants like me who were starting a new home in distant lands. Whatever their past and destinies, they have stories to tell. They've seen more in their hundreds of years of existence than you and I will ever see in a lifetime. Like the movie, The Red Violin (and if you haven't seen it, go rent it!), they are pieces that were passed down from generation to generation -- perhaps not within the same family -- sold, resold, handed down, tossed away.

Recently, I have been captivated by the simplicity and palette of swedish antiques. In the next few weeks, you will see this influence in a lot of my new inventory. When we think of Swedish style, we often think of the familiar white and blue-hued images of the Gustavian period. However, the Swedish design is vast, including the Baroque, Rococo, Karl Johan, Biedermeier, and Modernist periods. The secret to the Swedish aesthetic is having the confidence to mix old and new while maintaining a clean and simple balance.

What is most interesting about Swedish furniture is that its style and even color scheme were a direct result of the environment in which Swedes found themselves. The long, dark winter months contrasted so greatly to the Swedish summer's constant light. In order to maintain an interior blance throughout the year, Scandinavian style allowed for the maximum amount of light to enter their interiors, even in their darkest days of winter. Hence, their use of mirrors and crystals became popular as were clean interiors, painted with light and earth toned colors, efficient and welcoming.

To me, Swedish antiques and furniture breathe light and freshness. In New Orleans and other coastal cities with mild climates and hot and humid summers, the Swedish color palette fits right at home. For me, it has always given me a sense of calmness and relief.

Enjoy some of these photos of some favorite Swedish interiors that have inspired my sense of style and direction. These and more can be seen in Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems gorgeous book, Swedish Interiors.