Today you are you, that’s truer than true, there’s no one alive that’s youer than you. ♥ Dr. Seuss
I have to tell you about a moment of homemaking exhilaration I experienced the other morning. I was nurking around the kitchen (definition of nurking: more is being accomplished than when simply lurking), munching left-over Orange Cake from the dinner party we’d had the night before (luscious pineapple filling; delicious fruit for breakfast); I was emptying the dishwasher, putting a mixing bowl back on the high shelf, getting things back in order; my mind was wandering around like a butterfly with no particular place to go. Both kitchen doors were open, a soft breeze up from the harbor was drifting through the screens, sun was splashed around the room; I washed my yellow depression glasses in warm soapy water while humming Polka Dots and Moonbeams with the stereo (you can hum it too, click on and come back!), and listened to the birds singing outside the window. I set the glasses to dry on a dishtowel in front of the open window; then I got the scissors and went out to the garden in the morning sunshine . . .
. . . skirting around the chicadees and wrens splashing in the bird bath, to cut a few flowers, small pink daisy-like blooms I mixed with wildflowers; brought them back to the kitchen, trimmed their bottoms, and put them in an old sea-green tinted bottle that Joe found when he was digging around in the backyard (and brought to me like a trophy ♥). I walked around the kitchen holding the bottle of flowers out in front of me to see where it would look best. Here? Here? There! I tucked it among the China dishes on the top of my stove . . . and suddenly, right there, pure joyous, on the verge of hysterical, happiness flooded into my heart.
If you’ve read my book Girlfriends Forever, where I wrote about “the Art of the Home,” you know I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl; whatever this need is inside me, I was born with it. So of course I keep doing it. I tucked clean dishtowels over the oven-door handles, picked up all the Beatrix Potter People and wiped the shelf under them, pulled the wet laundry out of the washer into a basket, balanced it on my hip and took it to the back garden and hung the sheets on the line . . . so they’ll dry a little stiff from the salt air and smell good when I put them back on the bed. (Isn’t this music just dreamy? xoxo)
When I came in, the sunlight through the window was sparkling from the drops of water on the glasses; it was so pretty, I went and got the camera. ♥
It occurred to me while I was doing this, that I could make pancakes, sew on buttons, paint my watercolors, make new little scenes on my stove shelf, pet the kitty, set the table with candles and flowers, arrange stacks of antique garden books and tea cups, iron dresser scarves, frost cakes, oil my old wooden spoons, do embroidery on a pin cushion, knit in front of the fire with my girlfriends, and photograph the whole thing all day long and never get tired of it. I don’t even mind housework, because it’s what makes everything polished and sparkling like a fresh piece of watercolor paper, ready to be “painted” on, ready for the bouquets of flowers, the lighting of the candles, favorite books on the table, Frank Sinatra singing; us and our friends surrounded in my kind of homemade beauty. Just like playing house. Is it decorating? Maybe. Is it home making? Definitely. Creativity at its most important highest best. Bottom line is I love it so much, I’m pretty sure I will do almost anything, ANYTHING, for beauty. Of course I have to work, yes, but this is what I really like to do. Make beauty, nurk, decorate, and eat cake. ♥
She was overcome by an attack of pathological enthusiasm. ♥ Robert Lowell
So here, and in the next pages of this section, is my enthusiastic version of Decorating 101; easy ideas and tips for making home sweet home. Everything I know about decorating, and housekeeping, and less. Because as the Dr. Seuss quote above says, it’s all about you, and no one is youer than you. For instance, this basket is me-er than me. I could find a new one, but I love this one because it’s crooked and old and is hooked to history. And, at least in my imagination, it knows more about Thanksgiving than I do. But there’s no right way, no “best basket” — it’s all individual, youer than you. ♥
So whether you’re attracted to old-fashioned cottage style, clean and spare modern, whimsical and eclectic, charming country, Victorian vintage, comfy English, simple Swedish, elegant French, polished traditional, rosey romantic, cat-lady-cozy, or the ever-popular no-name decorating, we all have one important thing in common, we love our homes. ♥ We love a comfortable, nurturing environment, love seeing ourselves reflected in the things around us. Making a home for ourselves and our families does more for our general well-being and happiness than the everydayness of it might suggest; it’s second nature for most of us, because H♥ME is the place where L♥VE grows.
♥ ♥ ♥
Here’s part of what I wrote in my diary about my first little house on the island. In a true example of pathological enthusiasm, this goes on for six pages, and it was only a one-bedroom house! I guess I never wanted to forget it! I wrote my first book in this house and still have dreams about it.
♥ ♥ ♥