Gruesome Halloween!

Not only did we wake up to a forecast of snow on Saturday but also found a gruesome sight in the front garden after pulling open the curtains!

... Chuck?
or the deer?


Finally! Face to face with Shabby Chic Inspirations by Rachel Ashwell

As we said, what seemed so terribly long ago at the start of autumn in our Sun Porch Transformation post, the day finally came and we went to Rachel Ashwell's SoHo book signing on Mercer St.  What an outstandingly "yummy" evening!

On our way to Manhattan
We had seen Rachel Ashwell in her store, by absolute chance about a year ago infact, so it was really fantastic to actually meet her this evening.  Last year for a birthday celebration we met, Bunny Williams, oddly enough at her book signing for her new book called Scrapbook for Living.at Treillage..
Last Year with Bunny (photo courtesy Bunny's Facebook)

... and then right afterwards we went to go dance ourselves into a fury watching Florence & the Machine perform at Terminal 5.  So naturally to really balance all moods and all things considered beforehand we decided to pop into the Shabby Chic store to shop sofas, comfy headboards, and really start the evening off right.  Unexpectedly, there was Rachel!

First, we noticed her voice.  We looked at one another thinking we had played one of her DVDs in our collective mind and almost expected to hear her say, "Please sir, just paint my walls white." but this was real life and not a video.  There she was, just simply existing along all her bits in her world while looking the store over.  She was resetting the arrangements while photographing her inspiration board...
...and then later what looked like doing a consultation or giving an interview.  

Certainly we could've asked for photographs or simply pulled up shabby chic chairs as friends are wont to do and casually listened in as her support without interference as chipped paint is never wont to detract from the function or beauty of a piece of furniture.  However, we didn't want to intrude; we've a complete respect for the process that is part of the act of creation and thought our inner-cheering altruism, rather than that of foam-finger-fandom, would be collectively more helpful and appreciated as a way to give her encouragement.

And so, here we are, one year later finally meeting Rachel at her invitation to the signing of her new book Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces.  We got there just in time to hear her explain in her own words all about the new book and all that was within it's pages.

There are not just varying creamy or shadowy white nuances of pale pinks and greens one associates with the characteristic Shabby Chic palate.  Rachel is also embracing the Shabby Chic aesthetics of others thru their jeweled tones and natural happenstance beauty that otherwise might be neglected in complete tragedy as only trendy design fashion or over saturated environments, but rather found as she sees them like lone objects, as the vivid namesake would suggest, as jewels, giving affluence to a genre of deep forethought and purpose vs that of a mere whim.

Rachel also spoke of the friendships and the connections throughout the book and the journey she wishes it would take us on.  Next she answered questions from the audience collected around her along with mushy pumpkins, pillows, sofas and chairs - enlightening us by even going all the way back to the beginning of where Shabby Chic's own namesake is derived.

All in all her presentation, her speaking, her story telling, the powerpoint deck (seriously kidding there!) was a very intimate collection of recollections and quick stories that brought smiles to everyone.

And then, it was time to finally have a conversation for the ages, 1 on 1, with Rachel Ashwell and all about her Shabby Chic world...

The beginning...


Red chair with a bowl of red pine cones

Just a pop of red in the living room in, of all things, a Shabby Chic bowl.

Here on the coffee table

Happy 6th October 15th

Below are photos of a fantastic autumn Saturday at the Union County Four Centuries in a weekend.  The weather was just perfect.  It was also our 6 year anniversary!
Who does not love wine, wife & song
Will be a fool for his lifelong!
We only went to a few select sites after stopping by the Long Hill Senior Center's annual Rummage Sale which is always a hit for great finds and treasured objects - cheap.  We have great luck there - except this year, I couldn't believe it - there were no records!
I wasn't low so I guess that's karma - I'll take it!
But we did find two cute matching baskets for .50 each to put various amounts of to be determined bits of various, various in them.  And scored 3 very cute hand-made bird houses - will post pictures later... each just $5.

We started the tour in the next town over from Long Hill, New Providence, at the Salt Box Museum.  It's two older houses pieced together.  There's a lot of great historical objects in the museum as well as some beautiful architectural details.  We were fascinated by an old pie cabinet with it's original finish of buttermilk paint, tinted blue by - what else! - blueberries.  We're so going to try this, maybe on something not quite as large as a cabinet, perhaps an old stool - can't imagine the number of blueberries needed.  The docent was a very knowledgeable man, should've caught his name, he was super informative telling us about this gorgeous, slightly tattered - tres shabby chic! - french gown - that back in the day cost 10k to buy, amazing!  And so, for some reason we left the camera in the car and we didn't take any photos - so you'll have to swing by and see it yourself (pdf).   Found some photos here on this article about the Salt Box Museum.

Next up was a few places in Summit.  We debated swinging by the Summit Antiques or grabbing lunch at Monster Sushi for clear soup, veggie tempura and they have the best ginger dressing for their salad - but we just went there recently and really wanted to see more sites on the list.  So instead we went to the Summit Playhouse - again - no photos - a fun and informative tour.  We're committed to popping by for a play after having stopped in.

We then headed over to Twin Maples.  Love it, would love to renew our vows and get married again here... or live there even if someone wanted to give it to us, we would take it.

 Fleur de lis chandelier

Beautiful tile in the sun room in the dappled sunlight

Stain, not inlay - amazing!

Herringbone brick, so nice!

A decorators interpretation on the ceiling of a round room.

Back window from the landing on the main staircase

& from the exterior
The rear exterior of the house
 Next we went to the Reeves-Reed Arboretum which has long been on our list of NJ gardens to visit - this is after all the garden state and there are so many under appreciated small gardens.  We learned at the Salt Box Museum there was a great deal of flower growing industry in our areas.  What a gem of a location and gardening landscape architecture - lots of great picturesque vistas to really appreciate and enjoy.  There was much thought put into the placement of so many trees.
Most definitely this is Autumn, not Vulgaris, Calluna.

Normally beds of mulch are so unbecoming and unsightly but here it works wonders with the roses.
 Trilolate Orange Tree - thorny, fuzzy and so pretty!

Same log, just a little further down with different lighting exposure as the sun played behind the clouds and use of flash.  Moss is just so great.

Wonderful framed views

This table and chair set reminded me so much of climbing up to the Stone Living Room.

And we ended our day at 4pm - even though the tours were to be open until 5pm - as the Littell-Lord Farmstead in Berkeley Heights was closed up when we arrived, but oh well, very happy to still get some nice external photos.
Exit 43, Route 78 West
There's the sign-up sheet, alas, without our names as the farm is locked up.
The summer kitchen had a nice historical detail on its use.

Any one in there?

The main house.

& we wrapped up the day light with a stop to Bardy Farms in Warren for a pumpkin to put in the front garden.

What a great stem!