Monday, June 18, 2012

In an Aeroplane Over the Sea

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Block Island with my dad. And what a better way to visit than by airplane? Dad's a pilot and with a sizable portion of dedication, he built his own plane a few years ago. It's a shiny blue single engine propeller plane that's got tons of speed and plenty of windows for viewing stunning skylines. Some folks are a little hesitant to hop into such a small aircraft but with my father at the wheel (yoke, actually) I am absolutely at ease! Really, it's an experience like no other. Small aircrafts fly at much lower altitudes than jets do so the view can't be beat. Plus, with a trip like this, a 25 minute flight beats a two hour driving/ferry trip any day. 

It was pretty swell to see the whole island from above as we were flying in as it gave me a great sense of the layout. The coast is a mix of rocky cliffs and sandy beaches while inland is dotted with beach houses, ponds, and open fields. Talk about some lucky residents, all the buildings are very spread out so you can still have privacy even though you are live on slice of land that's only 10 square miles. The island is so small in fact that we could walk from the airport to town in a few minutes. We thought about renting bikes but ended up on one of the hiking trails that cut through the center of the island. The path was lined with honeysuckle bushes and wild roses, oh and did I mention that there was not another soul in site? What a great way to spend father's day weekend!

On the way home we flew over my family's vacation spot, Westport, which I have mentioned here and here. After coming here all my life, it was pretty mind blowing to see the area from the air. I never realized how wide the river really is and how much green space has been preserved. In the second photo, the river and the farm fields sandwich our property which is hidden in the trees.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This Old House, Part Deux

Remember that grand old building I live in? Through the ups and downs, it's been a great ride but the house is now sold and Very Vanilla will be moving on soon! Goodbye dust bunnies and drafty windows, hello "real" apartment with a full size kitchen and closets (fingers crossed). In efforts to capture all my favorite features, I have been snapping photos of this here homestead since last fall. I certainly will miss living under such tall, majestic trees. The two story high columns are not bad either!

When I say "old," I should say "ancient." Certain areas of the interior were never refinished and have almost literally stood still in time. Many vestiges of the old school remain, including the bowling alley! What school would be complete without one of those? I love the wooden pins and paint whose sea foam hue is barely hanging on.

Most certainly my favorite feature is the Secret Garden-esque trellis which has held wisteria vines for over 100 years.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Perfect Squares

Tiles have been on my mind the past few months. I put this set of eight in the bisque before I left for Europe and glazed them once I returned. Looking back, I realize that sandwiched between these two happenings was the multicolored rainbow of ceramic squares that I came across in Spain and Portugal. Like a ceramic canvas, they have endless possibilities! My dear mother requested some tiles for her new home which is tucked up in the New Hampshire wilderness, so I felt compelled to use a nature theme. All the impressions were made with natural materials. I was amazed to see how many nice trimmings I found even though it was winter at the time of scavenging. The borders I did with sea shells and driftwood I have collected over the years. With so much already going on, I just rubbed black slip into the impressions and finished with transparent glaze.

Now about that tile rainbow, one of the most stunning aspects of Portugal was that just about every surface is tiled! Apparently the climate is so mild that it makes sense to do this on the exterior of buildings as well. No boring brick here.

 And then there is of course, the all consuming Alhambra.  Located in Granada, Spain (which I am going to have to gush more about in a later post), the old Moorish castle is certainly on my "wonders of the world" list. As gorgeous is the ornate wall carvings and dramatic setting is, the tiling is my favorite part.

Last 3 images via: 1, 2, 3

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Homegrown Vermont

Hello, hello! Well, I am happy to report that spring is in full bloom - even in the chilliest corners of the country, a.k.a Vermont! We took a jaunt up north to see the play Jules's mother was stage managing and in addition to a healthy dose of culture, we got to enjoy all the lovely trimmings of the season. Much of the fields and forest that surrounds their family homestead was covered in big ferns which gave the scenery a jungle like quality. In typical Vermont fashion, the weather was cloudy and a tad cold but it's nothing some warm, fire grilled bread won't solve! Made down the road in the community bread oven, this brings a whole new meaning to rustic.

When Jules's mother is not helping put on the latest local play, she is making delightful Tarentaise cheese at Spring Brook Farm. Mild yet so flavorful, I can never get enough!

Over in the garden was the prettiest peony I ever did see. The one blossom had pastel peach, cream, and pink hues.

We harvested some rhubarb to make dessert. I love these huge leaves with yellow veins.
The black raspberries were on their way, they come fairly early in the season.
 Perhaps my all time favorite flower, the poppies were as cheerful as ever. That color simply cannot be beat. Don't the petals look like tissue paper?

At first glance, the hilltop looks like it has grass only but I was amazed to find furry orange moss, wild strawberries and funny, spindly dandelions.
 Here's the side of the barn and some peonies-to-be. I can't wait for more outdoor summer adventures!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Madrid, Shopping Bag in Hand

And last but not least in the Madrid wrap up, let's talk shop(ping). Just as I was unprepared for the number of pastry shops I'd encounter, the amount of clothing options were out of control. There was a wonderful selection of wears from local and national designers that were as gorgeous as they were affordable. The easy breezy aesthetic of Madrid really comes through. Yet another reason to love this city! I'd be lying if I said it was easy to be walking by said shops almost everyday while around town with my girlfriends! I have no shopper's regret however, I will love everything I bought for years to come, especially the big suede satchel I got at the first spot on my "must" list: Hakei. They sell mostly clothing but their luxurious leather bags and shoes made them stand out. I hope I don't regret not scooping up those ballet flats too!
Hands down my favorite find was Malababa. Carriers of jewelry, handbags, and accessories, everything is handcrafted in country. Just visiting one of their stores is a treat. I will be taking a page out of their book as far as home design goes as well. Can I live here please?! Following my shoe trend here, I am pretty sure that those flats are the coolest shoes I have ever seen. That's how the pair looks, with one shoe in each color spectrum. This works in a quirky by lady-like way.

eseOese wasn't too shabby either. It's J. Crew-meets-Anthropologie vibe really hit the spot, especially with summer on the horizon. 

On the extra fun fashion end of things is Kling. The location I visited even had a vintage section in back!

Ok so Zara is a Spanish brand so this one still counts even though it's all over the globe! I hadn't loved anything that came out in a long time but I am glad I revisited. Their spring and summer collections are spot on. 

The part of Zara they are still hiding from us United States folks is Zara Home. I couldn't help but share all these photos. Happiness via bright colors is real!

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