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Painting the Nursery

I am waiting for the ultimate surprise. In t-minus 9 weeks, the gender of Baby T will be revealed! Strangely, a lot of prep work seems to be contingent on old, traditional norms. Pottery Barn, OshKosh B’gosh, Carter’s, Old Navy and other big brands are convinced that “male means blue” and “female means pink.” The birthing industrial complex kindly suggests green, yellow and grey as unisex hues. Onesies, house paint, socks, and animal-themed toys (lions are on “boy teethers” / birds are on “girl swaddlers”) are all codependent on antiquated tropes. Some of the clothes even seem overtly sexist, “Mommy’s littler helper” and “Daddy’s princess.” Sigh.

That said, a few brands get the aesthetically pleasing, gender-neutral baby fashion (and lifestyle) items right without all of the saccharine, cutesie details: Boden, Giggle, Sprout, Tea CollectionBurt’s Bees Baby, KicKee Pants, SkipHop, René Rofé Baby, and hundreds of independent brands found online and via Etsy.

Now that my nesting instinct has kicked in at (just shy of) 32 weeks, my personal struggle with the “gender wars” came this past weekend. In my desire to check errands off of my (never-ending) list, calm anxieties, or feel superficially prepared for the whirlwind of a newborn, I decided this Saturday was the time to paint. Four of my wonderful friends obliged and were paid in delicious Greek food and major gratitude.

Headed to Lowe’s Home Improvement with nothing but a few dream photographs from Pinterest, I had little idea of what color to choose. Originally, I had wanted a minimal and Scandinavian white. But, my friend Sonja said such a dull color was “unnecessarily punishing the baby with bland” and also, not indicative of the excitement, joy and magical exuberance of a child. Tall order.

Hours later, we chose Valspar’s Mint Hint. I’m told it pairs well with Apple Slice, Lime Sherbet, and Pearly Violet. Considered a blue undertoned neutral, it easily complements grey, wood, and pastel. Step one of our unisex mint nursery is now complete!

Now on to modern yet infant appropriate decor.

A Modern, Gender Neutral Mint Colored Nursery

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P.S. Yours truly, neurotic mom-to-be, promises the room was HIGHLY ventilated – windows and doors were open.
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My Week in Snapshots: 4/16/2012 – 4/22/2012

My gosh, golly gee, what a week I have had. In this past week my new nephew Zachary Fionn was born, AND I accepted a job offer in a new position here in NYC. I feel like I should clink a million glasses of champagne and do a little twirl. I also managed to find the PERFECT pair of jeans – slim through the ankle, single roll cuff, vintage medium wash. They are so functional, and versatile; a good pair of jeans is like a best friend or an LBD, always there. My apologies on not updating the blog sooner, I usually try to post daily (or at least every two days), but SO much has been happening. Here are a few photos taken straight from my iPhone so that you can see the east coast through mine own eyes.

1. My boyfriend and I decided to re-stock our liquor cabinet (which is actually an old, beveled icebox) in order to prepare for guests which we will be entertaining next week. We mostly went to The Chelsea Wine Vault for Champagne, Scotch (Oban, Talisker, Dalwhinnie, single malts et. al.), and Sparkling Wines (Schramsberg is a new favorite) HOWEVER, while looking we spotted this Kings County Distillery Moonshine. Upon further reading, I have come to learn that this is from New York City’s oldest operating distillery that began production before Prohibition.

2. We have all held our ears to a conch shell in order to hear the sound of the ocean, yet have you ever EATEN a live conch? Aside from its symbolism in Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, the conch is actually second in popularity to escargot in the “edible snail” category. The dish is common in East Asian stir fry, soups of the West Indies, The Bahamas, Grenada, and as ceviche from Puerto Rico. This one was found at The Lobster Place.

3. A detail from artist Ajan Daeng’s “Owl in Love”. Keith Johnson, an employee of Anthropologie, who scours the world in search of unique goods for the stores chose found this artist in a forested area alongside a rural Thai road. Daeng works with discarded objects, trash, natural items, and rotted parts. This sculpture was made of wood, soda cans, and rusted metal pieces.

4. While home in South Jersey, after the birth of my sister’s new son, my mom and I were EXHAUSTED. We had stayed in the hospital for several hours and were craving something celebratory. Instead of the usual baby boy cigars or glass of wine, we ordered extremely layered and rich (see heart-clogging) pizza from Montesini’s Gourmet Pizza. Those were slices from a TACO PIZZA SLICE, a Riccota & Eggplant Slice, and a Spinach, Garlic & Tomato slices (to name a few). Om nom nom.

5. While traveling from NY Penn Station to South Jersey, I rode the surprisingly empty NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line. I have taken this same train ride about 6785 times, if only they had a “frequent traveler” punch card.

6. My mom treated me to this new bracelet that looks surprisingly intricate, high-end, and haute couture. Believe it or not, the item is from Kohl’s Simply Vera by Vera Wang Line. The Two Tone Flower Bead Bracelet is a modern shape, with glints of kelly green, and silver chain closures. It was originally $50.00 but has since been marked down to $27.50, and my mom had an additional 30% off coupon. You do the math! Thanks momma (and dad of course).

7. The Chelsea Market is a food concourse, flea market, pop-up shop, and general indoor arcade for all sorts of wonderful boutiques. It was originally a Nabisco Factory (and was actually the first place where Oreos were invented) – here is a shot of the original factory style ceilings and clock.

8. Welcome to the world Zachary Fionn! You were a heft albs 5 oz, and totally huggable with a full head of dark brunette hair. I love your little quivering lip and your puckered out chin (with a dimple). Zachary is my second nephew, he’s the little brother to Jacob!

9. Run, don’t’ walk, to your closet CVS, Rite Aid, or Duane Reade in order to get this unique nail polish color. The color is from Wet N’ Wild’s new MEGA LAST® NAIL COLOR line and is called “On a Trip”.  The bottle only cost me $1.99. I am usually a sucker for high-end nail polishes and have a sizable collection from O.P.I., Essie, and Joe Fresh (and have been CRAVING Butter London), but these new hues, and the company’s new formula feels SO expensive (and chip resistant). The color palette is also well thought out, providing me with many accent colors for the upcoming Spring and Summer trends.

10. Oh the smells of fresh lavender by the neatly tied up bundle (I’ll take a bushel please). Michael surprised me with (what we think is) a lavandula flower in Hidcote Blue to celebrate my new job offer! He has a natural skill for picking eclectic flowers I love (not the usual roses, daisies, and lilies). The buds have been in our house for several days, in a favorite vase, and are still flowering and fresh. Yay for staying power. Cagney, our kitty, is also not tempting to eat these (he has completely annihilated entire pots of bamboo, succulents, and past bouquets).

That’s my week, how was yours?

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Mother Goose

The imagery in Nursery Rhymes has always struck me as very adult, not meant for a swaddling babe. It’s easy to be swept up into the gorgeous thoughts and unique vignettes of Jack Horner’s thumb in a pie, or an Egg-shaped man cracking irrevocably. Most people use these images as fodder for pastel designs and lullaby themed nurseries. Although the naive, adorable, bubbly, child loves the idea of “isty bits spiders” and “cow’s jumping over the moon”, Nursery Rhymes tend to have a more macabre, sometimes morbid meaning (seriously Ring-Around-the-Rosies is singing about the BUBONIC PLAGUE).

Images from a Roald Dahl themed shoot with Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter, titled “Tales of the Unexpected”, Vogue UK, 2008. Shot by Tim Walker, the editorial takes its name from Dahl’ successful short story collection. Roald Dahl plays on the platitudes and repetitive themes in most Nursery Rhymes, he even creates a re-telling of the old folktale “Cinderella”, here. Whereas most fables end with a happy, or at least meaningful resolution, Dahl allows the stories to take a wicked, if not sacrilegious turn for the worst. My favorite twisted portrayal of a common Nursery Rhyme is a poem in which Dahl has the Three Little Pigs eaten, not by the wolf, but by an upper-class Red Riding Hood herself (so that she can wear a wonderful pigskin purse of course).

“Row, row, row your boat, Gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream.” – Anon, 1852. Seriously, how Nihilistic is that line?  Images from Here, Here, and Here.

Other artists who have been inspired by the oral histories of Nursery Rhymes: Lewis Carrol,  Shel Silverstein, Louis Sachar, J.K. Rowling, Tim Burton, Jim Henson (HELLO DARK CRYSTAL), Henry Darger, Salman Rushdie (Haroun and The Sea of Stories), Salvador Dali, and Joseph Cornell. Can you spot the references above to Ba Ba Black Sheep, Mother Goose, Ring-around-the-Rosies, Jack Horner, Humpty Dumpty, Bo-Peep, and Hey-Diddle-Diddle?

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