Tag Archives: the home tome

from the new new newness department

first day

We are glad to welcome Ian Fletcher Strati as the newest addition here at the home tome headquarters.  He “started” December 28 at 3:02 AM and has been heading up the Cute Department for two weeks now. Though he is new to the position, he is proving to be quite talented. Above, you can see him on his first day on the job. He was already good at holding hands.

We are pleased to see that he is already a fan of mushrooms. (Thank you Josie.):

Ian and mushrooms

He looks dashing in formalwear. (Thank you Sarah Z.):

Ian in Tuxedo

And he does a great imitation of a burrito. (Thank you Stefanie for the swaddling tutorials and blankets.):

IMG_2317

Sometimes he does sleep on the job, (thankfully!) and proves that real men really can rock polka dots. (Thank you Cousin Annette for the moses basket).

Ian in Moses basket

His hands are extremely small, yet busy, and he requires regular manicures so that he does not self-destruct (i.e. scratch his face.) (Thank you, Dara, for your delicate expertise.):

IMG_2382

Mostly, he is serving as a serious distraction to the other home tome employees. It’s admittedly difficult to blog, eat, sleep, pay bills, exercise or perform many formerly regular duties when we can now, instead,  just gaze at this:

Ian asleep

Stay tuned for notes on the the nursery…we have had WAY too much fun setting that up.

vintage: candle holder from hanova of pasadena

Hanova of Pasadena Enamelware candle holder

This funky candle holder was purchased by my mother somewhere in Wisconsin (probably in Madison) sometime in the early to mid-70′s. I remember it hanging on our back deck.

Our deck was a magical place: it ran the length of our house and overlooked a large backyard, complete with a rock garden, a tree swing, a crabapple tree, tons of tulips, perfect peonies populated by ants, and small vegetable garden where lettuce thrived and rhubarb stood sentry. All of this was perfectly maintained by my parents. Our backyard abutted The Woods, in comparison a wild and scary place, where there were raspberry thickets, several trails, and weird “hippies” wandering out of them at strange times. The fact that The Woods contained bears is either 100 percent true or 100 percent false: maybe there had been sightings or maybe this was just a way to keep me, my brother, and our friends from going down into them too far, un-attended.

The point is that our house was a modest ranch from the front, but in the back it was kind of an unexpected wonderland. Our deck presided over all of it. I could pretend the deck was a stage and the trees of The Woods were my audience; they were always quick to give a standing ovation. I could recline on the lounge chairs to sunbathe with my mother, like her, balancing those teeny-tiny sunglasses over my eyes. I could wave down to my father as he made short work of the grass on his riding mower. Before my parents divorced, we ate out on the deck most nights of the summer: steak my father had grilled, and salad my mother composed from that day’s garden pickin’s.

Hanova of Pasadena close up

Throughout it all, this blue candle holder hung from an over-hang located above a huge rectangular bin my mother jokingly called “the coffin.” This was built with wood by my father and held all the patio furniture and cushions during the winter months. In the summer, the coffin’s white smooth surface double-timed as a perfect serving area for hors d’oeuvres when my parents were entertaining.

The candle holder was one of many unique items with which my parents decorated our home. I didn’t give it much thought…until I saw it again as an adult. In an attempt to clear out her basement last year, my mother offered it to me along with several other items. It took it gladly and with reverence. And gradually, I have fallen in love with it, both for its sculptural quality and for the little slice of our family’s past that it represents.

Hanova of Pasadena

The foil sticker, though somewhat compromised by age, led me to an internet search. This is apparently enamelware made of steel produced mostly in the 60′s and 70′s: the splotchy or bubbly glaze is typical of Hanova of Pasadena, which also produced planters, bowls, plates, etc. You can see a lot of different styles and colors of this great enamelware here. It hasn’t been easy to find out too much about the company: except, in response to a post on the wonderful A La Modern website, someone wrote in saying that Hanova was her father’s company and that it was a hobby of his in retirement.

That’s about all I know. I love that it’s made in the USA. I love that it’s blue (my mother’s favorite color) and love how it looks in our 1965 home. We have it above our fireplace (though we tried it out in several other locations until deciding on this one).

Hanova of Pasedena Enamel Candle Holder above fireplace

Do you happen to have any Hanova? Do you know anything else about it?

This post kicks off a new “vintage” section here at the home tome (see categories in the header above). In the coming months, I am going to feature some of our favorite finds from yesteryear.

two year house-iversary

flag lantern

Two years ago today, July 3, 2010, we moved into our house. So the Fourth of July was our first full day here. That night, we sat on our front porch watching fireflies flash on the yard, and fireworks flash above the trees in the distance. I sipped some red wine and Rob smoked a celebratory cigar: we were exhausted, sore from moving all those boxes, and probably a little shell-shocked. Mostly, we were happy. We had landed. And whatever that meant, we now knew this is where we’d be for a very long time.

The fact that it was Independence Day had a lot of meaning to me – were we now free, I wondered? We were certainly free of landlords and wondering where the heck we were going to move/live/set up shop. But in another sense, I wondered if we were the opposite of free. Sure, buying a house is touted as The American Dream, but there’s no doubt that mortgages are a trap, and owning is a ginormous, long-term responsibility. It wasn’t easy for us to buy a house, financially or psychologically, and we debated buying vs. renting for a long time before we took the plunge. For that year of indecision,  it was like we were playing ping pong…blindfolded…and constantly switching sides. Needless to say, we were terrified.

And, yet, we still went for it. This, we knew, was the perfect house for us from the second we spied the photos online. I had chills by the time we had stepped 10 feet into the house. I think if we could have rented it, we might have, but that wasn’t an option, and it was time for us to leave the South Bronx.

Two years later, I don’t regret the decision one iota. There have been bumps, there have been unexpected expenses (such as the recent Plumbingate), there has been a lot of work. But it has been extremely gratifying, and every time I pull into the driveway I feel a level of contentedness I could never have predicted. Rob and I did it: we weren’t sure if we should, but we have gotten through it together and had a lot of fun along the way.

On this note, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite songs, from Feist. It’s called “Mushaboom.” (I don’t have any idea what that means, but it does have a pleasing resemblance to the word mushroom, yes?) It’s a sweet song about wanting to have a house, making a home, and “collecting moments one by one.” It came out in 2004 -  I listened to it A LOT during my single daze, long before I met Rob, long before we got married, and ended up here. The lyrics nicely represent my own longing for the future. Now, I can’t listen to this song without welling-up. Though I didn’t think it would happen and I didn’t know how it would happen, it turns out I have exactly what I want, and more.

Here is the song and the lyrics follow. Enjoy:

“Mushaboom”

Helping the kids out of their coats
But wait the babies haven’t been born
Unpacking the bags and setting up
And planting lilacs and buttercups

But in the meantime I’ve got it hard
Second floor living without a yard
It may be years until the day
My dreams will match up with my pay

Old dirt road
Knee deep snow
Watching the fire as we grow old

I got a man to stick it out
And make a home from a rented house
And we’ll collect the moments one by one
I guess that’s how the future’s done

How many acres how much light
Tucked in the woods and out of sight
Talk to the neighbours and tip my cap
On a little road barely on the map

Old dirt road
Knee deep snow
Watching the fire as we grow old
Old dirt road
Rambling rose
Watching the fire as we grow, well, I’m sold

***

How about you: Do you think buying a house is terrifying?

More Home Improvement Month Festivities after the holiday…

how to celebrate your blog-iversary

birthday_cake_animationI am happy to announce that today is the home tome’s one year blog-iversary.

Though I first started blogging about five years ago on other topics (thank you to those of you who have been with me from the beginning), this landmark is feeling extra special. I am having a blast, bursting with ideas, and, accomplishing exactly what I set out to do: uncover the dark underbelly of home-ownership with hard-hitting journalism.

As this day has approached, I’ve been wondering, how should I celebrate this momentous occasion? Here’s what I think I (and all bloggers) should do for a blog-iversary:

Eat embarrassing amounts of cake. (Think: Carrot Cake, German Chocolate, or maybe some Oreo Cheesecake a la the nervous cook). Present this to yourself a-flame with lots of candles, and maybe even a full-on fireworks display – hey, this is a big deal. (A much bigger deal than, say, your own upcoming birthday, which you are trying to ignore/de-emphasize/cope with/forgo.) (Though of course that avoidance can’t be entirely genuine if you you’re willing to blab about it parenthetically.)

Thank your readers. After all, without them, this would be just a diary with pictures. Well, a blog (such as this one) really pretty much is a diary with pictures, no matter how you slice it, but it’s more like a diary you left open on the school lunch table, unlocked, just begging for people to read it, and they sure enough took the bait. Thanks!

Thank your commenters. They help to make your space more of a forum than a soapbox. They give your solipsism a community feel. And they actually do make the universe seem a teeny bit smaller. Give a shout-out to your most avid commenters i.e. your brother, who, as of this writing, has concocted no less than 55 pseudonyms in an effort to amuse and obfuscate. Your cat’s out of the bag, “Ge-gnome-ist”, a.k.a. “Ashton Kutchner”, a.k.a. “Grasso Orso”.

Thank your nearest and dearest. Chances are high that your spouse, partner, sister, roommate and/or best friend have demonstrated great patience in regards to your weird obsession with documenting the minutiae of your life.  They may have also provided artwork (thanks Rob, and double thanks for the fancy animated gif, above – I was was kidding when I requested that!), editing skills (thanks Rob for your typo tae kwon do), and expert cheerleading services (again, thanks Rob, you are a pompon pro).

Give ample credit to your equipment. Props to your computer, your cameras (old and new), and wordpress. You really couldn’t do any of this without them, and they have been very cooperative. (Except for those few times, when they weren’t.)

Reach an impressive number of posts and brag about it. This should ideally be a nice round number, but if you don’t quite reach your original goal, just pretend that whatever number it turns out to be was actually your goal all along. For example, THIS IS MY 100th 97th POST, woo hoo! (Really, I meant to to reach 97 posts by today…)

And finally, take a day off. Spend one entire day without checking your stats, snapping a photo for a future post, commenting on other peoples blogs, or brainstorming ideas. It’s healthy to take a break and get some distance every once in a while. Okay, never mind, scratch this last one, because we all know it’s just not going to happen!

***

In all seriousness, THANK YOU FOR READING. My writing life has had many phases and this one is incredibly gratifying.

What are you going to do for your next blog-iversary?

song of the day (week) (month) (ok, year)

Here is what I’m listening to right now. It nicely captures the vibe of The Home Tome: it’s about having fun and appreciating our loved ones.

It’s called “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. Take a listen…(you tube wouldn’t let me fully embed the video, so just click on the arrow below then click “watch on you tube” and you will be escorted to it.)

In case you don’t already know these lyrics by heart, here they are, below. The little convo in the middle is excellent. My favorite lines are underlined – imagine me singing these to Rob at the top of my lungs at The Home Tome Headquarters with a hairbrush for a microphone. (On second thought, maybe it’s better if you just imagine me lip-synching.) (Never mind on that, too – just take me out of the equation and enjoy.) (…Though, I am a pretty fierce whistler.) (Enough, already!):

Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma & Pa
Not the way that I do love you

Holy Moley, Me-oh-My, you’re the apple of my eye
Girl, I’ve never loved one like you

Man, oh man, you’re my best friend,
I scream it to the nothingness
There ain’t nothin’ that I need

Well, hot & heavy, pumpkin pie,
chocolate candy, Jesus Christ
There ain’t nothin’ please me more than you

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you (2x)

La la la la, take me Home
Baby, I’m coming Home

I’ll follow you into the park,
through the jungle, through the dark
Girl, I’ve never loved one like you

Moats & boats & waterfalls,
alley ways & pay phone calls
I’ve been everywhere with you

That’s true

We laugh until we think we’ll die,
barefoot on a summer night
Nothin’ new is sweeter than with you

And in the streets we’re running
free like it’s only you and me
Geez, you’re somethin’ to see.

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you (2x)

La la la la, take me Home Baby, I’m coming Home

“Jade?”
“Alexander?”
“Do you remember that day you fell out of my window?”
“I sure do, you came jumping out after me.”
“Well, you fell on the concrete
and nearly broke your ass
and you were bleeding all over the place
and I rushed you off to the hospital.
Do you remember that?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, there’s something
I never told you about that night.”
“What didn’t you tell me?”
“While you were sitting in the backseat
smoking a cigarette you thought
was going to be your last,
I was falling deep, deeply in love with you
and I never told you ‘til just now.”
“Now I know.”

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is whenever I’m with you
Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is when I’m alone with you

Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you

Ahh, Home
Yes, I am Home
Home is when I’m alone with you.

Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma & Pa
Moats & boats & waterfalls & pay phone calls

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you
Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is when I’m alone with you

***

What are you listening to?

how to treat your gnome right

As you may have read previously,  we are happy to have a gnome residing on our property. We adopted him in the Nyack area earlier this year. He perches on some red mushrooms at the corner of our house, tucked into a wooded area. Until recently, he did not have a proper home to call his own. But thankfully, my mother in law Sandy put an end to that. She gave us him this handsome gnome door:

gnome door at base of tree
Does that have curb appeal or what?  Now he can do his mushroom farming and then escape to the privacy of his own…tree whenever he wants.

Rob, who has become an expert at building rock patios and pathways, decided that he needed his own walkway. So, voila:

gnome with path to door

There is obviously still much landscaping to be done but, we noticed that the gnome has already planted at least one mushroom in his front yard.

mushroom near gnome

And a whole field of what appears to be lichen (?):

lichen by gnome house

Just look at how happy all of this has made him!

happy gnome portrait

Needless to say, there are more big plans in the works… Hammock? Water feature? Or, what the heck, this gnome is a hard worker and he deserves only the best – if he sends out an evite to a hot tub party, we’d all be well advised to accept.

Forget SEO: how about CBO and RMO?

Nyack Community Boards

These days, here in the blogging world, you hear a lot about Search Engine Optimization a.k.a. SEO, which is basically lots of ways of making your site more visible on Google and driving traffic (readers) your way. As far as I can tell, the goal is to “own” certain phrases and keywords so that when someone searches say, for example, “salt and pepper pigs,” your site comes up on the first page of search results. The more people who come to your site, the higher you climb in the search results, and in turn…the more people who come to your site. So it builds and builds in a cyclical fashion until you take over the internet (and eventually the world) with your clever ideas and silly photographs. Or, alternatively: you don’t.

Things are obviously going very well over here at The Home Tome. The most salient proof is the piece I wrote called, How to Decorate a White Couch. It got “freshly pressed” i.e. featured at WordPress, and traffic has been making a bee-line for the site ever since.  Go ahead, type the words “white couch” into Google and prepare yourself to be very impressed. (I do this every four minutes.) But what about all those other groundbreaking missives? 52 of them to be exact. It would be nice if those got bottle-necked with traffic, too.

Last weekend, I decided to eschew all that boring, trendy, sensible SEO stuff and replace it with a little CBO: Community Board Optimization.

Nyack Community Boards 2
The entire staff of the Home Tome gathered for breakfast and coffee at the uber-cute Lulu’s in West Nyack. Then we rolled up our sleeves, laced up our most comfortable kicks, and pounded the pavement, all in the name of blogging greatness. It only took us four hours, a detour over to Palisades Market for a sticky bun, a busted alternator belt as obvious punishment for said sticky bun, a taxi ride home, and voila, we had hung up six posters. It was a marketing blitz, I tell you.

Surely you are reading this because you saw one of them? Undoubtedly, you decided to tear off one of the helpful information tabs because one was already (um…) taken? (Of course it was me – somebody had to get that party started.) Surely these stylish posters (designed by none other than talented Home Tome Art Director Rob Strati) are not already eclipsed by the posters of other hopeful grassroots marketers? Surely people do stop and actually read these things?

Jocelyn Jane Cox tote and poster
(Check out that tote bag. Please don’t be jealous, but I will accept your sympathy – it’s not easy to be this dorky.)

Just in case these signs don’t get the word out, we have also invested part of our advertising budget in RMO: Refrigerator Magnet Optimization.

Home Tome Refrigerator Magnet 2

Surely it’s possible to take over the internet one magnet at a time? As a matter of fact, I am about to announce something really big…Here it is:

FREE Home Tome magnets to the next three subscribers!*

Subscribing is easy, free, and boatloads of fun. Guaranteed! Click over there, in the column to the right and you will receive an e-mail every time a new Home Tome post goes up. And if you act fast, we’ll send you this magnet via snail mail as a thank you. Your refrigerator will never be the same. (*Fine print: and for those new subscribers who aren’t as quick to the draw, you will receive our undying appreciation or a virtual high five, your preference.)

This magnet is large and chock full of brawn: it will hold up lots of photos, hundreds of losing lottery tickets and even your bulk trash pick-up schedule. At the very least, it will bring a little bit of “whimsy” (my mother’s favorite word) to everyone who has the good fortune of seeing it.

Home Tome Refrigerator Magnet

Thank you for reading this post (and other posts) (and that poster around town) (and of course that magnet which could be YOURS, it’s just a click away)