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Childhood

A girl and her glasses

How many of you had horrible, embarrassing glasses growing up? Oh, I SO did. I got to thinking about my years with glasses recently, after the kind folks at Lookmatic offered to hook me up with a new pair of specs. It couldn’t have come at a better time, since my previous pair were scratched beyond belief and about two prescriptions out of date (rendering them only wearable in the house).

Can I just put this out there and say that I’m so glad that glasses became a vogue, chic thing to have as of a few years ago? I definitely never felt that way when I was a kid. I first had to get glasses when I was 9, in the third grade. My prescription, as it’s been ever since, was pretty ludicrous, and my glasses at the time even more so. Side note: this isn’t something to brag about, but I will anyway: in nearly 20 years with corrective eyewear of some sort, I have only ever found one person who had a prescription worse than mine. I can’t believe I’m sharing this today, but here is a picture of me in my first pair of glasses. This was probably taken circa 1993. Read more »

To grandmother’s house we go

Growing up, I didn’t really give much thought to the antiques and furnishings in my grandmother’s house. They were always just there, things that were as much a part of her as her favorite perfume and shade of lipstick. As I’ve gotten older though, I can definitely look at her home in a different way, and appreciate how well curated it is. She has a few collections that I think are really unique and interesting, as well as some items of furniture that I completely covet, so I thought I’d share a few with you here today:

I mean, the woman has a leopard print velvet love seat in her home office. It’s the perfect place to lounge — whether you’re human or feline. She also has a growing collection of mixed metal figurines, spread throughout the house. I especially liked the movement in this one.

One collection she’s had for as long as I can remember is two huge glass cabinets filled with antique syrup pitchers. There are 245 total! The pitchers are mostly American and largely from the Victorian era. Her oldest is an 1867 Lincoln syrup pitcher, produced after Lincoln’s assassination, in his memory. She bought it for $9 in a North Carolina antique store. The proprietors had no idea what it was! There’s also a pitcher from Balmoral castle, the current Queen of England’s favorite country jaunt; it’s quite old — she guesses from the late 1800s.

A favorite pastime at my grandmother’s house is go through her huge collection of costume jewelry and accessories. My great grandmother was really (REALLY) into it, and my grandmother inherited all of it. This past trip, my grandmother showed me several pieces that belonged to her grandmother, from the 1910s and 1920s. So awesome!

This little vase is something she bought in Nice, France. It sits on a table with another metal figurine and a pretty wood box. My grandmother said that one day it’ll eventually be given to me. Her dining room has a big wood buffet, with a gallery wall above.

When I asked my grandmother what her favorite item or collection in the house was, I was very surprised to learn it was this collection of watercolor paintings purchased years ago. They’re by a Mississippi painter named Emmett Timmes, who I couldn’t find anything about online. Obviously, she made the gallery wall cool before it was cool.

One of the craziest items in her house is a ‘Christmas tree’ that is actually made out of tiers of these hanging glass pieces. It’s probably 8 or 9 feet tall, and it can light up. As a little girl, I always thought it was extra special that her house had two¬†Christmas trees around the holidays — her glass one, and the regular pine version.

My grandmother has had these gold silk French chairs forever. They’ve seen a little wear and tear in the last few years, when she adopted a couple cats who unfortunately loved to scratch them. However, she told me on this trip that she is going to give them to me someday soon. You can imagine my excitement — the possibilities for fabric options are endless!!

This is just a small sneak peek into the many wonderful items in her home. Though she’s definitely a traditional gal, I can still appreciate her eye for style (and a good deal too!). What about you? Are there any items in your parents home or your grandparents home that you think are particularly memorable?

A piece to watch

Last weekend in Houston, I ended my stay by hanging out with my grandmother on Sunday afternoon and looking through her very large collection of antique jewelry. Her mother, my great-grandmother, was a huge lover of costume jewelry (many of the items in her collection are straight out of Mad Men), and she was known in her community for throwing fabulous parties with fantastic earrings to match. While not as eccentric, my grandmother also has quite an interesting collection of her own, and from the time I was a young girl through now, I have loved listening to her stories of how and when and where she acquired her pieces.

Aside: Once, when I was around 5 years old, my mother and father took me to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the theatre. The movie got to that scene with the dwarves working in the mine, gems sparkling and shining all around them.

“LOOK!” I screamed into the theatre, sitting straight up in my seat and waving a pointed finger at the screen wildly. “Diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires!”

The family in front of us turned around and stared.

“Victoria,” my mother said, trying to shush me (she hated any kind of unwanted public attention), “Where did you learn that?”

“GRANDMA TAUGHT ME!” I shouted proudly.

My parents came home and called her immediately, with questions. It wasn’t the last time, either.

Anyway, every now and again over the years when I look through her collection, my grandmother will throw me a bone and gift me with a piece to take home and treasure. This past visit was no exception. Read more »