It’s no secret that I share some style loves with Diane Keaton.
We both love weathered metal, factory pendants, obviously stacks of books and magazines, Navajo rugs, vintage signs and Bauer pottery.
Her favorite fashion designer, also happens to be my favorite fashion designer.
I’ve shared a couple of her homes before, but this new one really blew my mind….so much to love here. I’m more than a little obsessed.
What did I tell ya?
Diane created a space that feels both old and new at the same time.
For the first time, she used Pinterest to create inspiration boards for the build and decor. Then chronicled the journey in her newest book The House that Pinterest Built. I’ve been addicted to Pinterest for years.
Don’t get too attached to this house though, Diane never does. If her history serves as an example, I guarantee this one will be on the market within a year and she will be on to her next house project.
And I already can’t wait to see it….
Whenever I run into old high school friends or fraternity brothers, and I tell them that I’m working for Ralph Lauren, the response is always the same,
“Of course you are.”
When I was 13 years-old my mother bought me a pale orange oxford shirt with a polo player on the left chest. I wore that shirt everywhere, and with everything. I knew that it was more than just a piece of clothing …. it was a way of life. That perfect American life I’d seen advertised between the pages of Vanity Fair magazine – Bruce Webber images of guys riding horses, and families lounging on boats or playing touch football on the overly green lawn of a Hampton’s estate. It was from that moment on, I only wanted to wear shirts with four letters on the label….
P. O. L. O.
The walls of my bedroom were plastered with Ralph Lauren ads torn from Esquire and GQ. I didn’t save my baby-sitting money for a car like my friends were doing – I never really wanted one. I spent every dollar I had in the boy’s Polo department at Bloomingdale’s on bright-colored knits. I needed twice as many because I wore them layered two at a time, both collars flipped towards the heavens.
My first cologne; Polo green. I spritzed my sheets, my school locker, my Guinea pig.
In my teens, while most of my friends were experimenting with goth and new wave styles, I was in the full throes of W.A.S.P. I didn’t wear Reebok’s, my shoe of choice was a basic white tennis shoe with Polo on the heel. Socks, if I was wearing them, had a little man on a horse on each side.
I went through fraternity RUSH in cuffed white shorts and a navy cardigan sweater with big brass buttons. I was the frat guy who wore madras ties to keggers – madras that I meticulously matched to the pink and green in the fraternity crest on my navy blazer – the navy blazer I wore with everything. I mean, is there such a thing as a “navy blazer phase”? Because I had one.
Who made my first adult suit? You guessed it – Ralph Lauren. I had to put it on lay-a-way to afford it. It was a double-breasted, navy blue pinstripe number with peak lapels. I felt like Cary Grant every time I wore it.
But my passion wasn’t limited to just clothes anymore; there was the comforter that looked like a faded map of the Sarah desert, and china that could have come from a 1940’s roadside diner, candles that smelled like the ocean, serape beach towels and paint that mimicked the texture of suede …. it never stopped. I surrounded myself with the timeless designs of everything Ralph Lauren. He was the first fashion designer to produce anything other than clothes.
Lately, I have been hoarding Polo “conversational” ties from the 90s. Those are the ones with pictures of fishermen, or race cars, or maybe just one big cowboy boot emblazoned across them; a little reminiscent of the ties gangsters in 1940s movies would wear. I scour eBay for styles I’ve never seen before, or different color ways of old favorites …. or what I like to call “back ups”. (That means it’s one I already have) Jamie rolls his eyes every time I receive a soft, pillowy envelope in the mail. He knows it’s another never-to-be-worn, used tie.
Relax. At least I’m not buying crystal meth.
Do I wear any of the 150-200 I’ve amassed? No, not really. But I’m not parting with any either.
I’m not that natty of a dresser anymore.
In my later years I go more for comfort; overly washed western shirts, mended jeans and espadrilles is pretty much how I roll. Still faithful to my favorite fashion designer though. After all, I shop in one of his stores about 60 hours a week – I’ve been working in Ralph Lauren creative services since 2004.
I do wear a tie about twice a year. (I average about one funeral and one Broadway show per.)
I’ve recently discovered the importance of having a shirt with a front pocket. I used to scoff at the old men who would shuffle into Macy’s and complain about every shirt that was sans front pocket. Now I enjoy a place to stash my readers, and notes I’ve jotted down and medication that I have to wait and take with food. As I sit on an airplane writing these very words I’m wearing a shirt with TWO front pockets. One holds my phone and the other; my glasses, a wad of napkins, and the Visa card I intend to “quick draw” and pay for my bloody Mary. (The wad of napkins is for dabbing the tomato juice out of my mustache)
I’m on a flight returning from New York City ….. with a carefully rolled tie in my carry on.
No, I wasn’t attending a musical, or even a funeral.
That 13-year-old boy that I once was would never believe where I’ve been ….. at the Ralph Lauren 50th anniversary fashion show.
I opened my email Thursday afternoon and saw this…
The models – a few I recognized as friends and family of other employees, even Pierce Brosnan’s son, Paris – well over 100 at this point, gathered on the steps. As the last notes of Neil Diamond’s America was playing the crowd parted and Mr. Ralph Lauren made his way down to the front.
There he was.
The man whose name was printed along the waistband of my underwear.
I lost it and cried some more.
I never imagined that I would get this opportunity one day……
Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move across the sheets.
A tiny brown speck a little larger than a sesame seed. But a sesame seed on a mission – a mission to crawl across my bed.
It was in my bed and it was a bug
Bed + Bug = BED BUG
I scooped it into a nearby water-glass and immediately started ripping apart our master bed.
If you’ve even seen our bed, you know that there are a lot of layers. Comforter; immediately into the washing machine on EXTRA hot. Down duvet; TRASH. Sheets and pillowcases; pile on the garage floor and into the washer immediately after the comforter. (Always separate your colors, even in times of infestation) Limited Edition Pendleton blanket (that everyone offers to buy); Zip-Loc bagged and into the freezer for now, dry cleaners the very next morning. Feather bed; TRASH. Heating pad; TRASH. Pillow inserts; TRASH.
What happened next was an atomic level of vacuuming. And trust me, I know how to obsess with a vacuum cleaner. I vacuumed that mattress like I was Christina and Joan Crawford was standing behind me with 2 wire hangers in her hand. Didn’t really matter, because I was dragging it to the street anyway; as soon as I was satisfied…that Joan herself would be satisfied. My mind was already racing about buying that new mattress/box spring combo, and I might as well order a new sisal rug from Pottery Barn too, because the current rug was also going to the street.
I know enough about bed bugs to look in all the mattress crevices. That’s where they hide…AND lay eggs. (Insert shudder here) Our mattress and box spring are actually covered in a tiny blue polka dot pattern that is absolutely maddening when one is searching for insects that are the size of…well, tiny blue polka dots.
Still, even with a magnifying glass and a flashlight, I wasn’t finding any creepy crawlies.
I dragged the mattress off the box spring and resumed with the vacuum. Still nothing. Until I lifted up the box spring and looked underneath. 2 more little brownish/yellow bugs moving slowly across the black lining. I flicked each of them into the glass with the first intruder.
The first bug was overjoyed (I’m assuming) with the companionship and immediately climbed on top of the bug closest to him for a humping session. Great…I was his “wingman”.
True story; for a brief moment in grade school I wanted to be an entomologist – although I’m pretty sure that I called it a “Bug Scientist” at the time. I was always bringing home crickets, praying mantis, monarch caterpillars, water striders, black widows, big red harvester ants, cicadas and anything else with six or more legs that I could coerce into a Miracle Whip jar with air holes poked into the lid. I’m still fascinated by insects. Just ask Jamie. I talk to the honey bees and garden spiders in our yard every time I see them and last summer I thought I had a pretty good relationship going with the praying mantis that lived on our back deck. I’ve held off hiring an exterminator just so I can keep these little interactions. Sure, about once a month I might see a palmetto bug scurry across the kitchen floor (they sneak under the garage door and eat Harley’s dog food) but that’s the price I was willing pay just to keep a one-sided relationship with a feral praying mantis.
But not anymore – I draw the line at being something’s dinner while I sleep – these buggers were going down.
I called Orkin then next morning.
But something about the bugs I was finding in our room didn’t seem right. They were beautiful; richly colored and almost velvet-like. Not the blood-engorged monsters that kept popping up with Google and Bing.
So I tried searching under “Bugs That Resemble Bed Bugs”.
And there they were, carpet beetles. Makes sense because they looked just like Persian rugs. (I know you can’t tell in this picture, so you’ll just have to believe me)
Not bloodsuckers, but still invasive. They eat mohair teddy bears, Pendleton blankets and cashmere sweaters. All favorite things of mine.
So that you, gentle readers, may learn from the wisdom of our experience, here’s a few of the common household invaders that might be mistaken for bed bugs;
Fingers crossed that none of you will ever have to deal with that kind of stress.
The Orkin man arrived, 3.5 hours after our scheduled appointment, the next day and confirmed my conclusion.
NOT bed bugs. WHEW. Huge Relief.
Actually, he said they were tobacco beetles, but he was clearly wrong.
They were carpet beetles.
Trust me, I was going to be a entomologist when I was 9.
There are lots of projects that have been on hold for the past 8 years.
Crown molding is one of them.
I’m a good (some may argue “Great”) painter, but even I can’t fix paint lines like this…
Don’t see it? Here, let me get a little closer….
I know. How have we managed this long?
There’s always been a plan to add some sort of crown molding to most of our rooms, but we’re not “formal” guys. And crown molding seems so, well….. you know, formal.
Here’s my solution.
3 flat boards, already primed BTW; 1 – 1″X4″ and 2 – 1″X2″
applied like so….
(Of course, 4 inches is really 3 1/2″ and 2 inches is really 1 3/4″ because wood shrinks after it’s cut. I don’t understand it either because all they have to do is cut the wood slightly larger so it shrinks to the appropriate size, but that seems to be too clever for the lumber industry and none of this seems to bother straight guys, so this is what I’m dealing with.)
Back on subject: I measured all the walls in our decent sized master bedroom….
…and after a quick trip to the Home Depot, I started trimming the edge of the ceiling in the master bedroom with the 1″X4″s.
Then I layered the smaller boards on top.
I spackled the holes, used white bathroom caulk on all the seams, and painted it the same glossy white as all the rest of the trim in the house.
‘Till it looked like this……
Soooooooooo much better,
Am I right?
Now on to do the rest of the casa….
If you’re a true fan of this blog, you’ll remember our dear friends the Pecks.
Kylie and I worked at Macy’s together about 30 years ago. She met Gert at the hotel they both worked at and the two of them were married on Maui, in a rain forest, on a bridge, over a koi pond. Ahhhhh…… Jamie and I were there for the wedding ceremony, and through an odd turn of events…..we
shared infiltrated their entire honeymoon too.
Didn’t mean too….. but we did.
We’ve shared many adventures/vacations since then, but it’s been a running joke that we would tag along on their 10 year anniversary trip as well. It’s been 10 years, and they’ve added 2 kids to their tribe (Madeleine-5, and Henrik-2), so the 6 of us hopped on an American Airlines flight to beautiful Costa Rica for a week.
Here are some of the highlights of that trip…
Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano is honestly just slightly older than I am.
In 1968 the La Fortuna area countryside suddenly erupted and the Arenal Volcano pushed her way to the surface. It wasn’t long after that the local women washing their clothes in the natural springs noticed the water was much warmer than it used to be; hovering around 100 degree to be precise. We spent a few days just outside of La Fortuna at the Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa where they have learned to capitalize on the natural hot springs anomaly.
I can honestly say that I’ve never stayed at a more beautiful tropical property. The warm soaking springs running throughout are surrounded with lush tropical plants, iguana, hummingbirds, and some of the biggest insects I’ve ever encountered.
It was pure heaven,
Our fist excursion took us to the Arenal Hanging Bridges of Mistico Park, a private nature reserve. There’s more that 2 miles of wilderness hiking trails with 6 suspension bridges hanging over the dense rainforest. The highest, the Waterfall Bridge, is over 300 feet above the forest floor…..and the Catarata Morpho Azul (Blue Morpho Waterfall), naturally.
With over 300 species of exotic birds, 700 species of fauna, and a smattering of central American animals, like the coatimundi ……there was plenty to keep us all entertiained. Except Henri, who fell asleep in his sherpa pack.
Madeleine brought her magnifying glass, which came in handy when we crossed paths with leaf-cutter ants.
While the Pecks enjoys some family time, Jamie and I took a morning trip to the La Fortuna Waterfall. Because it was off-season, we were the only ones in our tour group…and for a little while, the only ones at the waterfall. (except for a dirty hippie couple, but we’re not counting them).
It’s 500 steps to the bottom of the valley, along a pretty steep cliff. We took 10 minutes to descend; and 30 minutes to ascend….with amply resting time, of course. No one ever said it, but I know the people passing us on their way down were thinking “Los Americanos Delicatos”.
My pictures don’t do it justice…it was so beautiful. See the rainbow over my head? We swam a little in the frigid water before taking our sweet-ass time climbing the 500 steps back to the parking lot in flip-flops. Because of our slow accension, our tour guide, Daveed, was able to spot a deadly eyelash viper just hanging out in a tree about 20 feet from our path. You’re welcome.
He’s called an “eyelash” viper because of the protruding scales over his eyes that resemble eyelashes. They aren’t aggressive snakes, but have been known to strike humans in the neck if they feel threatened. *Interesting fact: of the 23 deadly snakes in Costa Rica, only 22 have antivenoms available. Luckily, we didn’t need any, but we did start looking for snakes at head level.…and not just around our feet.
After a few days in La Fortuna we headed west and took a 3 hour drive to the Westin Resort at Playa Conchal near Tamarindo.
Another day, another waterfall. Took some time to stop at the Catarata Llanos del Cortes (Cortes Plains Waterfall). It was a nice break from the 3 hour drive to take a dip in the cool green/brown water for a little while.
Playa Conchal was so beautiful. I assumed from the name that it would be covered in sea shells…and it was. Sort of. Unfortunately, the sand is composed entirely of smashed shells. Hence the name; Playa Conchal (Sea Shell Beach).
On friday, we took an early morning trip to the Palo Verde National Park and had a short boat ride on the Rio Tempisque. After about an hour of the “Costa Rican Massage” (That’s traveling down dirt roads with no shocks) we arrived at the muddy river and a few small passenger boats where we were given a private tour. We saw Capuchin and Howler monkeys, long-nosed bats clinging to a tree trunk, several exotic birds and most importantly, American crocodiles.
Because there was no “boat safety briefing”, we lightly joked with the kids to be sure and keep their hands inside the boat. When our captain dangled a raw chicken leg off the side…. it became all too clear that there was no joke involved. CROCODILES CAN FRIGGIN’ JUMP!
Just look at this 6 foot monster, AND he was one of the smaller ones. I’m not kidding when I tell y’all that all 6 of us screamed when that thing sprung about 4 feet out of the water and up the side of the boat.
Maybe we should spend the rest of our time relaxing at the resort…….and relax we did. Pool time and beach time were only interupted by meals and adult beverages.
Before we left, Maddie and I checked off her map of all the Costa Rican wildlife we’d seen in person.
We saw a LOT of exotic animals, insects and birds; Coatimundi, giant moths, so many iguana, hummingbirds (even one on a nest), verigated squirels, racoons, bats, capuchin and howler monkeys, harlequin beetles, sloths, a few unexpected snakes, caiman, frogs of all sizes, butterflies for days, and of course…crocodiles.
It was such a treat to travel with these kids and see everything through their small eyes.
The last vacation we all took together, to Seaside Florida 4 years ago, Maddie was just a baby and I don’t think she enjoyed the trip very much. I told her that when I was her age the most exotic vacation I ever took was to my grandparent’s house in Ohio, and the Toledo Zoo.
She thought I was kidding.
She’s been to the Louvre.
Happy 10 year anniversary Pecks.
Where are we going for the 20th?
We’ve each been to Vegas a few times. Mostly for work, but sometimes just to “get away”. This past weekend was a little of both.
Rarely do either of us leave the confines of Las Vegas Blvd. With so much to see and do there, why would we?
Well, we found a good reason…..The Neon Museum.
Just a little north of downtown Las Vegas and Fremont St., about a $20 cab ride (including the “Vegas Standard” $3 fee for using a credit card), is where dismantled neon signage goes to live a second life.
The lobby of the Neon Museum is the beautifully restored 1961 lobby of the La Concha Motel.
I think y’all will agree that this building was well worth preserving. It was actually cut into 6 sections just to move it to this location. It’s a brilliant start to the 2 acres of donated casino/restaurant/bar signage. Our tour guide, Jezelle, was an absolute encyclopedia of knowledge about each and every sign and letter in the collection; the marque designers, the record breakers, the excentric casino owners, the hidden meaning behind each font, and the impact each sign had on the history of Las Vegas.
When it was erected in 1968, the Stardust Casino sign was the tallest in the world; reaching 188 feet. With its “atomic age” font, this beauty’s still a standout of the collection….and one of our favorites too.
This 15 foot pool player was once wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but was later upgraded to a red plaid flannel….a few decades in the Vegas sun later, he looks like he’s wearing a little of both.
Our pictures don’t even come close to showing the scale of some of these rusty giants. This Jackpot Motel sign was one of the smaller ones. (and would fit nicely in our backyard)
It’s in this Museum that these now-defunct casinos – the Sahara, Aladdin, Flamingo, Stardust, Golden Nugget, Horseshoe, Sassy Sally’s, Riviera, Moulin Rouge and the Tropicana – and the art of their neon/electric signage that made each a unique addition to the Vegas skyline, will never be forgotten.
Do yourself a favor the next time you’re in Vegas, step away from the tourists for a few hours and go see these gems.