Shopping in India and the nature of flirting

The peacock is the national bird of India.

That makes sense. India, like the bird, is colorful and demonstrative, flamboyant and proud.

I learned this today from Farhat Jan, who sold me a lovely ceramic bowl with an inlaid peacock motif. He works at Cottage Industries Exposition in Mysore, which is a great place to buy textiles and other handicrafts.

The quality and selection are very nice, there is no pressure to buy, and Farhat and jeweler Tariq have excellent taste. They will also totally flatter and spoil a lady, bringing her as many cups of chai tea and engaging in as many odd conversations as she pleases.

During my two hours or so in his store, Farhat and I discussed everything from yoga and American running clothes to my daughter’s fascination with the Hindu god Ganesha (the “Elephant God”).

Tariq and I, meanwhile, spoke of American women’s propensity to overthink relationships.

“Do I want to be with him? Do I love him? Do I want to marry him? In India, it’s the other way around,” he said.

I found myself flirting.

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Is this an art project, or a history assignment?

Four months ago, this old farmhouse window was stacked with several others in the back room of an antique mall on 8th Avenue in Nashville. As of Palm Sunday, it’s been redeemed.

I love this window-turned-junk-turned-photo-art-thing because it’s layered in stories. Here are some, most of them true.

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Prettying and personalizing a modern home with antiques

My house: Lately I have found myself with extra space and a desire to make it feel like me. And not just me, per say, but what has formed me – my family, my community. In an effort to fill these domestic spaces – and fill them meaningfully – I’ve spent a quite a bit of time meandering antique malls around Nashville and Franklin. Sometimes I’m alone, sometimes with friends. Sometimes I have a plan, sometimes not. Sometimes I scour my own closets and drawers, finding things I didn’t know or didn’t remember I had, and these, too, become great finds. Art recovered or repurposed. Some of my recent favorites:

This Eastlake sofa is from circa 1880 but has been relatively recently reupholstered in a bright gold that looks beautiful in my green and cream bedroom. It was one of a handful of antiques in a small downtown Franklin shop that sells primarily gifts and modern home accessories. The store owner told me the sofa had been on display for years, too fancy and unusual to muster serious attention from any practical buyers.

I bought it right away.

The images above it are from my mother’s family: formal portraits of her great aunts and uncles as babies, nurses, soldiers and parents. The frames are a variety of colors and sizes not intended for this grouping, but somehow it works out better that way. When the portraits didn’t fit the frames, I cobbled together matting from the portrait studios’ original paper sleeves.

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Smile and the world smiles with you

What’s he thinking? Will he major in Engineering or Business? (He will DEFINITELY go to Auburn.) Did his parents make him wear that bow tie or did he dress himself that day?

I’m guessing my dad is about 6 in this photo, which would date it around 1955. Where did families go for portraits in Birmingham in those days? Now we snap them anywhere – photos, video; with any device – phones, cameras, our desktop computers; and post them all over the place. We can even stream them in real time if we want.

What hasn’t changed: You shouldn’t just smile (curl your lip, arch an eyebrow) for the camera. You should smile for all the times you think no one notices. Continue reading

How to make a window photo frame

It takes a while, but its worth it.

1. Buy a window. I got this one at an antique mall in Nashville for $30.

2. Remove the old window panes. If they are in good condition, save them. My window was so old that most of the panes shattered when I tried to take them out. (They had been painted to the wood and when I removed the paint, they broke.)

3. Strip the wood of old paint, if you wish. Or leave it.

4. Sand it down so it’s splinter-proof and you don’t mind it hanging inside your home.

5. Paint over the sanded wood with a sealant. I chose a clear sealant, but you may prefer a stain or paint.

6. Buy glass to fit each pane. Lowe’s and Home Depot will custom-cut glass to fit. (It’s very inexpensive, thank goodness.)_

7. BEFORE you install the glass in the window, mount the photos to the glass as you wish. To mount photos:

8. Clean the glass with a glass cleaner like Windex.

9. Condition it with an agent designed for glass crafts. I used Delta Surface Conditioner. I honestly don’t know if this was necessary, but at this point I wasn’t taking any more chances.

10. Adhere the backs of the photographs to glass with an adhesive designed for slick surfaces. I used Aileen’s Glass and Bead adhesive.

11. Use a foam roller brush to apply glaze over the whole surface – on top of the photographs – sealing them to the glass and creating a smooth, uniform (ish) surface. I used Delta Clear Gloss Glaze. They also make an opaque, but I wanted to see my photos through the glaze.

12. Mount the glass inside the window. I secured mine using finishing nails I hammered in VERY GENTLY behind each glass pane.

13.  Screw hardware to the back of the whole thing. I used eye-hook picture hangers heavy enough to support 100 pounds, because that’s about how heavy this thing feels. I used two: one on each end, and hung from picture hooks I measured before nailing to my wall.

14. Get someone to help you hang it up. I asked my 9-year-old daughter, and that was all I needed. I didn’t want to wait another second.