Her Last Dance

Frances Thomson
Frances Chapman Thomson 1924-2015

We said goodbye to our dear Meme this past Sunday. I will forever feel grateful and fortunate that I was present to share in her passing, it was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I have never been witness to someone leaving our world, a true blessing.

Surrounded and literally enveloped by her children and grandchildren, our dearest Meme went on to her next adventure this past Sunday, March 1st. She had been terribly ill trying her dammdest to recover from major surgery and was not ready to give up until that very last day. She looked me right in the eye, just the day before, recognizing me and calling me by my name, then pin-pointedly letting me know that she wasn’t able to do it. I have to love and cherish that maybe more than anything about my grandmother. She had such a fierce determination, will and spirit, she needed us to know that she tried as hard as she could and this one wasn’t going to take. If it was left to her, in strong and sound mind, there would be no contest. I don’t believe I know a soul as strong as my grandmother but at 90, her body was ready for another adventure. I truly believe that seeing us all there with her helped her come to terms with that reality so that she may move on.

The power of music however, cannot be denied. My cousins had the brilliant idea of playing her a little Frank Sinatra at her bedside, on the last day of her life as she struggled with each labored breath. The minute she heard the music, she opened her eyes for the last time, and soon began to ease into her last breaths. Always a fan of dancing to her favorite Big Band Era tunes, I think this was just what she needed. We immediately enveloped her in words of love, kisses and hugs, sending her off to her next dance. I’ll never be ready to really let go of her, she was our matriarch, our fearless leader, but I know we all take great peace and are grateful for her loving sendoff and the 90 years that she graced our world. Thank you for your love, dear grandmother. Thank you for teaching me to look at the world with an artist’s eye and thank you for showing us the importance of living life with a heart full of happiness, love, energy, excitement and a wild spirit. I love you.

Meme and Me
Meme and Me at my mother’s 60th birthday party, 2009

Frances Chapman Thomson’s Obit, as printed in the Abilene News Reporter:

Frances Thomson 1924-2015

Frances Chapman Thomson, a longtime Abilene resident, local artist and beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother passed away on Sunday March 1st. She was 90 years old.

Born on October 10, 1924 in her family’s farmhouse in Haskell, Texas to parents Hallie Elmer and Tillie Pearl Chapman, she grew up with her sister Mildred in the West Texas town. As a child, Fran, as her loved ones and friends called her, loved riding her horse Dolly the two miles everyday to and from grade school, and sang alto alongside her father in a local Gospel singing group. Frances went on to become Lead Majorette and Halloween Queen at Haskell High- where as a sophomore, she met the love of her life, Joseph Edward Thomson. She and Joe married in Duncan, Oklahoma on July 2, 1944.

Frances and Joseph traveled across the States during Joe’s service in the U.S. Navy, her favorite spots being Jacksonville Beach and Hollywood, where they loved to dance and dine at Ciro’s and The Brown Derby. After the war, they moved to Abilene where they settled to have a family and run their business. Frances later worked as the Secretary to the Principal at Cooper High School, and in her retirement years enjoyed life as an accomplished painter, traveler, avid bridge player and lover of life, family and friends.

Frances is survived by her children Craig Thomson, Cheryl Huey, Carol Davis and Charles Thomson, her grandchildren Brian, Kelly, Tracy, Ashleigh, Mandy, Ben, Brett, Colby and Paxton, and great-grandchildren Bradlee, Peysley, Taylor, Kalia, Kai, Jake, Georgina and Thomson.

 

Meme's Art Studio Desk

Meme’s art studio desk just as she left it. I wonder what she was mixing her palette for next? 

My father-in-law, Jacques d’Amboise, wrote a beautiful little poem in memoriam to her passing:

 

                                                                         Going

                                                             Life flows, Leaves fall,
                                                     And you know its time to say,
                                                               “I love all of you.
                                                                         And go. 

 

We will never really be ready to let her go and we don’t have to. She lives on in our hearts, so much to celebrate and remember. It has been one of the great honors of my life to celebrate her this past week with my dearest family. I love you all.

Cheers Meme- to a life well lived.

 

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Six Groovy Things

Just some stuff I’m liking…

Like Narwhals. Yep- let’s start with those.

6 Groovy Things

1. Narwhals- because they’re ridiculously awesome. No wonder the hipsters have claimed the Narwhal as their un-official mascot. Has anybody noticed the sudden influx of their likeness, I don’t know… everywhere? The unicorns of the sea are donning the likes of bloggy branding and Pinterest-approved marks everywhere. Please hipsters- don’t overexpose the dear Narwhal- she is a true creature of creatures, I mean how cool looking are these things. I’d like to see one in the wild one day. For now, I just check in with the WWF’s Narwhal Satellite Tracking Map. They do face manmade dangers like oil leaks, climate change and above all- noise pollution, a problem that I had no idea was such a harmful thing to sealife until recently. Check out how you can make a difference here.

2. These wabi-sabi oak cutting boards made by a dude in New York’s Hudson River Valley, namely one John Corcoran- because they’re imperfectly perfect and because he also bakes cakes, keeps bees and makes maple syrup- a modern day Renaissance man.

3. This Chenin Blanc from Xavier Weiskoppf of the Loire Valley- because it is a true treasure to behold. Funky enough to satiate a wine geek’s love of naturally made Chenin and chalky and citrusy enough to please anyone’s palate. A terrific food wine and lots of interesting things going on in this glass. (shameless plug: currently found at Waterfront Market)

4. This gold and leggy lucite table- because why not be stylish when dining TV-side? Not that I’m a big proponent of TV dinners, but let’s face it, sometimes you do have to multitask. And also, if you’re anything like me and you’re home alone with the kiddos in bed, sometimes you just want to saddle up to some good old-fashioned TCM with your piping hot bowl of carbalicious pasta- am I right? Not your momma’s tray table. Or maybe it is, if your momma was hip and could be found with a tv tray in the early 70s- Gen X’ers, I’m talkin’ to you.

5. This 1967 navy blue Volvo station wagon- because, well, because I want one. Practical, mmmm… probably not. But she’s a looker- she’s both awkward and gorgeous at the same time- my kind of gal. I’d love to cart my little brood around in this baby.

6. The current Andrew Wyeth exhibit at The National Gallery of Art- because it truly is a thing of beauty, words don’t much do it justice. If you’re in the area, just go see it. And let me know what you think.

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Renaissance Man

dad

My dad and brother Matt circa 1968

A Renaissance Man to the end, my dear Dad passed away 12 years ago this week. I can still hear his laugh, see him bust out his moves, and sense his overwhelming generosity. He was giving and kind and funny and such a character. My dad inspired my own curiosity as he was always up on the latest trends, ideas, gadgets, cars (see above with his swanky Corvette), and people and places of note. David Crandall grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and was a self-made business man, working his way up from his first job as a 12 year-old ride operator at Six Flags, to establishing his own import business with Hong Kong merchants back in the 70s, a pioneer in the industry.

He was somehow a wide-eyed old soul- an uncommon combination. Travel was his jam, part of his dna. My dad showed me the world, quite literally and made sure that travel was a major part of my makeup, so that my eyes were opened beyond the comforts and familiarity of my hometown. We went everywhere- from long and winding road trips through America’s National Parks to the grandeur of Venice’s Grand Canal. I credit my dad for my career. He took us to NYC every year as kids, where we took in countless shows and sights. It’s because of all of that theater, that I was inspired myself to become a Broadway performer, a dream which he championed every step of the way.

As kids, my parents regularly took us out of school to travel and felt strongly that seeing the world was as important an education as the one we were getting at our school desks. I thank them both for that. Dad was thrilled when I chose to study abroad in Italy my junior year of college, and for my graduation gave me an around-the-world ticket. Cue an incessant case of Wanderlust.

My Dad had a deep rooted love for the tradition and beauty of the American West as well as a hankering for spontaneous travel. I remember one morning in August of 1992 when he excitedly announced that we should promptly pack our bags as we would be leaving shortly for the airport to fly to Barcelona. We went to the Olympics on a moment’s notice with zero plans. Seriously, I live for that stuff. He managed to find us a place to stay in an impossibly booked city and tickets to the biggest events- loving every minute of the challenge. He was always so adventurous and filled with life, humor and curiosity. Dad was just as excited to stay at the Hassler in Rome as he was to bunk in a Route 66 roadside motel. The apple doesn’t far fall from the tree.

I am eternally grateful for everything my father gave me in terms of life experience but more than that, he was a man of such style and grace, smarts and wit, a true original. A trailblazer to the end, with a knack for no-nonsense advice, I miss that advice and sound judgment more than anything. He was my rock at the end of the day. I always went to my dad with the big stuff and he always knew just what to say. He was a problem solver, a loving father and a curious spirit and force in the world. He didn’t much care what people thought of him, outside of the ones he loved, and I always admired him for that. I try to channel a bit of my dad’s no-nonsense and enthusiastic approach to life every day.

David seized the day. He is forever my hero and my heart hangs heavier without him here. Miss you dad, miss you every day.

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Presenting: The Cook

Not for every cook, but definitely for the one with a nostalgic soft spot- a vintage cookbook. I love this Sunset Cookbook circa 1949.

The classic cook’s reference guide: Larousse Gastronomique. Every self-respecting cook needs a copy of this one their shelf.

For the foam loving, liquid nitrogen dreaming cooks, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking- tales and recipes from the most creative chefs on the planet.

A cute and efficient way to store your plastic wrap: ChicWrap. I totally want one of these. With the serrated edge at the top, it makes cutting those sheets so much easier and not wrestling with the flimsy box every time you need some of that wrap. Genius.

Mouth- Indie Food. I know, is there such a thing. Apparently. Whether you like the tag line or not, this company does beautiful gift sets of artisinal foodstuffs. Any foodie or cook would love a package from Mouth.

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Gimme Shelter

Domino

Let’s talk shelter. Have you heard that Domino is back? Woohoo. Michelle Adams is taking over the helm at the editor’s desk which explains her sly exit from Lonny, the online shelter mag that she founded with Patrick Cline. That’s her pictured above in her official announcement to the world via Instagram.

Domino will be published quarterly at $12/an issue which has already generated criticism from folks like Design Sponge’s Grace Bonney, who told the New York Times she wished the magazine was “more substantial” at that price tag. There could be a conflict of editorial integrity as the magazine sets its sights on e-commerce becoming an online storefront. Domino will now offer direct purchase via their website to goods by Jonathan Adler and the like, hoping to make a profit on the markup. The question remains- can Domino stay relevant and cool while trying to locate and retail high volume pieces? Hmmm. We’ll see, it’s a new world, folks. What do you say, game changer or clunker?

While we wait for the Domino site to launch (later today), I have a new favorite shelter goods site I’d like to talk about. I know, there’s one every day right? How in the world does one keep track of all the interior goodness out there? The anti-theseis to the new Domino, this one bodes one of a kind pieces direct from owner to buyer. I was led to Chairish by way of Emily Henderson’s blog. I love her styling ways and she is currently holding a garage sale of sorts via the site. Sort of an uber-edited ebay/craigslist with lower price tags- a poorer man’s 1st Dibs, I like this shop.

Chairish bodes lots of great pieces for the home- everything from stylish upholstered headboards to affordable abstract art to Bobby Short’s piano chair (seriously). Some things are still a bit pricey but you can find some deals if you hunt and peck. I found the Room and Board Architecture bed below for $650 (retails for $1499)- a deal if you live in the Bay Area. Even if you’re not in the market for a vintage dentist chair or a brass elk head, it’s still fun to look.

A few favorite finds:

Chairish

1. Pink and Black Abstract Circle Print- love the colors, love the swirliness, would love this in my abode. This one is unframed so shipping is not so bonkers.

2. Handmade Beaded Chandelier- I’m in love with this. With this hanging in my house, I could pretend I was living in Laurel Canyon circa 1974. Dig. It. (also, it’s only $380- that’s like a West Elm pendant- not a huge commitment if you’re a little commitment-phobic).

3. Bobby Short’s Piano Chair- for real folks. I would jump on this thing if I had $1600 to spare. What a piece to behold. I saw Bobby Short play at the Carlyle in the late 90s, it was an unforgettable evening. That dude had some serious swank.

4. Geometric Olive Chain Pattern Dhurrie Rug- this is unbelievable. A Turkish rug with this delicious pattern newly marked down to $285. ($39 to ship). I seriously might have to buy this one for future use- would be great underneath a dining table or in T’s room.

5. Room and Board Architecture Bed- I have always wanted this modern version of a canopy bed. This one is a good deal.

6. Chartreuse Chippendale Chair- a great office chair. I rarely see Chippendale style pieces for less than $500.

7. Vintage Red Cross Flag- no words are needed for this- it’s just plain cool.

8. Curtis Jere Vintage Sunburst Sculpture- how cool would this be over the right mantle. L.O.V.E.

9. Mies Van de Rohe inspired vintage chair- this thing would go anywhere and used to live in Emily Henderson’s house.

A few other great finds that were just added to the site:

this amazing French-designed Edison bulb lamp- how I love thee
and
this gorgeous California redwood cocktail table

Chairish

{Image: Michelle Adams via Instagram}

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Happy Weekend!

baby refrigerator

How great is this photo- I love it so much. Happy Weekend to all, I hope you have some fun stuff lined up for the weekend. We’re in NYC with family- fun times. Enjoy and Cin Cin.

A little link love:

happy weekend

Coasters and Keychains and Cacti Oh My!

1. How cute are these little butterflies via the sweet little French vintage shop, Trendy Little. Love. My Gigi would eat them at this point but maybe when she’s older.

2. Felt Confetti Coasters via one of my new favorite Etsy shops, Cotton and Flax- I love their graphic pillows too.

3. No Sleep Til Brooklyn- Mike D’s Brooklyn Brownstone that is. Pretty Phat. Everyone needs a swoonful ocean print above their bed- I’m in love with this one.

4. A sensible cacti garden- I love a succulent.  Those A Beautiful Mess girls are truly DIY Gods.

5. Old school keychains from another fun mom and pop shop find- Three Potato Four. These remind me of summer vacations and camp. I never went to camp, but I always wanted to.

6. I absolutely loved this Travel & Leisure article about a family’s trip to Italy’s Ligurian seashore- a tale full of missteps and mishaps with toddlers in tow, eventually leading to a memorable and killer vacay. That’s totally the way I roll, it made me laugh.

P.S.: Travel & Leisure’s twitter feed is totally rocking my world lately- great articles and tips, like this one for affordable Italian agriturismos and this one on how to get that last minute rezy in NYC.

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Virginia’s Vintage Nirvana

A few weekends ago, the bebes and I went to the annual Spring Market at the Old Lucketts Store. I didn’t know quite what to expect but I kind of expected lots of goodness- that’s what I got. I was in design and vintage heaven- these guys know what they’re doing. It’s like a little mini Portobello Road or Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue on a Sunday. Around every corner was a perfectly styled shot of vintage wares. I love a good market.

Vintage Virginia

Even the gravelly earth was reminiscent of a stroll through a French market. Beautiful but not so easy on the old travel stroller, you should have seen me heave-ho-ing those little guys around. It was pretty hilarious. Gravel- not exactly conducive to tiny plastic wheels.

A few objects I was really wishing I had the square footage for:

objects

And just a few more things- I love this idea below: slate placemats for outdoor dining. Genius. At $3 a pop, that’s a whole lot of design for a whole lot of nothing. Pretty coral, vintage dress forms and those colorful fishing buoys from East Coast waters made my day.

objects galore

A day at the Old Lucketts Store is worth the trip alone and the spring market bumps it up a notch, but the countryside is pretty ridiculously beautiful and alone merits a trip. A day in Leesburg with its quaint downtown surrounded by rolling hills is pretty good stuff. I loved this little produce market and their sign on the way out of town: “Your Wife Called. Bring Home Strawberries.”

produce stand

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According to Jess: Fells Point + A Momma’s Mocktail

I’m starting a new series called “According to Jess” where my Southern, sassy and opinionated (in the best way) pal, Jess Hartman shares her lifestyle and travel tips. She’s a New Orleans native who splits her time between NYC and Baltimore, where she, her hubby Jason, and soon to be little girl dwell in a cute little row house. Jess and I did our first Broadway show together, The Boy From Oz- you really bond with someone when you originate a show together, not to mention sharing a tiny dressing room on the 4th floor of the Imperial Theater- ahh, those were the days!

According to Jess

We recently met for brunch in this historic and ridiculously cute waterfront Baltimore neighborhood and I fell in love with Fells. Fells Point- According to Jess:

Fells Point

EAT:
Sofi’s Crepes for authentic crepes, Salt Tavern for inspired American food, The Black Olive for tasty Greek food in a a rustic and romantic setting, and Pitango for great gelato.

SHOP:
Sound Garden for vintage LPs, Killer Trash for killer vintage, AMuse Toys for beautifully crafted toys for your tots and Poppy and Stella for darling shoes.

PLAY:
One of the highlights of the year in Fells is the Films on the Pier series. Watch classic movies outside on the dock- how swoonful is that photo!

Our day in Fells:

fells point

The pier is so pretty and those big beautiful boats make want to jump onboard and yell Ahoy Matey! Jess does her best bevel in front of the Bond St. building- once a showgirl, always a showgirl. These pirate guys were killing me- they absolutely live for these weekends. That cute baby bump- can’t wait to meet the little Miss.

Jess’ Cabo Citrus Punch Mocktail direct from this dreamy place:

el farallon

Don’t you just want to jump into that picture and order yourself a cocktail (or mocktail)? Calgon- take me to Cabo.

A Momma’s Mocktail-According to Jess:

cabo citrus punch

 

P.S.: I love Jack Rudy’s Small Batch Grenadine Syrup- the best.

{Images: Olives: wiseGeek, Pitango gelato: Shootfirsteatlater.com, Fells Point Pier: Ken Adams, Mocktail: MarthaStewart.com}

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