All posts tagged: Travel

Charleston for the Weekend! Plus, Paint Colors!

You know how I said I was trying to get out more? Like trying to take regular breathers from the house and the rest of life to see the people I love and do stuff I maybe want to do?

I did it again! My dear old friend Chandler (you might remember blog posts about her apartment from forever ago!) and I planned this little weekend jaunt down to Charleston, SC back in April, and I have to say it was nice and motivating to have something like this to look forward to throughout the summer! Then it totally crept up and we were on our way. Crazy how that happens.

Charleston is SUCH a beautiful city. I visited with my family briefly about a year ago, so when Chandler suggested we go there I was super excited to go back. The city is just so amazingly historically intact—it’s a total fantasyland if you’re interested in old buildings and history.

The real impetus for the trip was to catch a live show of one of our favorite podcasts, My Favorite Murder! Where my murderinos at?! If you’re not familiar, I’ll try to explain it like the hosts, Karen and Georgia, do: it’s a true crime/comedy podcast, which is a complicated combo to negotiate yet they make it work. Each week, they individually pick a murder from history and then recap it for the other one, and that’s basically the whole thing. It never gets old. And there’s an endless supply of murder because people are monsters! Karen and Georgia’s voices have kept me company for literal hours and hours while I’ve plugged away on projects on the house and whatnot, so being in a room with them performing live was so weird and crazy—both the same and different than I expected. It was a lot of fun.

In any case, the podcast is super crazy popular and has a rad population of fans, so if it sounds interesting to you I’d HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend starting from the beginning so that you, too, can develop a close, personal, one-sided bond with these women as their goofy idea for a podcast becomes, like, an international sensation before your very ears. Otherwise you might just be very annoyed by it all.

OH ALSO REAL QUICK: because people simply cannot get enough murder and comedy in combination, getting tickets to one of these shows was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever been tasked with doing. I had to join a fan club to get pre-sale access to the tickets and even those sold out in about 6 seconds flat. Eek! Sometime before that, I figured out that my friend Lauren who runs the Historic Charleston Foundation is also a murderino, as is her friend Gray, so we all went together with the 4 tickets I was able to snag. So the show was on Friday, and then every Monday they post mini-episodes where they basically read off listener emails of their own murder-related or otherwise creepy/weird/macabre stories. And on this Monday’s episode, THEY READ LAUREN’S EMAIL! Which, by the way, was a really fascinating insight into how the Historic Charleston Foundation conducts research on the properties they own, plus some surprising finds from inside some very old walls. It’s Minisode #89, if you’re interested!

So that was cool.

Otherwise, we pretty much just walked around, ate, and tried to take in as much of Charleston’s absurd beauty as we could before heading home.

I MEAN, JUST LOOK AT THIS PLACE! It’s insane. I think due to a combination of early and comprehensive historic protections and a fairly mild climate, Charleston kind of reminds me of what a place like Kingston might look and feel like if it hadn’t fallen victim to terrible urban-renewal policies and the unmitigated trend of replacing windows, doors, and exterior cladding with plastics and metals. It’s really something.

So many original windows! So many working shutters! SIIIIGHHHHH.

Marble floors like this are all over the city.

I’m crying.

I love this house and this arborvitae situation.

We ate very well during our short trip, including brunch at this restaurant called 5Church on the morning we left! Such a great space. The food was awesome too.

There are several historic house museums right in downtown Charleston, including The Nathaniel Russel House and the Aiken-Rhett House which I toured last time, and the Calhoun Mansion which I toured this time! LOOK AT THAT VESTIBULE TILE! The Calhoun Mansion doesn’t allow photography but the other two (managed by the Historic Charleston Foundation) do.

ANYWAY. Knowing more or less what I was getting into, I tried to come to Charleston a little more prepared this time around than last by remembering to bring my Nix Mini sensor! I know I’ve mentioned this thing on Instagram but I can’t remember if we’ve discussed it here…it’s a little ping-pong-ball-sized device that can scan and match paint colors on the go! Out in the wild! It pairs with an app on your phone, which allows you to choose between a bunch of different paint brands and save and organize colors you’ve scanned into collections. It’s a little addictive! Because Charleston picks paint colors really, really well, I thought I’d scan great colors here and there as we walked and put together a palette for the city! Is that fun? Not fun? I thought it was fun. Maybe we’ll do it again someday. Maybe we’ll never do it again ever. Either way, if you’re looking to inject your color scheme with some southern style, here ya go! Do with it what you will!

 

Michigan!

I’m a person who naturally resists the importance of having goals, but secretly really likes to make goals. And lists. Lists of goals. Goals to make more lists.

A consistent, long-running goal of mine is to MAKE THE TIME TO GO SEE PEOPLE I CARE ABOUT. It’s also one I consistently feel like I fall short on. I’ll concede that it’s partly the house—giving up a sunny summer weekend translates to at least a few days when I can’t be scraping or caulking or painting or carpenter-ing or whatever it is, and that’s difficult for me wrap my mind around. The bigger reason, more likely, is that this is kind of a new-ish thing in my life, and I haven’t figured it out yet. This thing where the majority of my friends live in places that are different from where I live, and I won’t just see them again in the fall or on that vacation my family takes every year together, you know? You have to start working for it a little. And work is hard. Not working is easier than working. So the work of setting aside some time, planning it out, making reservations, and getting on a plane or a bus or a train doesn’t get done. And then you don’t see so-and-so until somebody dies.

So. I try to remind myself that blocking out some time and skipping town for a few days is REALLY FINE. EVERYTHING WILL BE OK. THE JOB WILL NOT IMPLODE. THE HOUSE WILL NOT COLLAPSE. THE PROJECT WILL WAIT. And hopefully when I’m back I’m actually excited to get going again…because isn’t that kind of the best feeling? I had hoped to do more of this kind of thing this summer, but ya know. Time moves fast and projects are intense and I turned around and it was August.

SO! Realizing the end of summer was approaching and I’d neglected this goal completely, I got my shit together and planned a little bop to Michigan! My super cool Chicago-based aunt and uncle, Janis and Tom, have a weekend-ish place in Sawyer, a short drive from Lake Michigan. It’s such a special place. I grew up going there every now and then, back when they owned the adjacent property and a different house which they renovated about 5 times over. At some point when I was a kid, they purchased this adjacent woodsy/prairie lot with a cute little house on it, which they renovated into a cozy guest cottage. We’d stay there as kids, making a short walk through the woods between the two houses to hang out with my cousins Tatum and Reese around the pool or get in a little gardening time with Tom. Then more recently, they sold the original house and undertook a massive renovation of the cute little guest cottage, and the result is this gorgeous place that feels at once familiar and completely brand new. Janis and Tom mostly designed the house themselves—a habit of theirs when it’s come to their own properties over the years, each somehow more beautiful than the last—which is honestly a little too impressive.

In the background of this, they also focused on stewarding the several-acre prairie, working with experts on native ecology to remove overgrown trees, do controlled burns to eliminate invasive species, and re-seed with this incredible array of native plants and flowers, which in turn has attracted an incredible array of native birds and insects. And THEN, they went and mowed paths through the prairie and created a damn sculpture park with their art collection. Tom is a collector and art dealer and Janis is a collector and an artist. So. You know. Very good taste. Lots of weird creative energy. Personal sculpture park. As one does.

The property has a few little outbuildings on it, including the cutest little boathouse thing there ever was! There’s pretty much just a mini-fridge of beer and some chairs…what else do you need?

Hi Phoebe! Such a pretty girl.

THE DEER! It’s like 16 feet tall. It’s so fucking cool.

This space used to be where my parents slept when we went to visit! It’s really weird seeing a recognizable view out the window but be in a completely different space. The collection of antique Mexican pottery is so beautiful. I love how Janis and Tom balance old and new—their spaces always feel modern but there’s barely ever anything actually new in them. My grandparents had that wild chandelier removed from their house during redecorating in the 70s—only for Janis to hang it up here 40-some years later.

Janis and I are a lot alike.

Anyway, it was a few wonderful days of hanging out, cooking, going to the beach on Lake Michigan that I love so much, exploring Sawyer, wandering the prairie, trying to infuse a watermelon with a bottle of tequila…you know, good clean family fun! I got to take my two “little” cousins (now fully grown adults!) to their first drive-in movie, and sing camp songs around a campfire with Janis and Tom for the first time in roughly 2 decades.

That kind of shit is good for your soul, I’m telling you.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! I was EFFICIENT. Also on my list of people to visit were my friends Kim and Scott, who ALSO HAVE A HOUSE NEARBY! So after a few days with Janis and Tom, I threw my bindle over my shoulder and headed over to Tree House. They actually hung out with Janis a while ago when they started looking for houses in the area, which I think is kind of adorable. “Hey Aunt Janis, can I invite my blog friends over to your house even though you don’t know them at all and I won’t be there? Great thanks!”

OMG YOU GUYS, MY HEART.

MY OVARIES.

ALL THESE VARGOS.

My two cute sweet blog friends up and made a baby since last time I saw them, and…well. Lucy is the cutest most charming little baby in the world. I got to nibble those toes! I don’t even consider myself a “baby person” but I ADORE THIS BABY.

Also, seeing Kim and Scott in these new roles as parents of a human being is just so beyond heartwarming. They’ve always been the best couple but now they’re the best parents too, and that is one lucky duck of a kid.

Of course, my other favorite Vargo (all of them are my favorite Vargo) is CC, short for Chocolate Chunk because look at her. I packed in as much CC cuddle time as possible during my short stay, during which she convinced me she was allowed to be on the bed when, in fact, she is not allowed to be on the bed. Sorry Kim and Scott!!!

(I’m not sorry)

We went to the dunes! Which was cool and also my feet melted to the sand!

GIMME DAT BABY!

Even though we both have blogs about the same kind of stuff, it was fun to get a glimpse into how the Yellow Brick Home blog-sausage is made! Kim and Scott work their asses off–not just on the renovations (impeccable, every time) but also on creating really well-produced blog content, and they do it in this hyper-organized, thorough, kind, supportive, cooperative, adult kind of way that’s…well damn. It’s serious work but not too serious, and honestly it’s inspiring to watch. They’re the kinds of friends that make me want to be better.

Kim and Scott did a little video recording during my visit, which they then cut into these cute little videos! You can check out our day of bopping around here, and a little Q+A we put together here!

Because I am seemly incapable of leaving anywhere empty-handed, I MAY have done a little thrifting. Now I will show you my items.

First up is this little piece of pottery. It’s by SØHOLM, a mid-century Danish ceramics maker. Usually with vintage ceramics I prefer one-of-a-kind amateur studio pottery (the more its taste can be questioned, the better), but hey! It fits in well.

Also, I got these primitive wooden tools. I think the one on the left is a kind of masher, and the one on the right is a butter paddle? I kind of just started buying things like these a while ago because they’re usually just a few bucks and I think they’re so simple and pretty…a little oil and bam, collection!

Someday I’ll figure out what to do with them. Stop rushing me!!!

Also I found this sweet pair of 20s/30s bathroom sconces, which for $12 for the pair just seemed dumb to pass up. It’s the kind of thing that isn’t that special, but if you wait until you NEED them, you’re at the mercy of resources that you KNOW will have them, and then you pay way more. YES in fact I DID buy two similar sconces not that long ago for the same reason. Anyone need a vintage bathroom renovated? (Oh right, I have 4 on the docket, never mind.)

Oh ALSO I picked up another yellowware bowl. I will not be stopped.

Thank you for having me, loved ones!

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