This is our backyard. Oh, okay, that’s a downright lie. You know that our backyard actually is about the size of this patio table. And even if it were bigger, I still wouldn’t have the talent and skill to make our outdoor space look this cute and inviting. I mean, don’t you want to just pull up a chair and pour a nice cool drink? Love the bright red and green tablescape with lemon-yellow accents. So summery! This was only one of the dozens of inspiring “rooms” on this past weekend’s Corinth (Mississippi) Home & Garden Tour. Sponsored by Verandah House Friends, the annual tour raises money to restore Corinth’s 1857 Verandah House, a Greek Revival beauty where Confederate officers planned their Shiloh campaign. The tour included a flower show, a silent auction of amazing local art, a bake sale and a plant sale. But the stars, of course, were the homes and gardens. Three houses in one of Corinth’s historic districts were open to visitors, and it was a constant stream of admiring “ooh’s and ahh’s” as we peeked into interior rooms and wandered through outdoor spaces. I especially was impressed with the way the owners combined respect for their homes’ authenticity with modern individual touches — beloved family heirlooms were cozily comfortable sharing with cheerful 21st-century details. But, you know, that’s how we do it* in the South.
* I was going to say “that’s how we roll in the South,” but since that invariably would lead to “Roll, Tide!” references I went instead with a less inflammatory phrase. After all, this is a free and open space where we tolerate all opinions and where differences are welcome. On the other hand: “War Eagle!”
I read or heard recently a news report that shopping is good for you — it gets you out of the house, gives you exercise and company and a new perspective on things. Of course, in my case that new perspective is “What’s happened to all our money?”, but that’s a minor issue. The point is that you can Learn Things and Gain Experience by shopping. For example: I recently discovered that you can buy duct tape in patterns remarkably similar to some throw pillows I have. And more. Am I the only person around here who didn’t know that duct tape comes in bright neons and animal prints as well as the standard battleship gray? I’m guessing this idea was inspired by more women doing more do-it-yourself jobs around the house. But, honestly, does everything we touch have to be cute and colorful? I realize I’m wandering into dangerous grouchy-old-lady “you-damn-kids-get-outta-my-yard!” territory here, but seems to me that when you need duct tape, having the good ol’ dependable gray workhorse around is best. I’m not sure I’d feel quite confident that zebra stripes are going to do the job. With all due respect to zebras, of course. But we all know that manufacturers and retailers have all sorts of tricks to lure us into buying stuff. Such as this sign my husband and I spotted in a home warehouse-store. It uses all the correct decorating words to grab our attention: “Euro!” “Shaker!” “Espresso!” — a combination of adjectives that only exists in marketing land. I mean, is there such a thing as “Euro Shaker?” I’m doubting it. And Mr. Google agrees with me. Plus, throwing in “espresso” is just silly. Are they talking about Italian roast? French press? A Starbucks doppio? Define your terms, people! But I do like that mirror.
When the going gets tough, the tough clear their calendars, buy plenty of wine and head out to for a weekend near the water. And, boy, you know that things sure get tough a lot. Okay, not really — but us girl friends have to have an excuse to get away every now and then. We’re counting on one of us to retire soon and buy a fabulously big lakehouse with room for all of us, but until then we have to rent our getaways. Luckily, a couple of us are skilled at wading through all the lists of possible rentals and honing on in exactly what we need. Such as this one-level open-plan charmer we hung out at recently. It was a wet weekend so we couldn’t enjoy the inviting back deck and the peaceful view as much as we would have liked, but the interior was so industrial-modern and minimalist-funky that we were fine inside. We loved the brick walls and exposed ductwork and construction details that ran throughout the house. There even were two commercial-style garage doors that opened up to the deck to bring the outside almost completely in. The sleek upscale kitchen had plenty of storage along with stainless appliances and granite countertops. The cabinets sported gorgeous door pulls that carried out what we felt was an urban-loft theme — on a lakeshore surrounded by trees and water. And good friends. And plenty of wine.
Oh, yes. I’ll have one of each, please. Although, truthfully, that would be a lot of lamps. And pillows. Anyway, this is the home decor/interior design shop retropolitan, in Nashville, Tennessee‘s hip Hillsboro Village. Thankfully, you don’t have to be hip to go in and look around, which is what my husband and I did recently. We are in a continual dialogue about furnishing and decorating our new house – it’s the first house we’ve bought and lived in together and we want it to reflect both of us. And by “dialogue,” you know I mean me saying, “Oh, this is wonderful! It would look so cute in our living beside the front windows” and him saying, “Uh, how many zeros are on that price tag again?” But retropolitan is the sort of place where you so wish you had lots of zeros to spend.
I don’t know what it is about Mississippi and restaurant names, but any eatery in the Magnolia state that has the word “grocery” in it is bound to be a winner. Examples: City Grocery in Oxford, Pizza Grocery in Corinth. And Romie’s Grocery in Tupelo. A meat-and-three by day, Romie’s turns into a warm and friendly dining experience at night featuring a creatively eclectic menu of fresh Southern favorites. And then of course there is the ladies’ room — you know that’s one of my top priorities for a restaurant. And Romie’s gets top grades for its home-like decor, cozy lighting and whimsical art work. Also: I sort of want to take this sink and the bathroom counter home with me, but a) that would leave a huge hole in the Romie’s ladies’ room and b) my Dear Husband consistently turns his nose up at bowl sinks. I say they’re an imaginative way to add some personality and style to a bathroom. He says, “They’re just weird. And wrong.” But I believe, with all due respect, that in this instance he is wrong. I mean, doesn’t the contrast of textures among the sink and the mirror and the counter just make you believe that the whole world should be this cool? Imagine, if you can, what it would look like with your typical white bathroom sink. Ugh. However, Dear Husband and I do agree that Romie’s is delicious and we should eat there as often as we can.
Oh so pretty! I am in love with Target‘s new blue-and-white spring things. Just walking through the store makes me think of sunny days and ditching the boots and wool jackets and planning Easter dinner and those wonderful spring breaks. These blue-and-white prints seem so fresh and clean — as if a warm spring breeze wafted through and banished winter. And, believe me, here in the South we definitely had winter this year. You know we got so used to snow that we sort of shrugged our shoulders whenever it was forecast yet again — and the frantic grocery-store runs dropped dramatically. But it’s time to forget winter. And, you know, looking at these prints makes me realize that we have no blue-and-white in our house. At all. We’ve got black-and-white. And soft greens. And splashes of orange and red. But no blues-and-whites. But I love these so much that I’m thinking “home re-do.” So excuse me while I go tell my husband we’re going to redecorate. He’ll be so pleased.
Folks in my area of northwest Alabama-northeast Mississippi-southwest Tennessee will recognize Henco Furniture in Selmer, Tenn. This mecca of furniture and home-decor is known for its slogan, “It’s worth the drive!”, and for its creative layout: The whole store is arranged like a downtown’s Main Street, with Americana storefronts, trees, parks and even a fire hydrant. You really feel as if Andy and Barney are going to be around the next corner. (Note the famous “barber” painted on the barbershop window.) Staff is friendly and helpful, and customers include everybody from bargain-hunters to those with unlimited budgets. There’s even a fun family restaurant and old-fashioned ice-cream parlor, the Whistle Stop Cafe. Oh, and the furniture? It’s there, too. You stroll along and go into one “store” for bedding, another for office furniture, another for kitchen tables and so on. Husband and I were there in our continuing quest to figure out our married-together style so we can fill up the empty spaces in our new house. His style got sort of stuck in 1980s bachelorhood. My style has stagnated, too, after years of marriage to a woodworker who specialized in country-Shaker furniture and then after years of being a financially challenged single mom. So Husband and I have some work to do. At Henco, we walked along and I said, “Oh, I like that” and then we kept walking and a few minutes later he said, “Oh, I like that” and sometimes it worked out that we said it at the same time. But not so often. Sigh. This is going to take a while. More shopping needed!