Friday, April 29, 2016

In Black and White

I have always loved en noir photography, A French term meaning Black and White. En noir photography is intriguing in nuanced tones that capture one's imagination while it evokes emotion. There are no distractions in Black and White as there often are in color photography. Instead just tonal subtlety allowing the mind's eye to explore the captured subject. 

"Color is everything, Black and White is more"
~Dominic Rouse~

Since last year I have been including Black and White photos amongst color snapshots in my blog posts. I've enjoyed adding an additional dimension to my posts and will continue in the mix. Recently I decided to experiment posting only Black and White photos. Not in place of my color photos on my blog, instead as an addition in something new by joining Instagram. Blogging will remain my same format, every two weeks I'll post stories woven into my photo essay and share my poetry. Earlier this week I started posting my Black and White photos onto Instagram, in an effort to share the mystery that en noir creates in emotional response. 

Photo above was taken in our downstairs Laundry room. Captured on my iPhone 6S on a rainy day this week.

"When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph in Black and White, you photograph their souls!"
~Ted Grant~

A photo I snapped in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, a historic farmers market while John and I were food shopping. I enjoy watching people as I find observation quite interesting. Secretly writing in my mind's eye imagined details of their life stories during our brief connection in time.  

I snapped this photo this past September in Lambertville, NJ during my Birthday celebration. John and I had driven there in our 1972 French car, a DS 21 Citroën. We had dinner reservations for that evening at one of our favorite French restaurants named Manon and parked outside the restaurant earlier in the day. It's fun to park right in front - French food/French car and conversation unfolds.

Late afternoon while antiquing we walked back to our car to put some bags in the trunk noticing this elderly gent near our car. My mind raced with query, could this guy think he's a dapper dresser, is he striking a pose? Hand on his face, legs crossed, he was pondering a thought. I couldn't resist taking this photo en noir capturing that moment in time.

Flowers when viewed in Black and White allow your mind's eye to color in its own floral hues. Your imagination creates the color you perceive. 

When I shared my poem I wrote for this post with John he said "it's deep, like you, but interesting". So below is my poetry that expresses and explains my love of Black and White photography. 

In Black and White...
There is mystery and intrigue layered in dimension within my minds perception versus the actual reality
A photographers awareness expressed and captured to promote exploration of the subject revealed in neutrality

In Black and White...
Excitement stimulates my imagination and I indulge in fanciful stories through observation enticed by the tonality
Emotions are conveyed and feelings portrayed for those who take the time to perceive the potentiality

In Black and White...
Interest increases in the tonal values and implied sentiments captured that seem to evoke sensuality
But photographed in both color and Black and White and then compared it becomes a nuanced subject depicted in duality.
© Vera

Photo is of a 32 inch standing Chinese Acupuncture Buddha on our Dining room's credenza. Once used for training in the acupuncture points it's hand carved out of a solid block of wood. I was fascinated when I found him.

Around Buddhas neck I've draped vintage rosaries from family members who have passed. I hold great reverence for rosaries that have been blessed and used in prayer, especially from loved ones. As I pass by during the day I feel the peaceful energy each rosary holds.

One rosary is from John's Uncle George who passed at age 103. A blessed rosary given to him from Pope John Paul ll, its crystals are Red. Its the Red one that is noticed first, as a designer I know eye goes to color. Yet when photographed in Black and White there are no color distractions competing for attention. Instead the photo clearly shows the acupuncture points and the writing markings of each. Personally I feel studying a subject through Black and White enables the mind's eye to appreciate the subject in whole. 

After we brought Buddha home that weekend a friend came over for dinner, an antiques junkie but not someone who collects Buddhas. As the evening progressed food and wine was enjoyed. During desert he suggested that the next party we host we should place Buddha on the Dining room table and put toothpicks with hors-d'oeuvres in the acupuncture points. Seriously hors- d'oeuvres ... I don't think so!

Photo taken on Halloween evening on my visit to the bathroom. We dined at Lily's on the Canal in Lambertville, NJ. Lily's is located in a rustic picturesque historic building on the Delaware Canal. Lily's is a favorite restaurant of ours, offering an eclectic inventive menu. Dining within the preserved integrity of the buildings original charm. Inside modern funky lighting design combines with the old architecture.  I took this photo en noir, lending a haunting Halloween charm of the handmade candle stick illuminating the old stones walls that have been in spots patched with rough cement.

I took this photo at twilight during the Popes visit to Philadelphia in September, 2015. The sky holds mystery and intrigue and many different things have been spotted in the clouds by many people including us. I had included this photo in a past post and because its dramatic in Black and White it has an encore presentation!

A peek into our sitting room seen reflected in an antique mirror that replaced the original glass of the antique salvaged shutter. The shutter was gifted to me by my son who was working on a remodeling of a 200 year old farmhouse in Buck's County, PA. The wood had taken on a gorgeous weathered texture and it is a very interesting décor wall piece. I love reflections photographed in Black and White allowing your mind to explore the contrast in its tonality.

A flickering candle on my countertop the other evening. A re-wined soy candle poured into a recycled Green glass wine bottle that I placed into a rustic chicken wire holder. 

"Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness."
~Anne Frank~

Photo taken en noir of Marcel our French Bull dog who happens to be our watchdog! He's made, OK was born in France, has flocked hair and is a bobble head. 

I appreciate your visits to rowhomesandcobblestones and the sweet comments you leave for me. I love reading each and every one of them. I am taking a month long blogging break, I need one desperately, it's been a year since I took a break. I will return back to Blog Land in June. During my break I will not post nor visit any blogs, but I will be posting my Black and White photos on Instagram. I hope when you get a chance you check them out. A link to my Instagram account is on the blogs sidebar. Click the icon and it will take you there. See you back here in June.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Cat and Mouse kind of post...

While thinking about, OK perhaps more like dreaming up what my next post would be about - out of the Blue I had a craving for a Chocolate Chip cookie. Might be because I've drastically cut back on sugar, but there it was a undeniable got to have one craving for mega grams of sugar in a cookie. Both John's and my favorite cookie hands down. Fact is Chocolate Chip is America's favorite cookie, 53% of us love them the most. Problem was there was none, nada, zilch in our home. Actually no prepared or packaged sweets at all. But downstairs in our pantry the large Toll house milk chocolate bag of chips was lying in wait. Instantly I knew my post would be a light hearted share of my latest clay creation in play and a show and tell in my kitchen written from my heart.

So who invented our favorite cookie and when? Well back in the 1930's circa 1938 Ruth Graves Wakefield invented the Toll House brand of Chocolate Chip cookies. She and her husband owned the Toll House Inn in Whitman Massachusetts and invented the recipe by accident. Ruth added broken chocolate bar pieces into her cookie batter thinking they would melt ... They didn't. True story and the legacy of my craving. But back then they were the size of a quarter and baked until very crisp. Our favorite cookie is beloved by so many there is even a special day set aside to celebrate, seriously.  Go ahead and mark your calendars May 4th is National Chocolate Chip cookie day. Personally I think it should be called we love Ruth Graves Wakefield day!

Ready to bake? Let's fill this cute empty Cat cookie jar from Anthropologie up with CC's! We prefer them soft from butter and packed with Pecans which is our favorite nut.

Love him! 

I simply follow the tried and true recipe on the back of the package. We prefer milk chocolate chips over the bittersweet and add chopped pecans. We do not eat white sugar so I use turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw).

I buy the best Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla I can find. This batch will be made with Nielsen Massey. The scent of vanilla is heavenly.

First batch about to be baked. Already John's hanging out close to the kitchen. My kitchen stalker today.

For the past 37 years we've been married, without fail every Christmas Eve when the cookie trays are set out after our 7 fish dinner my Mother in Law will say this to me in more or less these words ... "I didn't bake any Chocolate Chip cookies this year, never again, your Johnny used to sniff and hunt them out as a kid. Eating each and every one before Christmas, leaving only empty tins! Then the conversation continues "I can't even look at a Chocolate chip cookie anymore without thinking of him eating them all". Really? Seriously? So I guess M-I-L Annie has tried repeatedly to tell me that I am married to this guy..... 

"Me Cookie Monster. That all there is to it. ME love to eat cookie. Sometimes eat whole, sometimes me chew it".
~Cookie Monster~

Now this quote is also true of John and I'll let Cookie Monster say it in his own words.

"Sometimes Me think what is Friend?"
and then me say,
"Friend is someone to share the last cookie with".
~Cookie Monster~

My kitchen stalker John a.k.a Cookie Monster will have his taste satisfied with this plate of chocolate chip cookies and a cappuccino. Waiting patiently for me to snap a couple photos. 

So the cat has been fed and he is full and I notice John is smiling like a Cheshire Cat. 

When I was young my brother Michael and I would spend countless hours watching cartoons. Cartoons fed my overactive imagination and encouraged my love of cats and mice. My favorite cartoons in order were Tom and Jerry, Sylvester the Cat and Mickey Mouse. They permanently infused my developing creativity in a playful cat and mouse kind of way. Much was learned as a child in the humorous interaction of predatory characters. Even today I delight in memory of the imaginative cartoons of my childhood. In banter during verbal exchanges often imprinted cartoon images are recalled reflecting our life in modern day.

Meet Mr. Charlie Mouse my latest clay creation to celebrate Springtime into Summer blissfully on a swing. He hangs in our bathroom on a faux Magnolia branch. It is the perfect perch to add the unexpected touch of whimsy and help promote a smile.

The silk White Magnolia branch is from Crate and Barrel.

I shaped and carved the swing out of clay. I baked it for 90 minutes and then applied 4 shades of acrylic paints to make it appear rustic, old and as if found by Charlie mouse to make his fun swing. John suggested I snip off loose hair from the jute twine but my reply was I'm leaving it on, it adds to the rustic charm.

Large beads were added to add whimsy and jute twine completes Charlie's swing. 

I twice baked Charlie like a Biscotti cookie to insure extra drying time.

"It's a happy day when the birds fly by and I swing high enough to reach them in the sky".
~Mr. Charlie Mouse~

Diminutive in scale sitting Charlie measures a smidgen over 3 inches.

I'll leave you today with my all time favorite quote and below that is a poem titled Freedom of expression I wrote inspired by it. Disney's quote allows me Carte Blanche to engage in folly. I believe imaginations are fueled by our appreciation in the creative efforts by others. When the clock stroked midnight on New Year's Eve I promised myself 2016 would be my year to tip the scales of play over work. So far so good.

"Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age and dreams are forever"
~Walt Disney~

A human's imagination remains boundless to magical possibilities occurring each and everyday
It's hindrance from peer pressure that obstructs us and creative thoughts are often lead astray

Imagination is an attribute developed and nurtured during free-spirited engagement in play
Thoughts and ideas forming in ones mind and accumulating together into a wondrous prolific ingenious bouquet

It's only because of harsh judgement from others in our creative efforts we often become afraid to portray...
I invite you to jubilation as you celebrate your talents, but first you need to banish other peoples opinions away.
© Vera

I love reading your comments so please leave one behind. Questions? Just ask and I'll answer via email.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Refresh and renew part 2

We live in daunting times. Fearsome days because of terrorism and tragedy that too often turn into tears. I recently sat down and searched my heart why I, a private person blogs and shares. Surprisingly the answer was simple. I want and hope to provide my reader's respite in thought and vanish concerns of the day for a brief while. Each post takes time to plan its message, weaving my stories in and refining my words as I share my poetic expression. Hopefully my sentiments leave you pondering, smiling and feeling inspired. I delight in reading blogs. For me it is a perfect diversion in the morning with a cup of coffee. Distracting my mind from daily stress visiting blogs reward me with inspiration.

This is part 2 of our Living room updates to freshen our nest, our true respite where we live and entertain. Conversation and the sound of laughter resonates in our home providing happiness and solace. There's no grand gestures with my décor style and if pressed to describe my style I'd say it's a collected eclectic global feel with a French vibe. But since our home is always evolving time will tell. It's in the consistency of color's and pieces that flow room to room that to me logically blend everything together in my tactile design.

Serendipity often factors into our choices. An example is our new color washed to look aged Persian inspired 8x10 rug purchased from Pottery Barn. We weren't expecting to purchase a new rug quite so soon. We had a large cowhide over a sisal rug. Great texture and we adore cowhides, own several and plan to use the current one downstairs in the central area when the renovation is completed. I flipped back the sisal to clean underneath and noticed that the latex backing had started to stick to the hardwood floor. Quickly we rolled up the sisal and it went out on trash day. Thankfully whatever latex that stuck was easily removed with orange oil cleaner. I learned afterwards latex backings all eventually break down. Our new rug is made from Organic virgin wool and the rug pad is made from all natural materials. 

I admire over dyed vintage Persians very much and merchants claim they disinfect the rug removing all dirt and odors. I was very tempted to purchase one but with Simon >^..^<  I decided against one. Reason being with my luck and Simon's sensitive nose he might/would smell Yak pee or Monkey poop (just saying) and feel the need to mark his territory! I know accidents happen and I always have Nature's miracle spray near by but went with the new over dyed rug to look old instead.

Antiques are displayed in a contemporary way, our collections and art is lived with casually and appreciated everyday. Relaxation and movie nights take place in here.

On either end of our antique Lineberry 100 year old factory cart (serves as our coffee table) are two antique African stools I collect. 

We've added a French petite chandelier we purchased from eBay and hung it over our coffee table. The chandelier is from the 1940's. The 40's in French design is magical for me. Not that I'd like to go back and live in that era but would enjoy owning more authentic French 1940 objects and furniture. Our chandelier came with crystals that were pretty, but I wanted a different look so I removed all the crystals and purchased loose vintage crystals on eBay. 

This chandelier is our third petite, this one has 5 lights, the other two 4 lights. The other chandeliers are hung in our bedroom over our bed and in the guest room over the bed. Our bedroom chandelier has Amber drops and vintage clear crystals mixed in. The guest room has Cobalt drops mixed with vintage clear.

Our living room chandelier is jeweled with dark amethyst Purple drops on top. These are vintage and rare. There were only 5 up for sale and I scooped them up with a buy it now on eBay.

The bottom arms has teardrops in dark amethyst and appear very Purple in sunlight. Rare to find and I am trying to hopefully purchase more. I am absolutely smitten with the Purple crystals. I keep having this daydream where I find vintage 8 mm dark amethyst garland beads to replace the clear ones. I call the beads rosary beads because tactile wise it feels like rosary beads and the 8mm size even more so.  Finding 3 yards will be difficult ... But hey I'm a daydream believer.

Awhile back I did a post named Tossing and Turning and for that post I photographed the bedrooms chandeliers in Black and White. I enjoyed the photos so much I asked John to print them out directly onto canvas to hang on our Living rooms floating gallery wire. With the addition of our 5 light chandelier there is a serendipitous vibe that's occurred in our Living room.

Beneath the canvas prints are two ledges we display antiques on. Antiques from Burma, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, India and Africa. Some are part of my Buddha collection I been collecting for nearly 20 years and are displayed throughout our row home.

Between the chandelier prints hangs a Cartapesta (papier mâché) winged heart made by Méa StauB (source at bottom of post). I've hung it on the gallery wire with twisted thin copper wire. There is a rhinestone embedded that dots the word étoile (French for star). It sweetly blinks and shines as you walk by. It's always the little details that blow me away.

It's amazing how our global eclectic décor just by adding a French vintage chandelier can suddenly be lifted in emotional allure to romantic whimsy. Hey I wonder if John will enjoy romantic comedy's more now ... Probably not!

I admit I love Black and White photography. Sometimes when it's en noir the photo capture seems timeless and I love that aspect. 

300 years old+ and emitting a powerful peaceful karma that greets our guests. His hand positions gesture's are a welcome and blessing of protection. Made of hand carved wood they once flanked a Tibetan monastery's pavilion in China. One of a pair, this is the right side Buddha.

Buddha is adorned with a 1940's 14K White Gold and Austrian crystal necklace that was my Mom's. Occasionally for a special event I will borrow it from Buddha.

Last post I featured "Le Salon" by Méa StauB here is a photo of where it's placed on our stairway wall.

The finial on top of the piece is twisted wire coated with Méa's Cartapesta mixture she creates. I adore the finial that sits on this magical piece.

When we purchased our house John and I fell in love with the stair case and guess what 37 years later we still love it.

Purchased in the mid 90's from Pottery Barn our hanging pendant lamp. Inspired by an Italian Venetian lamp made with a wired silk shade, knotted tied pearls and 2 beads that secure a silk tassel. Lighting is an irresistible weakness for me. In our home each light and lamp has been installed with a dimmer to achieve mood lighting.

Whimsy will always factor into our home's décor choices. I delight in the little unexpected touches in décor and when visiting others what lingers in my minds eye.

I've named him Rex. My favorite breed is the wire haired Fox terrier. Although I've never owned one I've loved them since the Thin Man series.

I purchased this pillow from Antropologie for the sofa in the living room. But ... Serendipity played its hand and it wound up on the Settee upstairs in our sitting/reading room. I've kept our house consistent in color's and textures so everything is complimentary and interchangeable from room to room. Often moving a piece to another room gives a whole new appreciation to it.

Yet somehow I prefer this long 40 inches by 14 high pillow here. Let's ignore the swiffer duster propped up against the guest rooms door frame! Our French bulldog Marcel a bobble head pretends he's a watch dog! As we go back downstairs and leave our row home one more photo is left to see.

In our vestibule a vintage movie poster that was displayed in a Japanese theatre. We purchased it years ago at a auction. It is from the French 1965 movie Paris Vu Par (Six in Paris). The movie is six vignettes set in different arrondissements (districts) of Paris by six different directors. The vintage movie poster has great appeal to me. I adore the graphic of the Eiffel Tower in the cat's eyes and love it's Purple.

I hope you found part 2 interesting and thanks for spending time with me. I appreciate your visits and enjoy reading your comments. I leave you today with my poem titled Refresh and Renew. 

It's not about gutting and buying everything new to update our homes, nor is it about tossing old pieces away
Sometimes it's just serendipity, the occurrence or turn of events by chance resulting in a happy or beneficial way

When walking around your house looking to find the perfect spot for a piece can turn into gratifying play
Do not believe what you love in your heart, embrace in your home or things that lift your spirit will ever become passé

It's just a clever mass marketing ploy to promote desire for new décor styles, remember the word passé is so cliché
Lately in our home it's been all about a refresh and repurposing approach as we delight in finding vintage pieces to display

Oftentimes it is more interesting to let your style evolve over time because impulsive emotional decisions can cause dismay
Enjoy respite in your nest that comforts and protects you from worldwide inconsolable headlines of today

We are living in daunting times with violence from both domestic and foreign groups that led to tragedy and I want to convey...
I truly believe "there's no place like home" and being incognito to find peace and solace at home is perfectly okay.

© Vera