Friday, October 31, 2014

Haunted Mansion Spirit Photography at Memento Mori in Walt Disney World

Happy Halloween! It's been a while, hasn't it? I promise I've had a good reason for being away: I just spent nine days at Walt Disney World with Keith and his parents. We rode Space Mountain almost every day, ate Dole Whips galore, sampled escargots at the Food and Wine Festival, spent afternoons relaxing at the pool, and took in so much vintage Disney kitsch that I'm still humming the Tiki Room song. But since today is Halloween, I want to tell you about my favorite spooky thing at Disney World: The spirit photography at the new Memento Mori gift shop.

Yes, the Haunted Mansion finally has a gift shop! According to Disney lore, the shop is housed in the former home of Madame Leota. Cute. The store just opened this month, and it's so popular that you have to wait in line to get inside and browse the merchandise. I couldn't get any good photos of the interior because it was jam-packed with shoppers, but this Disney Parks blog post has great pictures.

Disney spent two years designing the shop. The time they spent was worth it; the interior is wonderfully detailed, and the merchandise is really, really cool. From fine art and china to t-shirts and mugs, they offer something for every price point. Best of all, a lot of these souvenirs have classy, subtle designs that don't scream "I bought this at a theme park!" You have to look twice to notice that this damask design is the same wallpaper pattern used in the Haunted Mansion.

Photo from the Disney Store website
The fine china is restrained and elegant, too. I bought a single dinner plate to hang on the wall. But somewhere, I bet there is a couple who will put this porcelain china on their wedding registry... and I want to be friends with them! 

But the best thing in the shop, by far, is the spirit photography. For $19.95, the happy haunts at the Haunted Mansion will capture your essence and show you your spirit self. I couldn't resist them, and the entire experience was so well-done: Keith and I were taken into a small room inside the gift shop, wallpapered in Alexander Henry's skeleton toile print. A creepy cast member in Victorian garb chatted with us while never breaking character, took our pictures, and ushered us back to the main area of the shop. He advised us to wait until the spirits rang the bell. A few minutes later, when the bell rang, our photos were "delivered by the spirits" and "magically" appeared inside a cabinet.

We received these 8 by 10 inch hologram photographs that change depending on the angle at which you view the picture. I love them so much! I framed them the day after we got home, and I intend to display them every October. My best friend says, "These are going to be heirlooms. Your future children will be terrified of them at first. But someday, they'll fight over who gets to inherit them." If our children turn out to be anything like me, she's absolutely right.

If you want some spooky Disney stuff, but can't make it to Orlando, quite a few of the items in the store are available here at the online Disney Store. You can't buy everything here, but it beats buying a plane ticket to Florida! I hope you enjoyed this post, and have a happy Halloween!

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's a Bar. It's a China Cabinet. It's Perfect.

Do you keep a running list of things to look for when you're thrifting? I feel like I walk through antique and consignment stores muttering, "Pairofnightstands, diningchairspossiblyDuncanPhyfe, largedresser, buffet, antiquewardrobe, pairofarmchairs. NO QUEEN ANN LEGS!*"

White walls: Benjamin Moore White Dove. Black Trim: Benjamin Moore Black Beauty. Light Fixture: Helena Chandelier by Cal Lighting. Rug: Nyla by Loloi.
The hunt gives me a thrill, but I was glad to cross "buffet" off the list last week. I was picky, because I wanted a place to set up a bar and safely display my Grandma's china and our wedding crystal. A tall, traditional china cabinet seemed a bit too stuffy for us, and a typical buffet with storage cabinets doesn't normally display what's inside. I wasn't sure what we needed, but I had a feeling I'd know it when I saw it.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw this long, low buffet at Remix Furniture Consignment. It was perfect: The pattern on the doors matches the pattern carved into the top of our dining room table, and the cabinet lights up and makes our crystal sparkle. The crazy thing is that I'd seen it on Craigslist, hesitated, and regretted it. Lucky for me, the owner decided to get rid of it quickly by consigning it. It was meant to be! And as much as I love antiques, I was relieved that this piece isn't antique, because that meant it wasn't expensive. The shopkeepers were so nice, they even loaded it into the van I'd borrowed. This wasn't my first purchase from Remix, and it won't be my last.

I love the Duncan Phyfe pattern on the doors. I grew up with a piece of furniture that had similar glass doors, and I always admired it.
Hey, how was your weekend? Yesterday we celebrated our one year anniversary at the family lake house where we were married. It was a pretty low-key celebration: My Dad snapped some pictures of us posing in the same spot where we said our vows, and then we ate one year old wedding cake that still tasted surprisingly fresh. Later that evening, we shared dinner at Mafioza's, the same place where we celebrated our engagement. I can't believe we've already been married a year! We've grown so much closer over the last year, and life with Keith just keeps getting better. I'm so excited to see what our second year of marriage brings.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Faces Made of Flowers: The Four Seasons by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

A while back, I was at an antique show. When I saw a small oil painted version of the image above, it stopped me in my tracks. I was all, "Oh my gosh, she is made of flowers and her ear is a peony and maybe there is a ladybug on her boob and WOW. JUST WOW." She was weird and beautiful, and I fell in love at first sight.

The dealer sidled up to me and said, "I could take $750 for it." HAHAHAHA YEAH RIGHT!!! I tried to engage him in an enthusiastic conversation about the piece, and how it reminded me of 16th century Dutch Vanitas paintings, but he looked at me like I'd sprouted a tulip on my forehead. So I went home and Googled phrases like "face made of flowers" until I discovered the painter's name: Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Here's what I've been able to learn about the artist: Giuseppe Arcimboldo served as the court portraitist to three different monarchs. He was Italian but also lived and worked in Vienna and Prague. In addition to painting portraits, he was the court decorator and costume designer at the royal court in Prague. Um, how can I get that job?! He painted a few sets of The Four Seasons collection. However, the Swedish army looted many of his pieces when they attacked Prague in 1648. Few complete sets survive.

The first painting is called Spring, and it's the first painting in a four part series. Spring is all sweetness and flowers; Summer is fresh summer fruits; Autumn is pumpkins, apples, grapes, and kegs; Winter is roots, ivy, and gnarled tree trunks. Now I can't decide which one is my favorite! Which one do you like best? Summer's cucumber nose cracks me up, but I think Winter's gnarled face is so endearing.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Little Privacy, Please: Chartreuse Curtains

Good design can be an exercise in patience. Sure, you can buy a lot of whatever to quickly fill in the blank spaces. But what bothers you more: Blank spaces, or hastily chosen items of questionable quality? For me, it's definitely the latter. I'd rather hunt for the quirkiest and most beautiful things on Craigslist and in antique stores, even if it makes for slow progress. The delayed gratification makes each new addition so much more satisfying.. especially when we add something handmade, like these beautiful new curtains.

Bright, acid green by day...
They were lovingly made by hand, by my mother. Thanks, Mom! Custom draperies are Mom's business, and if you live in the Nashville area and need new window treatments, please drop me a line. I'll be glad to put you in touch with her. 

I love the way the risky acid green color looks when it's made into an ultra-traditional pleated drapery panel. The color changes throughout the day, too. It's vivid chartreuse in bright sunlight, and it fades to a softer shade of green at night. 

...and soft, mossy green by night.
The fabric came from Brentwood Interiors. I was so happy with their selection and customer service. They let me take home huge handfuls of generously-sized samples. Seriously, I brought home a piece of every greenish fabric they had, and they didn't bat an eye! Later, there was a problem with some of the fabric I bought, and they made the exchange process very easy.

The rods, rings, and finials are from Lowe's. It's the first time I've purchased solid wood rods, instead of adjustable rods. Every adjustable rod I've ever installed sags pathetically in the middle, and the solid rods look so much nicer and more substantial. They didn't have the exact size we needed, so I bought an 8 foot rod, and Keith cut into two 4 foot rods. It was a bit pricier than an adjustable rod, but much easier to install.

Before we installed the curtains, the chandelier hung awkwardly above the room, disconnected from everything else. Now, though, the curtains draw the eye up toward the ceiling and unify the space. there's just one problem: They frame the blank space over the bed, calling attention to the naked wall. What would you put there? Art? A mirror? Right now, I have no idea what belongs there. I probably won't know it until I see it.