Rosie’s Cakes

My grandmother, Rose, is a domestic goddess of mythic proportion in my mind.  She could do everything.  She made dresses for my mother that I am still able to wear.  She hosted dinners for over 50 people on a weekly basis. Everything she created in the kitchen was extraordinary and the best I’ve eaten  – even just spaghetti with meatballs (which was really the only thing I ate as a kid, earning me the nickname “the spaghetti wrangler”).  She hosted pea parties where only dishes with peas were served (and it wasn’t gross!).  She left her Christmas tree up all year long.  She could knit an afghan, read a book and watch “Days of Our Lives” all at the same time. She had a built-in brick oven in her kitchen.  She used to buy me gold lamé bathing suits and took me to the diner with her friends.  Maybe it was her special Grandma touch, but she could do no wrong.

She also used to make the most remarkable wedding cakes.  I was sorting through some old photographs with my mother this weekend and we found these pictures of cakes she made in the late 60′s to the early 80′s.  The images aren’t in the greatest condition, but you’ll get the picture.  These are the wedding cakes of yore – you’ll be hard pressed to find a baker who still makes them like this (except for maybe in the Bronx?) and, although, it’s not necessarily an aesthetic that’s stood the test of time – you can certainly appreciate the artistry that goes into them.  They have electric fountains and angels and sugar roses for crying out loud!  I don’t know who they belonged to.  I wish I did.  Even though they were promptly eaten on someone’s wedding day, I am happy that I can share them with you here.

My Parents & Their Wedding Cake…

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Coral & Tusk Studio Visit

Coral & Tusk is one of my favorite textile designers and I’m so glad to have visited Stephanie Housley’s studio in Williamsburg. We picked up some things for Foxy & Winston.  I am SO excited about her new merit badges and bug pins.  I think Julian needs a Patridge badge for all the good work he does.  Oh and she also has this dog, Paco, who I might be having a love affair with.  THAT face??

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Going Home.

My mother was the first person to show me how to appreciate good design.  She takes such care in her home, every nook and cranny is perfect, yet not at all unapproachable or unlivable.  Even the newly affixed baby gates on the stairs were custom made to fit her modern craftsman aesthetic (maybe that’s nuts? I dunno…). Here are some pictures of my parents home in CT.

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I love Heath Ceramics.

One of my favorite jobs ever was the year I worked at the Heath Ceramics factory in Sausalito, CA while in graduate school.  It’s my favorite thing on earth…which is saying a lot since I’m not particularly a fan of the mid-century look.  Everyone should own a studio mug. I’ve amassed quite a collection over the years. Edith would be proud.

Heath Ceramics Collection

New Job!!

I just started working as the studio director for Foxy & Winston, a boutique textile and letterpress design house in Red Hook.  I’m so excited. I love Jane Buck, I love Red Hook (mostly for Baked’s biscuits) and I love letterpress. Three of the best things ever!

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On another note, it means I’m dissolving Rose & Virgina officially.  We saw it coming, for sure.  But I’d rather marry my talents with Jane’s and have a FAR better product than before.  I honestly, couldn’t be happier or more relieved about it.

Hudson, New York

This weekend we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary.  We decided to take another trip upstate to explore some more towns. So up the Taconic we went (again) and found ourselves in the lovely nautical town of Hudson.  Nautical, you say? Yes, it seems odd but after noticing the adorable whales that adorn every street sign, I got to wonderin’…we’re on the Hudson River, right?  Turns out this town was one of the most lucrative whaling towns outside Nantucket in the 19th century…even though it’s over 120 miles from the ocean.  Apparently, it’s smell and debauchery said it all – whales, ship captains and sea shanties were the regular for many years here in a town that was once one vote away from being the state capital! Here’s an article to edumacate you more (I won’t bore you with the deets).  Hudson looks and feels like a little port-side town in Maine…my kind of place!

We stayed at The Front Street Guest House right off of Warren Street.  It had so much 19th century charm!

We ate breakfast at MOD cafe and drank the famed Hudson Strongtree Coffee.

After that, we strolled down Warren Street to check out the many antique shops and boutiques.

Then, after a hearty nap, we ambled down to the river to watch the sunset (how romantical!)

Then, we had one of the best dinners I’ve every had (no hyperbole!) at Swoon Kitchenbar. We ate from their ever-changing farm-to-table menu. We closed the place down!

The next day we had breakfast (and more Strongtree Coffee) at Cafe Le Perche.

Then, on our way out of town we toured Olana, the home of Hudson River School artist, Frederick Church.  This place was astounding, with views of The Catskills and The Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Inside was just as breathtaking, they designed the entire interior based on trips they took to the Middle East.  Very dark and cozy…I want one!

After a brief stop for lunch at a local diner…

We stopped for some apples and butternut squash at the coziest farm stand we could find. I couldn’t pass up an apple turnover…

Hudson was so relaxing and I was so glad to spend some anniversary time with Mr.V – but man, was I happy to be home in the BK. Home is where the heart is!

Mahna Mahna…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jim Henson.  We would have celebrated his 75th birthday a few days ago if it weren’t for his untimely death.  It wasn’t until I started thinking about my own human-in-progress that I realized how influential he’s been in my life.   And really, how influential he’s been for a lot of people our age.

I’ve begun drafting a letter to my baby boy and opened it with a Jim Henson quote, “Love people for their differences – not their similarities”.  Seems rudimentary.  But then I think about all his creatures and how strange and beautiful they are. And they all love each other – take care of each other – and find comfort in each others unique “weirdness”.

When Mr. Vanderberg and I were announced for the first time, we walked into our reception to “The Theme from The Muppet Show”, a simple salute to letting your freak flags fly during what is supposed to be a time of tradition and reverence.  ”The Dark Crystal” has been playing over and over on some Showtime channel recently and  I will, without fail, put down the remote and watch it – no matter which point in the movie I encounter it.  I think I watched this movie daily as a kid, and I seem to be able to recall every line verbatim – which is not one of my talents.  ”Labyrinth” remains to this day a cult classic for all ladies our age – who doesn’t know all the words to “Dance, Magic, Dance“? (nor who could resist David Bowie in tights?).  Just last week my whole office broke out into “Somebody’s Getting Married” when a co-worker left for her pre-wedding high-light appointment.  We have two friends from college who we refer to as Statler and Waldorf, because of their many supposed secret and hilarious antics which often get displayed in public.

Not so long ago I was wandering around Red Hook with my pal Jane and we came across a filming of Sesame Street.  I felt a tinge of melancholy when I didn’t recognize one character…no vintage Grover or Oscar, just a fuzzy orange creature whose name eludes me.  But there were at least 10 neighborhood kids absolutely enthralled by her! They certainly recognized her celebrity.  It was heartwarming to know that Jim Henson’s legend lingers on – that he still produces magic for countless numbers of kids…and adults.   (Although, about 10 seconds after the filming we watched them toss this Muppet into a black duffel bag and pull out another one dressed in a different costume – kinda killed it for me!).

The first song I ever performed as a kid was “The Rainbow Connection” on my grandparents fireplace.  I recently bought “The Green Album” – a compilation of classic Muppets songs sung by some pretty awesome modern musicians. Weezer and Hayley Williams do a pretty heart-wrenching version of  this song, which I imagine singing to my baby boy, pretty soon. Take a listen here.

I just read a story about Jim Henson’s funeral. He asked that no one wear black and had The Dirty Dozen Brass Band play New Orleans style jazz.   At the end of the service at St. Patricks Cathedral here in NYC, the man who voiced “Scooter” got up with his Scooter Muppet and started singing one of Jim Henson’s favorite songs, “Just One Person”.  One by one, each human who voiced a Muppet got up with their Muppet and joined in.  Pretty soon the whole congregations was singing along too.  A real celebration of a beautiful life and a real testament to how influential just one person can be.  It’s said that Richard Curtis, a friend of Jim Henson who directed and wrote “Love Actually” was overwhelmed by this chorus. He claims it is the inspiration for the now infamous “All You Need is Love” wedding scene that makes us all tear up.

The new Muppet movie comes out Christmas of this year, around the same time the babe will be here too…I know he’ll be a little young to appreciate it, but I can’t wait to watch it with him.  Although Kermit’s voice won’t be quite the same thing, I’m sure it will make us all feel pretty excited the way “The Muppets Take Manhattan” did.  I particularly like the usage of Starships “We Built This City on Rock and Roll” in the preview – another favorite from my childhood – it’s like someone was trying to tell me something when putting this together, complete with a punching Miss Piggy “Hiyah!”.

My favorite Muppet was always Janice from Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem – a clueless combination Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin, and the only girl in an all boy rock band, which seemed like fun.  Who was yours??