Call me Fishmael.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Source: stellaholiday.blogspot.com via Josie on Pinterest

Hey, internet friends, what do you think?

It’s fall, and we’re looking forward to all those nice fall-y feeling things. Israel and I brainstormed over lunch this week, and he’s specifically looking forward to:

    • college football
    • tailgating
    • pumpkin beer
    • pumpkin anything
    • delicious air
    • sweaters
    • getting out his Patagonia fleece
    • romantic comedies that feel appropriate to autumn, such as St. Elmo’s Fire and Breakfast at Tiffany’s

It’s also about time to switch out clothes and little house items, like putting away the summer table cloth and getting out that delicious candle. BUT we have a dilemma. “Fishmael” is our gurgling cod from last summer’s New England vacation, possibly my favorite souvenir I’ve ever purchased. (We obviously had to choose Nantucket Red.) Does he stay or does he go?

Here’s Fishmael in his native habitat:

[Let’s take a moment, not for silence, rather for loud appreciation of Mama Rote’s handiwork on those shelves during her last visit! I had the vision; she handled the execution. Here’s the before; the cabinet on the right:

Note well: this metamorphasis took place only during times when Mary Tobin was asleep. And, these cabinets are heavy as the dickens, so we didn’t budge them to paint. When we move, we’ll have to paint the three remaining sides.

We lined the back with wallpaper (from a Washington Design Center sale) and used Annie Sloane chalk paint, which lived up to its rep of being nice and easy. The color is a mix of Duck Egg and French Linen that we dubbed “French Duck Linen” or “French Egg” or “Linen Duck” . . .  shall I go on?]

What do you look forward to for fall? I hope you’re pulling out the blankets, sprucing up the nest to make it nice and cozy, and enjoying the cool breeze through your windows.

More importantly, if you had a gurgling cod pitcher that brought an awesome glug-glug sound to the water glasses at your summer dinners, and—let’s be clear—undeniably reminds you of summer and whaling in Nantucket, would you let him stick around through the cold months? Or are some things made even more special through their absence? Again I ask you. Does he stay or does he go?

How To Ace Your Summer Cook Out

My brother John recently wrote a nice post on the Bonobos Blog on how to fake it through your 4th of July BBQ. I found it hilarious, and impeccably timed since we hosted a cook out on the Saturday of that weekend. (My doctor told me to stay inside 4th of July weekend because of the heat . . . woooops!)

This sentence perfectly describes our situation and strategy:

If you’re throwing a BBQ this weekend and don’t know what you’re doing, it’s probably too late so just focus on having plenty of ice cold American beer and fireworks.

We didn’t have fireworks but did have plenty of beer: American and Mexican, and Canadian, courtesy of our friend Ian—then someone made a joke about NAFTA, so you know we’re a bunch of DC nerds.

It was a great time, and a great chance to have more than just a few people over. The apartment is small; the yard is large. Wide of vision; narrow of purpose (name that movie).

Good advice for hosting any party is to keep it simple, then choose just a few signature touches.

Although my ambitious husband wanted to boil crawdads (HA!), food-wise we just provided basic burgers, dogs, etc. Folks brought dee-lish, dee-lish sides and desserts, and no one went hungry.

More exciting were the drinks. In addition to the beer, we offered margaritas, sweet tea, iced coffee, and agua fresca, aka watermelon juice! Mi suegra Sara gave us her top secret recipe. OK, here it is: watermelon, water, sugar. So easy and refreshing.

Decor was not much to speak of; my favorite purchase for this was a pair of vintage table cloths we found that morning from the antique store down the street, one of my favorite spots.

Also, I wanted to show you some of our lawn chairs perfectly suited for July 4: one of the projects my mom tackled when she visited a few months ago!

Before:

After:

[This picture doesn’t show very well the star punch out on the seat, or the ergonomic butt design that became more obvious once the chairs were cleaned up! So sixties! They’re very cool though.]

Friends asked what we did during Mom’s visit. I sat on the couch like a blob, watching her organize things in my house, I sat on my back steps and watched her plant flowers and vegetables, and I watched her paint these chairs for me! Great job, Mama!