Ocean Grove

The Houses are Alright (Family Too)…A View of Sandy From Tokyo

From this…

…to this…

…to this.

The Ocean Grove Fishing Club and pier are gone, as is the boardwalk. Houses in the south end of town are flooded and the dunes destroyed. Towards the north, businesses along the boardwalk have been smashed, including the new Day’s Ice Cream. But somehow, the north end dunes have survived and our house is dry.

We sat glued to CNN for 36 hours as they repeated the same news over and over. Anderson Cooper did his best to report from Asbury Park, one town north, at least for a little while. Blogfinger, the Ocean Grove blog was a key source of information. We felt extra powerless being so very very far away. We heard that water had breached the dunes and was running up and down the streets and that parts of the roof of the Great Auditorium had been blown away. But until the storm cleared, we did not know for sure that no one in town had been injured and whether our house – just 100 meters from the beach – was still standing. Happily, a friend went and checked and reported back. Our only damage? One of the upper windows in my daughter’s room had worked its way open, letting in some water. But the inexpensive roller shade was the only thing ruined. Thank goodness the Bennison valances weren’t finished!

Ironically, our beach cottage wasn’t our only home in an evacuation zone. We still have our NYC apartment in downtown Manhattan, rented to a lovely couple. It’s a small ground floor duplex apartment in a 19th century school building. The bedrooms are downstairs, English basement style, so below ground level with windows set up high in the walls. Never, in the almost 20 years we have owned it, has there even been an implication of flooding, but this storm was different. I lost touch with the tenants early on as power and cell towers went down. I combed all the New York news sources to try to discover which zones were flooding (we are on the edge of Zone B). I was equally as worried about that space but fairly confident that the over 100-year-old brick and cinderblock walls were game for anything. After the storm our tenants moved up town where they had cell service and reported the good news. Other than the no power below 39th Street, all was well. And an extra little twist? Our tenants are getting married in two weeks – in the Convention Center on the Asbury Park boardwalk!!!! So I was pretty worried about that venue for them too. The report on that is that it is still standing, although in what shape, we don’t know.

Best of all my parents and brother and his family are all well, although my brother lost two massive 100-year-old trees in front of his house, one of which smashed up his wife’s car. And this from my dad – gotta love how genki my parents are!

“This is the second day without power and we are doing fine, in fact I told mom we should go camping. We are doing better than most since I have that little generator so we have a small refrigerator going, two lamps in the living room, I connected the hot water heater to it since it has a power vent and we both took hot showers so we are good. There are no street traffic lights so driving js tricky. Everything is closed and it’s bizarre, have no clue when we will get power but I would estimate not til Saturday. The most difficult part was that I had the generator, two cars filled with gas and I bought a siphon so I could get the gas not knowing that in newer cars there is a valve that prevents siphoning. I went all over and could not find gas until I stopped a landscaper and told him I would give him $30 dollars for 2.5 gallons and presto I had gas.”

Truthfully, I was calm the entire time. Wet basements and some spoiled furniture might have been part of the bargain and I was prepared for that. In the end we are beyond fortunate as our loved ones and property are fine and we don’t have to manage through these next weeks with no power. Thank you to all our well wishers! Our hearts go out to those who are suffering.

Related Post:
The Porcelain is Alright (Kids Too)…My Tale of the Big Japan Earthquake

Image credits: 1. via Flickr , 2-3 Ryan Struck via The New Surf.

Summer Crafting…Paper Flowers and Paper Cuts

One of the best things about our charming beach town is the plethora of activities available all summer. From the Junior Lifeguard program, library book clubs, drop in tennis clinics, sand castle contests, movies on the beach, and regular fireworks to the crafting workshops sponsored by the local Historical Society, there is always something for the kids to do on any given day at any given time. On Monday, the girls and I participated in a wonderful paper flowers class, run by teacher and artist Laura McHugh on the lawn at Centennial Cottage in town. It was a glorious day – mid 80s and dry.

We learned how to make a number of kinds of paper flowers, including my favorites, made from vintage book pages, scrap booking paper and any other interesting ephemera – such as maps – that we had available. Both luck and my subconscious steered me towards making flowers in the soft colors of my downstairs rooms, and I am dying to figure out a way to use or display the big group above. Ideas anyone?

The basic technique was easy. A square paper was folded in a triangle, then folded again into a smaller triangle, and then the corners were folded back on each side to make yet a smaller triangle. A petal shape was cut into the top open edge of the triangles and voila, a flower upon opening. See the quick video tutorial below for details. We also used some flower punches and press rollers, all available at local craft stores, for some of our flower shapes, but I prefer being creative with the hand cut ones.

We also made classic Mexican tissue paper flowers, which I hadn’t done since I was a kid. Talk about easy and big bang satisfying! Hours of rainy day fun but we have even been continuing on sunny days! Check out the video tutorial below.

Hey, Felt So Cute, she’s hot on your trail to make the best headband ever!

Laura has written a great post on the class  – featuring lots of photos of my kids and their handiwork – which also gives a sense of the charm of the town. Take a look at her blog Vintage2Glam. We can’t wait for her July 25th class on macrame!

Last summer we did a paper cutting workshop with Mindy Shapiro that is being offered again this summer on July 27. Some friends were visiting and we all had a blast. I think she has a new project for her class this year, so we may just have to do it again.

The full calendar of events is attached here. It includes everything from this workshop to crazy quilting classes.

Reimagining the Interiors of 33 Surf Avenue


Throughout the time I have been away from Japan, I have been thinking a lot about my friends in Ocean Grove whose house burned on the same day as the earthquake hit here. In a town famous for the most ornate Victorians, with gull-wing roofs or turrets, their house, built in 1923, is a simple four-square Victorian with an arts and crafts style front porch, a pair of bay windows and a dormered attic floor. Like its owners, it is a warm and unpretentious house, always filled to the brim with guests, whether sitting on the porch or cramming around the dining room table. My friends have jumped quickly into the rebuilding process, starting to meet with architects, and I am sure they are not planning to build some kind of fancy faux Victorian, but instead an improved version of what they already had. As they start to plan the exterior, I thought it would be fun to help them along in envisioning what the inside might look like. To do so, I am going to be leaning on certain designers heavily, such as Tom Scheerer and Markham Roberts, whose wonderful relaxed beach and vacation houses fit the bill.

The colors of the interiors before revolved around a palette of blue, white and naturals like tan and brown – the colors of the beach, clouds and sky. I can’t see changing that as it fit the house and locale perfectly.  Starting at the arrival point, I am hoping for a similar front porch, with a beadboard ceiling and comfy chairs for happy hour, just as was there before.

One “flaw” of the previous house was the lack of an entryway as the front door opened directly into the living room. Perhaps the new design might make room for one, with space to hang hats and drop beach bags.

The living room had whitewashed paneled walls and I could see using beadboard or horizontal shipboard in rooms throughout the house. Most of the photos following have some, whether on the walls or ceiling. I also love the idea of some grasscloth to add texture. The original living room had a simple painted brick fireplace, a feature I would love to see kept. My friends also like having carpet in the living room, not as usual in a beach house, but actually practical and easy to keep clean.  A patterned one like this one would hide dirt and stains.

Sisal or seagrass would be a reasonable alternative to carpeting too.

Add comfortable upholstered furniture in straight forward shapes and simple bamboo blinds and plain or checked curtains at the windows.

A games table might be a nice feature to sneak in – great for extra diners too! And it is so easy to pick up inexpensive Victorian furniture with great lines along the Jersey shore.

The original dining room was my favorite room in the house with built-in china cabinets with glass doors, the backs of which were painted blue to highlight the contents. Simple Windsor style chairs circled an oval table.  This dining room with its Victorian chairs, white cabinet and painted table is quite similar.

Another view of the same dining room shows a simple Aesthetic Movement settee upholstered in a modern fabric.

Bentwood chairs could be another charming choice and a formica table is always practical, inexpensive and can be custom sized to fit any space.  But the key to this Tom Scheerer room is the scenic wallpaper, made from blowing up vintage images.

He does it again here, with a Nantucket feel and simple Windsor style chairs. My friends have a great Ocean Grove vintage postcard collection – I’d love to make a wallpaper out of one of the cards and use it in the dining room like Tom Scheerer does.

Kitchens are the budget busters of these kinds of projects. I am thinking straightforward white cabinets as it is easy to change the look down the road and a compact cooking area because we all do so much barbecuing.

I love the idea of color on the floor – here the wood is painted blue.

Perhaps the most practical solution in terms of care and cost would be a blue linoleum, much like the one used here. Black and white linoleum squares would be another classic choice.

I’m not sure there would be room for an eat-in table in the kitchen, but a built-in booth like this one…

…or this one, could be great.

One great feature of the old house was a small sun porch off the back. I’d love to see them keep a small space like this.  With so many guests, more bedrooms and more small spaces to get away to are always at a premium.

Bathrooms are super easy! Go with all white fittings and fixtures as they are clean, easy to care for, and always look fresh. Either beadboard with a bit of a country feel…

…or more 1920s. I am sure we could find some old photos like these at Shore Antique Center!

Perk up simple white hexagon tiles and a pedestal sink with broad painted stripes. Easy and inexpensive!

The master bedroom should be relaxed and comfortable, a haven of peace to escape from busy days and the demands of many guests. Beautiful fabrics on an upholstered bed set the mood here…

…and here…

…and here.

Vintage iron beds are also easy to find and have the right period feel. They are great for kids rooms as they are sturdy and easy to make. Love the little painted table here…

…and the painted chair here.

Attic bedrooms tucked under the eaves don’t even need much furniture, just a comfortable bed, some nice linens and a bit of color.

I’ll be curious to see if my vision in any way matches theirs…

Image credits: 1. via K. Woodruff, 2. design by Myra Hoefer in House Beautiful January 2009, 3, 5, 10, 11, 15 and 17. design by Tom Scheerer in House Beautiful August 2008 and April 2011, 4,8,9,16,21 and 23. design by Markham Roberts in House Beautiful August 2006 and October 2008, 6. design by Ashley Whittaker in House Beautiful February 2008, 7. design by Marshall Watson in House Beautiful September 2008, 12. designer unknown in Cottage Homes, 13, 18, 25 and 26. design by Gil Schafer in House Beautiful August 2007, 14 and 19. design by Alex Bates in Country Living June 2010, 20 and 27. design by Leslie Klotz in House Beautiful July 2008, 22. design by Tom Stringer in House Beautiful February 2008, 24. credit unknown.

Tokyo Jinja

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