Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Fell Into an Ebay Trance

Hollyreg1Okay, while I didn't indulge in any expensive furniture purchases--thank heavens--on Ebay, I did fall into an Ebay trance and bid on this "vintage" fabric. (Who knows if it's actually vintage.) I'm planning on either recovering my dining room chairs with it, or doing pillows, or putting it where many yards of fabrics already are: in a box under my bed!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Denim Disappointment

One word: Ugh. I got my shipment from Avenue with my Seven Seven dark rinse straight leg jeans. I had such high hopes. I shouldn't have been so naive! They did what many a pants have done before them--fit well in the hips/thighs, but gaped wildly around the waist. According to Avenue's instructions, I ordered a larger size than normal, so now I'm wondering if I went down a size...I don't think that will help that much. Sigh. All I want is a pair of nice-fitting dark wash jeans!


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I was given false hope last week when I saw Calvin Klein Jeans is now making plus sizes. I loved a pair of jeans I had when I was smaller, so I was pretty jazzed. I saw them in Macy's and was super excited, but I tried both styles (bootcut and flare), and both of these gaped so much in the back of my waist, I could of used that area to carry my lunch or something.


I suppose if finding a pair of jeans is my biggest problem, I should be so lucky, but why must it be so dang difficult?!

Object Yen: Posting Instead of Buying

60a6_2_2 I love all things Hollywood Regency, and one classic that I absolutely adore is Dorothy Draper's Espana chest. These can sell for as much as $4,000 and probably more. I saw a slightly worn one yesterday and today on Ebay and was tempted to bid, but realized that no matter what a deal, I couldn't afford it. Bidding just ended at $527.


X_5   While browsing other Draper chests online, I came across another of my dream pieces, a nightstand by George Nakashima. This has been something I've lusted after ever since seeing it in the October 2005 Metropolitan Home. (I was going to include my scan of this clip, but my scanner is NOT cooperating). See the one Dragonette has for sale now for $4,500.


Nakashima's designs are the essence of fine craftsmanship. He was wood-obsessed, and I can appreciate healthy obsession!


There are two exhibits in my native Pittsburgh area right now: "Nakashima Revealed" at Carnegie Mellon's Regina Gouger Miller Gallery through Oct 28 and "Nature, Form & Spirit" through Nov. 11 at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Ligonier (which, incidentally, is about 15 miles from where I grew up, and I never knew it existed! For shame!).


You can bet I'll be making another trip to my parents' before these exhibits close. If you have never been to Pittsburgh, make a weekend trip there sometime! I can suggest an itinerary, but if you wanted to take in the Nakashima exhibits, a nice nearby counterpart might be to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece Fallingwater.

Object Yen: Posting Instead of Buying

60a6_2_2 I love all things Hollywood Regency, and one classic that I absolutely adore is Dorothy Draper's Espana chest. These can sell for as much as $4,000 and probably more. I saw a slightly worn one yesterday and today on Ebay and was tempted to bid, but realized that no matter what a deal, I couldn't afford it. Bidding just ended at $527.


X_5   While browsing other Draper chests online, I came across another of my dream pieces, a nightstand by George Nakashima. This has been something I've lusted after ever since seeing it in the October 2005 Metropolitan Home. (I was going to include my scan of this clip, but my scanner is NOT cooperating). See the one Dragonette has for sale now for $4,500.


Nakashima's designs are the essence of fine craftsmanship. He was wood-obsessed, and I can appreciate healthy obsession!


There are two exhibits in my native Pittsburgh area right now: "Nakashima Revealed" at Carnegie Mellon's Regina Gouger Miller Gallery through Oct 28 and "Nature, Form & Spirit" through Nov. 11 at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Ligonier (which, incidentally, is about 15 miles from where I grew up, and I never knew it existed! For shame!).


You can bet I'll be making another trip to my parents' before these exhibits close. If you have never been to Pittsburgh, make a weekend trip there sometime! I can suggest an itinerary, but if you wanted to take in the Nakashima exhibits, a nice nearby counterpart might be to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece Fallingwater.

Starbucks Has It In for Me

Images3Starbucks is evil...and not because they're all corporate or whatever but because they KNOW I like black & white cookies and are prepared to force me to eat them despite my best efforts to avoid them. The Starbucks in Annapolis used to have them in the case, and it was everything I could do to not buy one and gulp it down when the going got tough. I was relieved, therefore, when I started my new job Downtown and none of the 3+ Starbucks in walking distance carried the cookies. Alas, yesterday, I walk in to get a half-caf (not following doc's orders as closely now) coffee and--do my eyes deceive me?--see a packet of two black & white cookies by the register. Apparently, they're something new. Why, Starbucks, why!?! I have so far avoided temptation. The one thing they have going for them is that for some reason, I find prepackaged B&Ws less appealing. Now, if they take them out of the packaging and put them on a plate or in a case, they become much more appealing to me, but in plastic, I'm less inclined to indulge. However, there are times when one gets very desperate...and I don't like knowing that they're so close at hand. Sigh.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ding Dong! Produce at Your Door

Image002I recently signed up for Washington's Green Grocer, a produce delivery service. For $35 a week for organic or $29 per week for conventional, you can have a small box of delicious mostly local produce delivered to your doorstep. While similar to a co-op in that you get regular deliveries of produce, in this case, you don't buy shares, and you can cancel any shipment or go bi-weekly. It's very flexible. The list changes weekly, and you can substitute things you like for things you don't like or add additional items to your list (even butter and other dairy products if you so desire). I got two boxes of produce so far (I went for the organic) and found the produce to be fresh, tasty, and not damaged (a concern--they were as nice as if I'd picked them out myself). I'll probably go to getting the deliveries bi-weekly, as I am having a hard time eating that much fruit (the veg is no problem, but I'm having a hard time with the fruit). Try them, you'll like them! They deliver to many places in DC, Maryland, and Virginia...ask if they deliver to you!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fat Fashion!

Amber over at "My Aim is True" has started a great feature called Fat Fashion Thursday. It features plus-size fashions. If you're a plus size, you understand how hard it is to find stylish fun fashions (witness, my travails this weekend, where I tried on about 3 outfits, got frustrated with the fit, and left the mall...), but every week, Amber's been dishing up fun outfits, and because she's vegan, the accessories are too! I know I've found some excellent sites I never knew about that I plan to peruse for fashions in the future!


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Favorite Things: Natalie Silitch

Shoppictures20001When I worked in Annapolis, one of my favorite things to do over lunch was to explore Natalie Silitch's delightful boutique on Maryland Ave. in Annapolis. Natalie makes folk art with delightful painted fabric mermaids (see photo), angels, snowmen, bunnies, you name it. But, what I loved about the shop was how it combined her art, other new things, natural items like shells and stones, and antiques. It was one of those places you go, and the arrangement of everything is so nice you'd like to eat it just so you could take it with you!


Shoppictures20018I don't own one of Natalie's pieces myself, though I did get my mom a rabbit for Easter. I have, however, bought many fun things at the shop. I got Liz a bunch of shells there. I also bought myself a cute paperweight with robin's eggs on it and a vintage 5 franc french cafe dish (and probably other things I'm forgetting). These are some of my favorite things! Both of these things, I "visited" for ages before buying. I finally bought the paperweight when it migrated to the sale section. The cafe dish I only bought after they Shoppictures20026_3 were offered singly (there had been a set of 3...too many dishes for me!) I'll share pictures of these lovelies later! (Not near them at the mo').


Definitely, if you're in Annapolis, check her store out on Maryland Avenue. There are several other cute shops nearby, including a fancy pet shop, a tea shop, other home decorating/antiques shops, City Dock coffee, and some art galleries. 


If you can't make it to Annapolis, Natalie's art is sold direct from her web site.

Favorite Things: Natalie Silitch

Shoppictures20001When I worked in Annapolis, one of my favorite things to do over lunch was to explore Natalie Silitch's delightful boutique on Maryland Ave. in Annapolis. Natalie makes folk art with delightful painted fabric mermaids (see photo), angels, snowmen, bunnies, you name it. But, what I loved about the shop was how it combined her art, other new things, natural items like shells and stones, and antiques. It was one of those places you go, and the arrangement of everything is so nice you'd like to eat it just so you could take it with you!


Shoppictures20018I don't own one of Natalie's pieces myself, though I did get my mom a rabbit for Easter. I have, however, bought many fun things at the shop. I got Liz a bunch of shells there. I also bought myself a cute paperweight with robin's eggs on it and a vintage 5 franc french cafe dish (and probably other things I'm forgetting). These are some of my favorite things! Both of these things, I "visited" for ages before buying. I finally bought the paperweight when it migrated to the sale section. The cafe dish I only bought after they Shoppictures20026_3 were offered singly (there had been a set of 3...too many dishes for me!) I'll share pictures of these lovelies later! (Not near them at the mo').


Definitely, if you're in Annapolis, check her store out on Maryland Avenue. There are several other cute shops nearby, including a fancy pet shop, a tea shop, other home decorating/antiques shops, City Dock coffee, and some art galleries. 


If you can't make it to Annapolis, Natalie's art is sold direct from her web site.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gorgeous Gorgeous Saturday

Saturday was gorgeous, and I wish every summer day was that nice. Fortunately, I planned to be outdoors, though I didn't plan the exact activity. I was waitlisted in the walk the Maryland Outdoor Club did that Erin went on. So, I planned to go to Great Falls after some searching online for some nice easy walks. 


P8180002_3 I started off with a hearty breakfast of blueberry pancakes.


Ted and Angela met me at my place and we set off.


First, we followed the tourists and checked out the falls. Always fun. You can't quite see the crazy kayakers in this shot (the little dot in the middle).


P8180006_3 


Afterwards, we did an easy 3 1/2 mile loop. About halfway through, you pass an abandoned gold mine. There's also a stretch where you follow an abandoned streetcar route.


P8180016


P8180019_2 


P8180018


The best part, by far, was the drinks we had afterward at the Irish Inn. As I was driving, I could only have one cider. We couldn't resist having some food too...all that "strenuous" hiking, you know!


P8180023 


After all that outdoors time, Ted and I topped off the day by meeting Liz for dinner alfresco at Cafe Berlin.

Gorgeous Gorgeous Saturday

Saturday was gorgeous, and I wish every summer day was that nice. Fortunately, I planned to be outdoors, though I didn't plan the exact activity. I was waitlisted in the walk the Maryland Outdoor Club did that Erin went on. So, I planned to go to Great Falls after some searching online for some nice easy walks. 


P8180002_3 I started off with a hearty breakfast of blueberry pancakes.


Ted and Angela met me at my place and we set off.


First, we followed the tourists and checked out the falls. Always fun. You can't quite see the crazy kayakers in this shot (the little dot in the middle).


P8180006_3 


Afterwards, we did an easy 3 1/2 mile loop. About halfway through, you pass an abandoned gold mine. There's also a stretch where you follow an abandoned streetcar route.


P8180016


P8180019_2 


P8180018


The best part, by far, was the drinks we had afterward at the Irish Inn. As I was driving, I could only have one cider. We couldn't resist having some food too...all that "strenuous" hiking, you know!


P8180023 


After all that outdoors time, Ted and I topped off the day by meeting Liz for dinner alfresco at Cafe Berlin.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Laundry Wonders Part Deux

Faulstainresist_4 While I'm on the topic of laundry products and what a slob I am, here's another product I recently tried. It's a spray starch for ironing, with a "stain resistance" substance built in. I bought it at Target this weekend from the same aisle as my Oxiclean Spray Away.


Let me explain. I hate ironing. I avoid doing it as much as I can. I used to iron once every few months or so, but recently, I have accepted that I must do it to look professional and put together. I eschewed my tiny tabletop ironing board in favor of a full-size one and set up camp with it and my iron in an over-the-door hanger so that I could avoid the inevitable avalanche of stuff from the closet with my laundry/cleaning supplies where I used to keep it (where its cord used to whip out and smack me in the face).


Before this weekend, I had more or less universally dismissed starch as old-fashioned and unnecessary in today's fast-paced digital society. However, I figured anything that could make ironing remotely more interesting for me for even a day was worth it. So, I am in day 2 of using this product and am pleased. Mainly, I love how it allows me to get the wrinkles out of my chinos more easily, but the stain resistance also seems to work. Yesterday, I dropped a piece of feta cheese with balsamic vinegar on my pants and there wasn't a mark. (This is not to be confused with my previously mentioned balsamic vinegar incident).


You can find out more about this, and other Faultless products, here.

Laundry Wonders Part Deux

Faulstainresist_4 While I'm on the topic of laundry products and what a slob I am, here's another product I recently tried. It's a spray starch for ironing, with a "stain resistance" substance built in. I bought it at Target this weekend from the same aisle as my Oxiclean Spray Away.


Let me explain. I hate ironing. I avoid doing it as much as I can. I used to iron once every few months or so, but recently, I have accepted that I must do it to look professional and put together. I eschewed my tiny tabletop ironing board in favor of a full-size one and set up camp with it and my iron in an over-the-door hanger so that I could avoid the inevitable avalanche of stuff from the closet with my laundry/cleaning supplies where I used to keep it (where its cord used to whip out and smack me in the face).


Before this weekend, I had more or less universally dismissed starch as old-fashioned and unnecessary in today's fast-paced digital society. However, I figured anything that could make ironing remotely more interesting for me for even a day was worth it. So, I am in day 2 of using this product and am pleased. Mainly, I love how it allows me to get the wrinkles out of my chinos more easily, but the stain resistance also seems to work. Yesterday, I dropped a piece of feta cheese with balsamic vinegar on my pants and there wasn't a mark. (This is not to be confused with my previously mentioned balsamic vinegar incident).


You can find out more about this, and other Faultless products, here.

Got Stains?

Yhst54645302932347_1962_1028636After what shall forever be known as "the Great Balsamic Vinegar Incident of 2007," (or the time Christine splashed vinegar on her newly dry cleaned white jacket), I thought I'd share a find. I love love love Oxiclean Spray Away. How much? Let's put it this way, on my last business trip, I used some of my precious carry-on liquids space for it and when I went to Target last weekend, I bought 4 containers.


I've used Shout wipes and Tide to Go as well as Gonzo in the past. None of these worked as well in my opinion. Of course, the wipes, you can probably get away with packing outside of the "liquids" bag, so that might be a consideration.


I found them online at this site, which sells them for $4.99 each or $6.99 for a 2-pack. Amazon.com has them for $3.39. The Rockville Super Target had them for $3.99. A great investment to keep your clothes spotless.

Got Stains?

Yhst54645302932347_1962_1028636After what shall forever be known as "the Great Balsamic Vinegar Incident of 2007," (or the time Christine splashed vinegar on her newly dry cleaned white jacket), I thought I'd share a find. I love love love Oxiclean Spray Away. How much? Let's put it this way, on my last business trip, I used some of my precious carry-on liquids space for it and when I went to Target last weekend, I bought 4 containers.


I've used Shout wipes and Tide to Go as well as Gonzo in the past. None of these worked as well in my opinion. Of course, the wipes, you can probably get away with packing outside of the "liquids" bag, so that might be a consideration.


I found them online at this site, which sells them for $4.99 each or $6.99 for a 2-pack. Amazon.com has them for $3.39. The Rockville Super Target had them for $3.99. A great investment to keep your clothes spotless.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What is the Fate of Small Businesses in America?

The article below is from the Boston Business Journal. Even though, as a part of my work, I understand the economics of why small businesses often can't continue to operate, it still saddens me. I love small shops, especially "functional" ones in cities like hardware stores and grocery stores, but I know that often, the land is just too valuable for these to continue to operate.


I feel strongly about supporting local businesses because I really do think they help the local economy more. Economic development has traditionally focused on large companies and large businesses. The jurisdiction makes concessions to the large business with the understanding that they will provide economic benefits exceeding the cost in new jobs, economic output, and attractiveness to additional spin-off businesses. However, the economy has changed. These larger companies aren't as secure as they used to be, and arguably, they never were. I think there's a general agreement in the economic development field that there is no such thing as a silver bullet, and progressive places are making attempts at stratifying their economic development strategies.


I think fostering local businesses makes sense because such a small amount can make a proportionally large impact. It's a lot like the micro-credit lenders such as the winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Relatively little money can make a large impact and little by little, change the world. And, understand, this was a private sector business, not a government giving loans or grants.


Cities have begun making provisos in development deals that require developers to put local businesses in their large mixed-use projects, but that doesn't really happen as much as the opposite does: national chains are brought in, and the development looks like Anywhere America. I read an article once that was very revealling about the concessions developers need to make to big boxes such as Target. The developers need them for their project because they are such a draw and bring customers for other businesses in the shopping center. But because the retailer is in such high demand and can go anywhere, it can often pay little rent and won't sign the traditional operating covenants that govern many other businesses.


I admit part of my affinity for small businesses is nostalgic and not rational. I remember when I was little, and we went to the corner market for a lot of things and chatted with the family that ran it. But I admit it: I shop at Target. I don't do all my shopping at local businesses. Why? For the same reasons other people do. Buying one roll of toilet paper at the corner market doesn't make good economic sense for me. I probably shop at local businesses more than the Average Joe (as you may have seen if you read my posting about grocery shopping) but even my level of support is probably not enough to justify having them in high-rent areas.


All in all, this diatribe is just to get my thoughts out there and maybe get people thinking a little...it's Monday...and I'm admittedly not all that lucid!


Old downtown hardware store's fate is up in the air


Retail and residential seen as possible uses for antiquated building

Boston Business Journal - August 10, 2007



W. Marc Bernsau
The Hardware Outlet Co. is an odd duck among the sleek office towers on High Street. After the death of owner Francis Ramacorti, his widow and the law firm in charge of the estate are trying to decide what to do with the property.


The Hardware Outlet Co. was more than just a dirty, disorganized sliver of a store where office workers could go to find random knickknacks for home repairs.

The store, which has been closed since the owner, Francis "Frank" Ramacorti died a year ago, was somewhat of a landmark in Boston given it was the home-improvement store in a district populated by the 9 to 5 crowd. Located in Boston's Financial District at 51 High St., the store gained notoriety for its unusual location and purpose.


Ramacorti also became known himself for his refusal to sell the property, which had caught the attention of many commercial developers eyes over the years.


Now his widow, Karen Ramacorti, and Ropes & Gray LLP -- the law firm in charge of the Ramacorti estate -- are trying to decide what to do with the property which is sandwiched between the 99 High St. tower and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority offices.


Karen, who resides in Reading, said she is in discussions with one hardware store operator who would like to lease the property but she has not made a decision about whether she will lease or sell the building.


Though the slender building is just shy of 12,000 square feet and is assessed at $916,600, it could be an attractive site for a small retailer, boutique company or even for residential uses, said David Begelfer, chief executive officer of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. Begelfer guessed that if sold, the property could garner approximately $1 million or possibly more depending on how many stories could be added to the four-story building. The lack of development sites in Boston, no matter how small, could also drive interest and price.


"The location is great, it's a relatively small building," Begelfer said. "You (could) own your own building, and that's rare in Boston."


Karen Ramacorti expects she'll make a decision by this fall and said although there are sentimental reasons to see the property continue as a hardware store, she acknowledged "it's not a very good business decision."


Her husband purchased the property in 1934 as a real estate investment and never intended to run the hardware store until the day he died. But Ramacorti knew a lot about hardware and repairs and grew to know his customers, said Karen. The store was so narrow that there was only one aisle up the center stacked from floor to ceiling with odds and ends.


"I think he had a lot of years invested in it and he liked it," said Karen Ramacorti. "A lot of people come in in the neighborhood ... it was almost like a social club."


Customers would come to poke around in the old, unconventional hardware store to find things they couldn't get elsewhere. Now the family is in the process of removing paints and pesticides from the building, which is stocked to the roof with hardware supplies. There are no family members interested in carrying on the hardware store's legacy, said Karen Ramacorti.


The closing of the Hardware Outlet is representative of more than just another small, family-owned business fading away or an antiquated piece of real estate ripe for redevelopment. It's symptomatic of what is happening to small businesses across the region and country, said Steve Adams, regional advocate for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Boston.


"This business is closing its doors not because they couldn't make it but because the owner died," said Adams. "This is a really interesting microcosm of what's going to happen all over the city and all over the region because small business (owners) have no plan after they retire or after they die."


Adams, who used to visit the "beat-up old hardware store," said he thought it was unlikely the store would continue as a hardware outlet, given the property's value.


Michelle Hillman can be reached at mhillman@bizjournals.com.

What is the Fate of Small Businesses in America?

The article below is from the Boston Business Journal. Even though, as a part of my work, I understand the economics of why small businesses often can't continue to operate, it still saddens me. I love small shops, especially "functional" ones in cities like hardware stores and grocery stores, but I know that often, the land is just too valuable for these to continue to operate.


I feel strongly about supporting local businesses because I really do think they help the local economy more. Economic development has traditionally focused on large companies and large businesses. The jurisdiction makes concessions to the large business with the understanding that they will provide economic benefits exceeding the cost in new jobs, economic output, and attractiveness to additional spin-off businesses. However, the economy has changed. These larger companies aren't as secure as they used to be, and arguably, they never were. I think there's a general agreement in the economic development field that there is no such thing as a silver bullet, and progressive places are making attempts at stratifying their economic development strategies.


I think fostering local businesses makes sense because such a small amount can make a proportionally large impact. It's a lot like the micro-credit lenders such as the winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Relatively little money can make a large impact and little by little, change the world. And, understand, this was a private sector business, not a government giving loans or grants.


Cities have begun making provisos in development deals that require developers to put local businesses in their large mixed-use projects, but that doesn't really happen as much as the opposite does: national chains are brought in, and the development looks like Anywhere America. I read an article once that was very revealling about the concessions developers need to make to big boxes such as Target. The developers need them for their project because they are such a draw and bring customers for other businesses in the shopping center. But because the retailer is in such high demand and can go anywhere, it can often pay little rent and won't sign the traditional operating covenants that govern many other businesses.


I admit part of my affinity for small businesses is nostalgic and not rational. I remember when I was little, and we went to the corner market for a lot of things and chatted with the family that ran it. But I admit it: I shop at Target. I don't do all my shopping at local businesses. Why? For the same reasons other people do. Buying one roll of toilet paper at the corner market doesn't make good economic sense for me. I probably shop at local businesses more than the Average Joe (as you may have seen if you read my posting about grocery shopping) but even my level of support is probably not enough to justify having them in high-rent areas.


All in all, this diatribe is just to get my thoughts out there and maybe get people thinking a little...it's Monday...and I'm admittedly not all that lucid!


Old downtown hardware store's fate is up in the air


Retail and residential seen as possible uses for antiquated building

Boston Business Journal - August 10, 2007



W. Marc Bernsau
The Hardware Outlet Co. is an odd duck among the sleek office towers on High Street. After the death of owner Francis Ramacorti, his widow and the law firm in charge of the estate are trying to decide what to do with the property.


The Hardware Outlet Co. was more than just a dirty, disorganized sliver of a store where office workers could go to find random knickknacks for home repairs.

The store, which has been closed since the owner, Francis "Frank" Ramacorti died a year ago, was somewhat of a landmark in Boston given it was the home-improvement store in a district populated by the 9 to 5 crowd. Located in Boston's Financial District at 51 High St., the store gained notoriety for its unusual location and purpose.


Ramacorti also became known himself for his refusal to sell the property, which had caught the attention of many commercial developers eyes over the years.


Now his widow, Karen Ramacorti, and Ropes & Gray LLP -- the law firm in charge of the Ramacorti estate -- are trying to decide what to do with the property which is sandwiched between the 99 High St. tower and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority offices.


Karen, who resides in Reading, said she is in discussions with one hardware store operator who would like to lease the property but she has not made a decision about whether she will lease or sell the building.


Though the slender building is just shy of 12,000 square feet and is assessed at $916,600, it could be an attractive site for a small retailer, boutique company or even for residential uses, said David Begelfer, chief executive officer of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. Begelfer guessed that if sold, the property could garner approximately $1 million or possibly more depending on how many stories could be added to the four-story building. The lack of development sites in Boston, no matter how small, could also drive interest and price.


"The location is great, it's a relatively small building," Begelfer said. "You (could) own your own building, and that's rare in Boston."


Karen Ramacorti expects she'll make a decision by this fall and said although there are sentimental reasons to see the property continue as a hardware store, she acknowledged "it's not a very good business decision."


Her husband purchased the property in 1934 as a real estate investment and never intended to run the hardware store until the day he died. But Ramacorti knew a lot about hardware and repairs and grew to know his customers, said Karen. The store was so narrow that there was only one aisle up the center stacked from floor to ceiling with odds and ends.


"I think he had a lot of years invested in it and he liked it," said Karen Ramacorti. "A lot of people come in in the neighborhood ... it was almost like a social club."


Customers would come to poke around in the old, unconventional hardware store to find things they couldn't get elsewhere. Now the family is in the process of removing paints and pesticides from the building, which is stocked to the roof with hardware supplies. There are no family members interested in carrying on the hardware store's legacy, said Karen Ramacorti.


The closing of the Hardware Outlet is representative of more than just another small, family-owned business fading away or an antiquated piece of real estate ripe for redevelopment. It's symptomatic of what is happening to small businesses across the region and country, said Steve Adams, regional advocate for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Boston.


"This business is closing its doors not because they couldn't make it but because the owner died," said Adams. "This is a really interesting microcosm of what's going to happen all over the city and all over the region because small business (owners) have no plan after they retire or after they die."


Adams, who used to visit the "beat-up old hardware store," said he thought it was unlikely the store would continue as a hardware outlet, given the property's value.


Michelle Hillman can be reached at mhillman@bizjournals.com.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Weekend of Wonders

Today, I was supposed to to go on a tour of the monuments with the Penn Design DC group. I actually had been looking forward to this. I allowed plenty of time to get there. I even got there early and had time to go to Starbucks. I sauntered over to Franklin Square where we were going to meet. We were going to meet at the Franklin statue because of Penn's connection with Franklin. Uh, except, where was the Franklin statue? There was none. Alas, there were no Penn Design alumni to be found, only a bunch of homeless people hanging out in the shade. Crap! I had the place wrong and now I was running perilously close to being late. I frantically called my brother and had him look up the email that had the directions. The group was meeting at the Franklin statue at 12th and Pennsylvania! (To give you a sense of direction, I was at about 13th and K).


Franklin_2 So, by the time I got to the Franklin statue that I never knew existed (it's in front of the Post Office Pavilion in case you're curious) and I looked suspicious to the 2 groups of friends there as I circled them trying to determine if they were on the tour or not. They weren't. It was pretty clear I missed them. But, I saw another person who clearly missed them too...and it just so happened it was a classmate, Pri. So, we spent the next hour just catching up.


After that, I decided to walk to "somewhere" to kill some time between then and 5:30 mass at St. Matthews. I decided to go to the National Portrait Gallery which is having an exhibit from the British Portrait Gallery. I did however stop midway to have some ice cream at Giffords. Flavor: Peanut Butter Cookies and Cream...delicious.


Img_1_2 The exhibit was pretty good. It had quite a few of my favorite British writers/artists featured, such as good ol' Bill Shakespeare. I highly suggest it! The normal collection is also very good, and the remodel made the facility really nice. Plus, you can't beat the price: free!


I made it to church barely in time. (Okay, late). Afterward, I decided to get groceries. The grocery situation in my house was getting pretty grim. I still didn't want to go, but did. I went to Whole Foods, which was supposed to make the shopping experience better, but it was, as expected, chaotic. I made the mistake of getting a normal cart (versus a basket or the cart that is essentially two baskets on top of each other). Not much room for maneuverability.


The funniest part was the very irate man who was standing with another man at the customer service desk. Apparently, he felt that this other man was purposely following him. Seeing the employees trying to placate him was pretty amusing, as was the fact that the place was packed, making it very likely that one would run into people and seem to be following them if one were to pay attention to that sort of thing.


I managed to get my groceries without being accused of stalking or other major incident. I went home and enjoyed the crab cakes and a corn and cilantro fritter I bought.


Okay, if my Sunday hasn't bored you enough, read on for Saturday! I spent the day with Erin, which was fun. We had breakfast at Corner Bakery (killer oatmeal with cranberries, currants, and nuts), hit Target for some needed supplies (I bought 4 oxyclean clean spray aways...they are heaven sent and hard to find), and took her dog Ferris to swim in the creek and then for a walk on the Capital Crescent Trail.


I also watched 3.5 netflix movies this weekend (2 of mine, 1.5 of Erin's). I got Walk the Line and La Dolce Vita. I really liked Walk the Line. Aside from loving Johnny Cash's music, I found the story really fascinating and the acting great (oh, and Joaquin Phoenix is hot which doesn't hurt). La Dolce Vita was spurred by my Fellini experience a few weeks ago at Leslie's. It was beautiful--the scenery and the craftsmanship. But, was it really enjoyable? I wouldn't say that. I wanted so much to understand it, so I started to go all English major on it...but that doesn't make for a fun "escape." The movies of Erin's that we watched weren't escapes either. Rabbit Proof Fence is about Australian aborigines who were taken from their mother and escape to return to her. It was engrossing, but somewhat depressing. Both of us were rather tired when we got to A Long Engagement, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have really liked it. I had a difficult time getting into the story, and it really shouldn't have been a difficult story to get into--a woman supposedly loses her fiance in World War I, but thinks he could still be alive...should be fairly captivating. Finished only half of that.


Well, there you have it! My weekend in a nutshell!

A Weekend of Wonders

Today, I was supposed to to go on a tour of the monuments with the Penn Design DC group. I actually had been looking forward to this. I allowed plenty of time to get there. I even got there early and had time to go to Starbucks. I sauntered over to Franklin Square where we were going to meet. We were going to meet at the Franklin statue because of Penn's connection with Franklin. Uh, except, where was the Franklin statue? There was none. Alas, there were no Penn Design alumni to be found, only a bunch of homeless people hanging out in the shade. Crap! I had the place wrong and now I was running perilously close to being late. I frantically called my brother and had him look up the email that had the directions. The group was meeting at the Franklin statue at 12th and Pennsylvania! (To give you a sense of direction, I was at about 13th and K).


Franklin_2 So, by the time I got to the Franklin statue that I never knew existed (it's in front of the Post Office Pavilion in case you're curious) and I looked suspicious to the 2 groups of friends there as I circled them trying to determine if they were on the tour or not. They weren't. It was pretty clear I missed them. But, I saw another person who clearly missed them too...and it just so happened it was a classmate, Pri. So, we spent the next hour just catching up.


After that, I decided to walk to "somewhere" to kill some time between then and 5:30 mass at St. Matthews. I decided to go to the National Portrait Gallery which is having an exhibit from the British Portrait Gallery. I did however stop midway to have some ice cream at Giffords. Flavor: Peanut Butter Cookies and Cream...delicious.


Img_1_2 The exhibit was pretty good. It had quite a few of my favorite British writers/artists featured, such as good ol' Bill Shakespeare. I highly suggest it! The normal collection is also very good, and the remodel made the facility really nice. Plus, you can't beat the price: free!


I made it to church barely in time. (Okay, late). Afterward, I decided to get groceries. The grocery situation in my house was getting pretty grim. I still didn't want to go, but did. I went to Whole Foods, which was supposed to make the shopping experience better, but it was, as expected, chaotic. I made the mistake of getting a normal cart (versus a basket or the cart that is essentially two baskets on top of each other). Not much room for maneuverability.


The funniest part was the very irate man who was standing with another man at the customer service desk. Apparently, he felt that this other man was purposely following him. Seeing the employees trying to placate him was pretty amusing, as was the fact that the place was packed, making it very likely that one would run into people and seem to be following them if one were to pay attention to that sort of thing.


I managed to get my groceries without being accused of stalking or other major incident. I went home and enjoyed the crab cakes and a corn and cilantro fritter I bought.


Okay, if my Sunday hasn't bored you enough, read on for Saturday! I spent the day with Erin, which was fun. We had breakfast at Corner Bakery (killer oatmeal with cranberries, currants, and nuts), hit Target for some needed supplies (I bought 4 oxyclean clean spray aways...they are heaven sent and hard to find), and took her dog Ferris to swim in the creek and then for a walk on the Capital Crescent Trail.


I also watched 3.5 netflix movies this weekend (2 of mine, 1.5 of Erin's). I got Walk the Line and La Dolce Vita. I really liked Walk the Line. Aside from loving Johnny Cash's music, I found the story really fascinating and the acting great (oh, and Joaquin Phoenix is hot which doesn't hurt). La Dolce Vita was spurred by my Fellini experience a few weeks ago at Leslie's. It was beautiful--the scenery and the craftsmanship. But, was it really enjoyable? I wouldn't say that. I wanted so much to understand it, so I started to go all English major on it...but that doesn't make for a fun "escape." The movies of Erin's that we watched weren't escapes either. Rabbit Proof Fence is about Australian aborigines who were taken from their mother and escape to return to her. It was engrossing, but somewhat depressing. Both of us were rather tired when we got to A Long Engagement, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have really liked it. I had a difficult time getting into the story, and it really shouldn't have been a difficult story to get into--a woman supposedly loses her fiance in World War I, but thinks he could still be alive...should be fairly captivating. Finished only half of that.


Well, there you have it! My weekend in a nutshell!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Anglomags

P8060014_4 I hate Mondays. Most people don't like them, right? I walked in my office, clutching the makings of salad for the week, high heels to replace the flip flops I was wearing, and a decaf (yeah, I know...doctor's orders) coffee from Starbucks. And, among the papers on my desk, what did I find, but a rare treat: a British homes magazine!


I knew who it was from...a superior of mine who had bought it several weeks ago. I expressed how much I like British home magazines, and he said "Well then I'll pass it on you to when I'm finished." And he did!


P8060017_2 I first discovered this great love of my life when I was, wherelse, England! My friend Genevieve and I used to swoon over Country Living. I don't know exactly what it is, but they are quite different from American homes magazines. Every room and photo makes me want to sit down in the room.


A relatively recent favorite is Living, Etc. I think it matches my design sensibilities perfectly--modern, but with a comfortable edge. While I admire all those austere minimalist rooms, I could never live there. There would be no incorporation of many of my favorite tidbits I've picked up over the years.


My only frustration is that I can't go to the many shops they feature or find the products listed. I guess it just makes any potential future visits to the U.K. that much more special.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Birthday Surprise!

I received a nice surprise in the mail last week...a package! And the great thing about urban living is that my suspense was heightened because I had to go to the post office to pick it up. On the way there, I asked my mom if she sent me something (she often sends little things), and she said no. I could hardly wait as I stood at the counter waiting for the postal worker to look for the package. When it finally got to the counter, I saw that it was from my cousin Leigh! It was a nice bright yellow box with a cute sticker of the Capitol building on it (which Leigh told me she had to implore the people at the post office to NOT cover up with their own "priorty mail" stickers).


I didn't want to open it at the bus stop or on the bus. Good thing, because the bus was really crowded, and I had to stand. That day, I packed my gym clothes in my car so that I could drive straight to the gym. I did open the package once I got to the gym parking lot, and this is what I found!


Giftbox


It was a box of tea-liciousness. A belated (but still very much welcome) birthday gift! A cool glass cup and saucer, a tea measuring spoon, the Book of Tea, and 2 teas. Leigh also included stickers that reminded her of our sticker books as kids...I love stickers even now!!!! I also got a packet of marigold seeds...don't know if my landlord would appreciate me planting those. Maybe I'll put them in a pot. Also note the cute nautical ribbon!


The tea she bought me is from a company I'd never heard of called Tea Gschwendner. They're the "Book of Tea" people which is essentially their catalog of tea with information about all the kinds of tea. The teas I got are spicy--Rooibush Ginger and Green Tea Spicy Orange. I had a pot of the Rooibush Ginger, which was de-li-cious. I haven't tried the other one, but I am sure I will love it, because I always love orange spice tea.


Thanks, Leigh...it was really a treat!