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Freaky Fridays

Welcome to Freaky Fridays where I post links to the odd and the fantastic. Thank you to my friends, especially Sally and Arthur, who sent me pure gold this week. Have a weird news story? Send it to dearmisshavisham@gmail.com

Take a look inside the famous Witch House of Beverly Hills showcased on Los Angeles Magazine.


Perhaps you are in the market for a gift for that very special someone. May I suggest a haunted doll?  You can have a child, teen, or adult spirit. Please please please read the reviews; they’re pure gold like this one:

“My first haunted doll is named Bonnie. I bought from AJ’s haunted doll store. She is a fine spirit, sometimes active sometimes not. I guess it all depends on her mood (AJ knows why). We have experienced electric disturbances and sounds during the night.”

Tell us why, AJ! Tell us whyyyyyyy. Also a quick Ebay search turned up a whole army of haunted dolls for sale as well. I guess it’s a thing.

I found this little nugget at a flea market and she is truly the stuff of nightmares.


Does your figure belong to a different decade? Are you a 1920’s pixie or a 1950’s bombshell trapped in skinny jean hell? The eagle eyes at We Sew Retro have compiled The Vintage Sewing Nerd’s Guide to Netflix” and it’s decade by decade up through the 1960’s. Now you can indulge in all the period dramas you want. Not only that, they also have great tips for sewing.


By now we’ve all heard that Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine but back in the day, lots of regular old products contained shocking ingredients. This drug meant to calm down the elderly that I found on Dose is actually an anti-psychotic. This ad, my god this ad…


But early medicine didn’t stop with dosing the very young and very old with heroin and cocaine, check out these bizarre historical headache cures from long long ago on mentalfloss. Who doesn’t want to take a bath with an eel?


Like ice cream? Like cod? Try the Creamed Cod Ice Cream from George’s Portobello Fish Bar in London. For a more complete list of novelty ice cream flavors from around the world, I direct you to the one, the only, Zagat’s.


Earthlings, we come to you from the future…or central Europe. Monuments that baffle and delight on Crack Two.


Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) was used to enlarge the pupils of Italian renaissance women for beauty’s sake.  It’s also likely the drug that made Juliet appear dead in Romeo and Juliet. Healthline discusses the medicinal and deadly uses of belladonna also known as The Devil’s Berry. It goes to show you that interesting facts lurk everywhere, even your health website. Isn’t the internet delicious?


Pretty sure the headline says it all: Woman Wakes Up to Exotic Animal Caressing Her. Ahhhh Florida.


Knitted dissected animals? Sure.


And finally, I leave you to do a little soul searching. Take the “What famous serial killer are you” quiz at the Crime Museum website. I got Delphine Lalaurie who was truly monstrous.


Happy Friday!


The Lady of Chetstone Manor

For several years when I was growing up we lived in the old rickety house that my great grandparents bought when they first arrived from Lebanon in the early 1900’s. The house was big, rambling and full of dark wood and chandeliers. I’m fairly certain that aesthetic imprinted itself on me because now all I want is a creepy old house with dark wood and a chandelier in every room.

These days I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at houses both in real life and online. I can’t turn down an open house sign and I’ve probably bookmarked hundreds of victorians, gothic revivals, and italianate houses for you know…one day. Here are a few beauties:




One of my favorite websites to browse old houses, many of which are for sale, is Old House Dreams. You can search by state, style, price range and whether or not they’re for sale. Most of the affordable ones are in rural places, small towns, places off the grid. You can search castles, barns, and firehouses. There’s a category for anything old and creepy.

Old House Dreams led me to Chetstone Manor in New Haven, Connecticut, otherwise known as my dream house or …one of them. Chetstone was built in 1875 by New Haven’s first lady physician, Dr. Mary Blair Moody. The second owner, Albert Haasis, a chemist and executive of the Dixon Pencil Company, was an art and gardening enthusiast. He kept lavish gardens filled with peacocks. He also painted Alice in Wonderland type bunnies on the walls of the attic. He was my kind of guy.


The current owner, Ian Christmann, is a photographer and New Haven native and honestly, the nicest guy ever. I had the privilege of touring the house and I can assure you, the bunny paintings are magnificently macabre. The attic and tower are also astounding. I can imagine spending my days writing up in the tower room as the wind whips through the bell tower. Just me and the ghost of Albert Haasis hanging out, talking peacocks. There’s also a fully operational rope elevator which I didn’t get in but it did fill my head with horror movie scenes (and I mean that in the most complimentary way). The basement is massive and appropriately terrifying. I am in love. I haven’t found too many houses as well preserved as this one.

The crazy thing about Chetstone is that it’s around the corner from an adorable carriage house that Tim and I looked at maybe 8 years ago. We didn’t end up buying the carriage house, but as fate would have it, the carriage house is the original one to the Chetstone property! There’s even a path with a gate from the main house to the carriage house where they used to drive the carriages. I tell you we are meant to own Chetstone one day. Here’s a picture of the carriage house from google maps:


Chetstone is a passion project for Ian and his wife. They’ve meticulously restored the house and made period authentic upgrades. He also created a photography and art collective there. The photos you see of Chetstone were taken by Ian. I love you, Chetstone. One day we’ll be together…one day.

I also found this beauty on Old House Dreams. It’s maaaassssive and one of the first poured concrete houses in the country.


Here’s the description from the site, “‘Boulderberg Manor,’ outstanding c.1858 Hudson River Gothic Revival overlooking the river and features beautifully restored period details including exuberant decorations on many of the ceilings. This 8,500 sq.ft. home was built by industrialist Calvin Tomkins and has the distinction of being the largest poured concrete structure in New York State at the time with 2 ft. thick exterior walls. Its slate roof was recently fully restored. Boulderberg Manor is a fine example of 19th century romanticism as a fortress perched on 4.5 acres with gazebo and cottage. Architectural distinctions include high pitched gable roofs with multiple dormers, cupola, oriel windows, fountain, 10 marble fireplaces, ornate moldings/doors, mahogany staircases and more. The 4.5 acres is inclusive of three lots, one with house and two building lots. The property is located 30 miles from New York City and 6 miles from the Bear Mountain Bridge. About a 50 minute drive from Manhattan. Extraordinary.” I’ll say it is. Who wants to buy it with me? Kickstarter?

If you are truly interested in owning a historic home, you can also check out the National Trust for Historic Preservation. They post houses that are for sale and in danger of being destroyed. Be warned though, owning a home that’s registered as historic can often present problems. Renovations need to be historically accurate and sometimes even approved by a committee. Make sure you do your research.

Another great resource is Circa especially if you are lucky enough to own an old home already. They’re not only a website and portal for real estate, they’re also a magazine and should be your go to for all your historic house questions. I can spend hours on Circa looking up the meaning of this or that architectural feature or before and after photos of historic preservations. Started by Elizabeth Finkelstein, an historic preservationist and self proclaimed old house junkie, the site is a more holistic look at historical homes and the characters who love them. Circa proudly proclaims they’re “Not Your Grandmother’s Old House” and I think that’s why I love them. They clearly understand that you can renovate an old house to meet your modern needs and still preserve the integrity of the structure and its history at the same time. Hey Circa, let’s have tea sometime.

Tim and I will continue to discuss the pitfalls and merits of owning an old house like the ones I’ve showcased here (Chetstone, Tim. CHETSTONE!). Until the day comes when I am the lady of Chetstone Manor, I will have to content myself with going to the Heritage Square Museum here in Los Angeles. The city moved a few Victorian homes to the location to preserve them and you can wander around and look at the houses. Check out their site for upcoming events, you can take a gardening class, have tea, or go to one of their movie nights. I attended a seance there a year back and while I didn’t succumb to possession, the buildings are beautiful as you can see from the photo below. I’ll definitely be attending the Halloween/mourning tours and horror movie series. I also won’t be missing their historical fashion show and tea this April. Maybe I’ll see you there.






Wide World of Wallpaper

The wallpaper in my room growing up was a yellow metallic damask and I hated it. I covered every inch of it with posters and pages ripped out of magazines. It felt old and creepy. I guess you can take the girl out of the wallpapered room but the pattern is still burned in her brain because now I can’t get enough creepy wallpaper.

Oh but there was a time not that long ago when I couldn’t have my heart’s desire. It’s natural that when you rent you dream of wallpaper. Visions of damask and toile would dance in my head but alas, those walls were not mine to adorn. I’d paint…or more accurately Tim would paint and honestly, he’d do a pretty good job of approximating the texture I wanted. Still, my heart yearned for wallpaper. This deer deserved damask damnit:


When we were looking for a house to buy in LA, we stumbled upon one house that hadn’t been touched since the late 60’s and was owned by a little old French couple. They were adorable but the house needed way too much work. We passed on the house but just as we were leaving the agent opened the door to the laundry room and said, “I think you should see this.”

Inside I found floor to ceiling psychedelic foil wallpaper glowing in all its metallic splendor. If I could have bought just that room I would have. I gasped, I grabbed Tim’s arm and in that moment I knew that although this house wasn’t for us, I too would one day have a wallpapered laundry room. Here are a few of my favorite wallpapers.

My number one wallpaper company is Timorous Beasties. London based, Timorous Beasties offers one of the best collections of flora and fauna which is my personal favorite style of wallpaper lately. They also offer fabric and a limited run of bespoke furniture pieces. Here are a few of my favorites from their site, definitely check out their more avant-garde offerings too:


I actually saw the large print version of the Iguana paper (above) at Perch in downtown LA. I’d been coveting it for months and there it was in real life. It’s too large a print for my walls but someday…someday.

And if by chance you are homesick for New York, there’s their New York toile (sniff).


I even like this one. Oh no, darling, no one died. It’s just art. It’s called Bloody Empire:


So yeah this one is definitely in the avant-garde category. I’m not sure where I’d actually use Bloody Empire but it sure makes a statement, no? Miss Havisham approves.

Another great source is Walnut Wallpaper here in LA. They’re also online. Here are a few of my favorites from their site:


But I’m not all doom and gloom, guys. I also love Pip Studio. They also offer fabric and home decor. It doesn’t get happier than these:


Even Anthropologie is getting in the wallpaper game:


And Deyrolle in Paris has released a line of taxidermy inspired wallpapers which I am wild for. They are hard to find and order online because well, they’re French and can’t really be bothered. I love them all the same, maybe even more.


This is just the tip of the iceberg.  I haven’t even touched on the great mid mod patterns, the art deco ones I’m eyeing, or yes, the yellow damasks. I’ll save those for another post. Until then, I’ll leave you with the pattern I picked for our laundry room from Graham and Brown. It’s metallic. It’s blue. It’s mermaids. It’s not up yet but there are two rolls in my closet waiting. Anyone have a good wallpaper hanger in LA?


Freaky Fridays

Welcome to Freaky Fridays where I post links to the odd and the fantastic. Thank you to my friends, especially Sally and Bronwen, who send me pure gold. Have a weird news story? Send it to dearmisshavisham@gmail.com

Victorian Cat Funerals? Yes please. Check out Mimi Matthews’ site.


Wanna buy George Washington’s hair?  A mourning ring with a lock of his hair is for sale at Sotheby’s. Just think, we could clone him!


Premature burial, oh it happened and The Paris Review wants you to think about it.

C. H. Eseinbrandt coffin
C. H. Eseinbrandt coffin

Dreamy collection of vintage photos that make you say, hmmmm on Black and WTF. I love this one:


Frozen Charlotte dolls, a cautionary tale for winter from the brilliant Dangerous Minds site.


Happy Friday!

Golden Boys and Silver Spoons: Flea Finds

Sunday was the ideal cool and overcast day for a pale girl to do the rounds at the Long Beach Antique Market. I wasn’t the only lady who thought so, the lovely Dita Von Teese was also in attendance looking stylish in a black circle skirt, pointed flats, and tiny vintage sunglasses. Hey girl, I love your style. Now please, Dita, tell me the brand of your sunblock, girlfriend to girlfriend.

I actually prefer the Long Beach Antique Market to the Rose Bowl because Long Beach is all antiques, it’s smaller, and often the weather is just as it was on Sunday, perfect. I usually end up finding something that makes me smile. This weekend I got a little more than I bargained for, quite literally.

The day started off innocently enough with this vintage stove fella from Antique Stove Style. He’s at Long Beach pretty much every month and restores these beauties himself. One day, yes one fine day I’m going to get one.


I just found this pink one on his facebook page. I’m in love.


The fun continued with minikins because maybe you are in need of some undies from the 1950’s? Gently worn…and why is there a marionette on the box? I like her style too.


Love gumballs? Love strippers? I have just the thing for you. A vintage gumball dispenser with a special surprise. A girl’s gotta work. The glass was a little steamy…

Next, I went a little silver teaspoon crazy. The details, the patina, the price…I had to have them all. I have no regrets because if you do stumble upon antique silver, even piecemeal like these, you must grab it up. They just don’t make patterns like these anymore and they’re easy to clean up if you really insist on removing the glorious tarnish.


Then I found this temple necklace at a booth with Thai imported antiques. I’m not sure of its age but it’s quite heavy. Thailand holds a special place in my heart because we spent our honeymoon there, so I bought it. No regrets there either.

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Just as we were leaving the Thai booth, my eye caught a glimpse of a small object that looked a lot like a tiny baby skeleton. “For good luck,” the guy at the booth told me. It appeared to be made of clay. I bought it and took it home. Little did I know what I had bought and the responsibility I’d just assumed.

It seems I have purchased a Kumon Thong or a “Golden Boy” which is a little more complicated than being just “for good luck.” In all fairness the guy at the booth did hand me a printout from Wikipedia but it certainly wasn’t the whole story. A little digging on the internet turned up a very gruesome tale. Apparently what I have is a talisman made from the dirt of seven cemeteries. The talisman is said to have the trapped spirit of a dead boy inside it. When you take the Kumon Thong home with you, you are essentially adopting this child, a ghost child, and if you treat your ghost baby well he will grant you very good things.

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Atlas Obscura has a great article on the tradition, “Caring for these statues has its own set of guidelines, requiring the owner to place it on a shelf and to offer it cups of milk and sweet drinks. Kuman thong are allegedly able to see and hear for a distance of 20,000 kilometers, giving ample protection to any household. Occasionally, however, the kuman thong are believed to be tricksters, with a particular fondness for teasing small children. When this happens, the owner is supposed to chastise the spirit by striking it lightly with a wooden rod while speaking to it in a stern tone. When someone is no longer able to care for a kuman thong in the proper fashion, he or she can dispose of it at a temple.” There, the monks must perform a series of rites to release the spirit from the talisman otherwise he stays with you and from the accounts I’ve read on the internet, you don’t want him to be angry.

The legend of the original Kumon Thong is gory and the occult practice of creating and worshipping them just as gory. It’s black magic. It has its roots in murder, revenge and necromancy. It wasn’t that long ago that Kumon Thong were made from actual stillborn babies. If you’d like to read the full (and I must warn, very disturbing) history of the Kumon Thong, click here.

So yeah, that’s in my house now, guys. So far I’ve followed the rules except for the first two days when he was still in the box and I didn’t know what he actually was (sorry, little buddy). He will supposedly visit us in our dreams and tell us if he’s happy or not. We’ll see what happens. There is a Thai temple near my house though…you know…just in case. Stay tuned.




Going Native


When I lived in Brooklyn I had a teeny tiny container garden (above). I’d lovingly haul water out to my terrace every day and meticulously examine each potted plant for signs disease or general discontent. I’d fantasize about the day when I’d have a yard with a garden. Fast forward to me moving cross-country to Los Angeles and getting my wish.

Now we have a house of our own with yard a-plenty in scorching North Hollywood and I’ve learned that there is a world of difference between east coast container gardening and west coast yard gardening. I needed schooling so signed up for California native gardening classes at the Theodore Payne Foundation. Theodore Payne’s design courses are fantastic and they often have special lecture offerings on top of their standard design and maintenance classes. I’ve taken the “Three Part Design” course twice. Over the course of a few weeks you create a design for your property and then the class and teacher critique it and help steer you in the right direction. All the teachers are great but I highly recommend the brilliant Andreas Hessing of ScrubJay Studios. Andreas is a purist; he only designs California native gardens.  If you are lucky enough to be invited to his home and see what he’s done with his own property, you’ll see why he’s one of the best designers in LA. Here are a few photos of his own garden below.




I’ve also fallen in love with the Las Pilitas website which has a wealth of information on individual plants and also offers plant suggestions for your zip code, soil type, and watering preferences. The predominant message is: go native or go home.

You do not enter the state of California without being schooled on the importance of water and energy conservation. I’ve joked that everyone is handed a bushel of kale and a Prius when they cross the California border and that’s not really all that far off. Theodore Payne also turned me on to the lawn removal rebate through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. I applied and was almost immediately approved for it. The city will essentially reimburse you for the cost of removing your water sucking lawn and replacing it with drought tolerant plants, permeable mulch, and pathways up to a certain amount. Applying is easy and I know that other areas such as Burbank have comparable programs. Make sure to read the rules carefully and don’t start removing your lawn before you have applied and are approved. Free money to landscape with!

Removing a lawn properly, however, is no easy task. You must first remove all the existing turf. For me, with over 7000 sq ft of verdant majesty, this proved daunting. The most efficient way is to rent a turf cutter or hire someone to remove it for you, I chose the latter. Finding someone in LA who removes turf professionally took some doing. Most landscape folks don’t typically do this work. After a few estimates and a lot of research, I finally went with Bottoms Up Gardens and in one single day the entire 7000 plus sq. ft. of turf were gone and the yard covered in organic mulch which is the perfect blank canvas. Gwyny Pett and her team at Bottoms Up are charming, efficient, and knowledgable. They stand by their turf removal and even came back to my house a few weeks later to dig up a few stubborn patches that returned free of charge. Here are a few pictures of our yard, still very much in progress. From lawn to wildflower mayhem which is only the beginning. We are about to go into the peak season for native gardens and wild flowers and I have some big plans.

After removing the turf, it’s ideal to kill all the existing seeds so that your grass won’t re-germinate. The greenest way to do this is through solarization or baking the area under clear plastic for two months. The best time to start is late July through mid September when the temperatures are highest. First, dig a trench around the area you want to solarize then cover the area with clear plastic and dump the earth back into the ditch, trapping the edges of the plastic down to create a tight seal. After two months of baking in the sun, most seeds will be done for. Sadly, I started my lawn removal too late in the season to solarize so I occasionally still need to weed a few patches to keep the grass from coming back. For a more comprehensive step by step, take the “Look Ma, No Lawn” class at Theodore Payne.

Stay tuned for the evolution of our garden and my successes and failures with California natives and other drought tolerant plants. Now I just need to convince Tim to get a goat or two.