Adventure Inn “shelfies”: I was wise to a hot trend in photography without knowing it


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The top of a wringer washer, baskets and a ceramic owl

High shelf at Sandy Cottage. Image by cottage guest John Greilck, a Detroit News staff photographer.



A Wall Street Journal article this past week about “shelfies” made me rejoice: Finally, I’ve been ahead of a trend. That has never happened before. And as you get older, you do start to worry that you’re falling further and further behind, for example when Brian Williams is fake-rapping to the beat of  a song you never heard of — and the song dates to 1979.

Fruit in to-go cups with granola and warm mini-muffins

Edible shelfie: A breakfast-to-go for early-departing guests.

The top headline on the Wall Street Journal real estate section proclaimed “The Rise of the Shelfie: Instagram’s Next Craze.” I haven’t yet succumbed to the charms of Instagram, but upon reading the definition, I realized that I had dozens of qualifying images among my photographs. I just hadn’t shared most of them, until now.

Shelfies — a term so new that as I write AutoCorrect keeps changing the word to “shelties”  — are defined in the article as: “portraits of one’s taste… a twist on selfies, hopeful bids for attention in which one’s aesthetic and one’s ego overlap.” A photo taken by a New Yorker named Alice Gao of a teapot on a tray with some quince blossoms had 13,791 “likes” on Instagram as of the WSJ deadline. A coffee-table book of shelfies is about to be published.

Photographing our stuff in artful arrangements could be a whole new way of killing time instead of writing my novel.

Let’s see, we have about 50 Steinbach nutcrackers, some for every season, the entire Clive Cussler oeuvre, and don’t get me started on the pallets-full of Lionel trains in bright orange boxes in the basement.

Tulips in a bunny vase with brass candlesticks

Bunnies and Baldwin Brass on dining room table

I must have a dozen Baldwin Brass candlesticks, not including the ones on loan to my mother, all of them dating from the days when Baldwin Brass forged its products in Reading, PA, and gave them the famous “Lifetime Finish.”

Incidentally, in 2004, Baldwin Brass was acquired by Black & Decker, which discontinued home decor items in favor of door knobs and other necessities. The forge was shut down. Any Baldwin Brass candlesticks made after that date are sand-cast in China. Not the same.

But I digress.

When and if shiny brass objects come back into fashion, I’ll be all set.

A photograph of lovers on the Seine by Peter Turnley

A photograph by Peter Turnley in our dining room.

This, above, is the only Instagram-like photo in my collection, (So far.) As a former photo editor for newspapers and books, I’m not a fan of applying filters to perfectly good photos. But this wasn’t a good photo, just a snapshot I always intended to send as a thank you to Peter Turnley, and it looked better when I muted the roses. Peter had photographed in black-and-white and framed this intimate scene along the Seine, and he gave it to us when we visited him in Paris on our honeymoon. That was 31 years ago. Maybe I did send him the thank you. Then again, perhaps I was too shy to send an inferior image to someone who became famous.  To partially atone, I’ll end this post with a plug for his latest book, French Kiss.

Enjoy my shelfies.

Little pumpkins, apple-cinnamon muffins and some acorn napkin rings I made.

We made these apple-cinnamon breakfast muffins only once because I felt guilty about varying from our standard of making baked goods from scratch. The dough is made from Pillsbury Grands, which must be popular because when I asked a clerk if the grocery carried them, she looked at me as if I must come from another planet.

Fall roses and burning bush

This indoor-outdoor shelfie combined some of that season’s last roses with a nice view of a temperamental burning bush. Temperamental in that it sometimes refuses to turn red, which is the only reason for planting a burning bush.

Shelf of items from World War II

When the house that is now Adventure Inn belonged to my father-in-law, a World War II veteran, we lined the walls of a small bedroom with tongue-and-groove pine — as a reimagined barracks, with bunk beds — and displayed items he wore in, carried in or brought home from the war. This shelf includes a little book of draft board humor, a zippered leather pouch in which Nick Sr. carried love letters, a notebook, pencil and tiny prayer book, his Purple Heart, and a 50-mm bullet that someone made into a cigarette lighter.

Book and roses on a table in the Toy Box room at Adventure Inn

I took this photo because I was excited by how well the Koko Loko roses looked in the Toy Box. I had chosen that rosebush only because of the quirky name. With a couple exceptions here and there, horizontal space in our guest rooms is reserved for guests’ stuff. That’s a tip I picked up before we opened our B&B — 2005! how time flies — after visiting a couple cluttered B&Bs whose rooms had no place for a guest to put things.

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