Ashley, idea woman extraordinaire, lives in Brooklyn with her pup, Elliott, just a stones throw from The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, one of her brain children. She is also the creator of The Matzo Project and the kids’ band The Jimmies.
Just like her ideas, Ashley’s home is eclectic and full of personality, and every object has a story behind it.
What’s with the light bulb piñata in your bedroom?
My business partner, Jonathan, made it for me because people call me The Idea Man. Every apartment from here on out has to have a high-ceiling requisite, or I’ll have nowhere to put it!
A few years ago, Jonathan made a giant, heart-shaped piñata for my drummer’s wedding in the Dominican Republic. We filled it with Ring Pops and Red Hots and wax lips and candy hearts. I wore extra mascara and got to the airport three hours early in preparation for them giving me a hard time bringing it on the plane, but here’s a tip – curbside check-in hides a multitude of sins.
(Order your own custom piñata from The Pinata Builder.)
Where did your talking Yoda come from? What has been his wisest message?
It’s probably from a closeout store somewhere. There are very few things I love more than a closeout store. I’m not talking about a 99 cent store, I’m talking about Jack’s World or Christmas Tree Shop. The sort of store where you’d be just as likely to pick up a case of cupcake-flavored ginger beer as a remote control heating pad. It’s like a graveyard of bad ideas.
Despite his humble beginnings, here’s the thing you need to know about my Yoda – he’s very powerful. The rule in my house is that you don’t ask him a question that you don’t want the answer to.
What’s the story behind your How To Be A Jewish Mother book?
That book is the BEST. It’s amazing how sharp and relevant it is, forty years after it was written. It belonged to my Matzo Project partner Kevin Rodriguez’s Grandma Rita. He found it on her bookshelf next to a book on Jewish Genealogy, which he was very happy to find Rodriguez in! It made its way back up to New York from Florida in his suitcase and then he accidentally left it at my house. Don’t tell him I have it.
Who’s the man in the uniform?
I had a $250 credit to this really fancy store in Union Square years ago. It went out of business abruptly, before I managed to cash in my credit. Every time I walked past, I would push my face up against the dusty glass and stare into the rubble of discarded decorative items, cursing myself for not using the credit when I had the chance.
Then, one day, I saw movement inside! I knocked on the door and a construction guy came out. I explained my plight and asked him if I could just run in and grab something – anything – so that I wouldn’t beat myself up every time I walked by for the rest of my life. He said, “Make it quick,” so I dashed in and grabbed the first thing I saw: an old, framed drawing of some sort of sailor guy. That had to be 10 or 15 years ago, and he’s been with me ever since.
(Find your own random vintage photos on Etsy.)
What’s the meaning behind this cheeky needlepoint?
It’s one of my most prized possessions. It hung for years and years in my grandparents’ house and NO ONE but me ever noticed that my grandmother had subtly and hilariously hacked the design until I pointed it out while we were sitting shiva for her. I took it with me when I left that night and never set foot in that house again.
It depicts a naked couple, from behind, getting into the shower together, which was probably pretty racy for the time. My grandmother made the hair color of the couple the same as hers and my grandfather’s and there’s a drop of water coming from the faucet that should probably be blue, but, instead, it’s inexplicably swamp green. I imagine she was probably out of blue thread and had some green laying around that she used for the towel in the picture and thought to herself, “Meh. Same thing.”
It’s very clear that she inserted a little line on the side of the woman’s body to give her a side-boob and, perhaps most importantly, she changed the position of the woman’s hand from resting affectionately on the man’s back to the FRONT of his body, out of view. This (literal) slight of hand sums up my grandmother’s humor perfectly. She was cool and understated and could tell a dirty joke.
(Get your nearly-as-cool needlepoint here.)
Photos by Bridget Badore.