Sunday, December 21, 2008


Today we are packing our suitcases, taking the cats over to my sister's house, and disconnecting the computers. Which means no blog updates until the week of the 5th.

Note the lack of a concrete blog-update-date? Let's just say I'd rather not accidentally lie to you.

The next few weeks will be split between Switzerland, Grapevine, and San Jose.

Merry Christmas!
Happy Hannukah (which I believe starts tonight? Or last night?)

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Summer Kitchen

Our new digs in the South Bay have all the modern comforts (minus a coat-closet)...including a Summer Kitchen. In case you, like my husband and our landlord, have no idea what that is, it's a kitchen on the property, but separate from the main house. In our case, added onto the one-car garage. The purpose of this is to be able to bake and cook to your heart's delight without baking and cooking your housemates in the August heat - they're leftover from the pre-central-air days. Farmhouses generally have them. A genius invention, actually.

Unfortunately, ours shares space with the laundry machines and was clearly last decorated in what I like to call the Harvest Gold Heyday. I'm not to be deterred, though. I plan to hang some posters, install a 1950's era card table and a couple of chairs and create a nice place to store off-season cookbooks and excess freezer goods.

Here's the before image:

I love that there's storage out here. It makes me almost giddy. There might be more storage in this room than in our entire life.

The bed is going to Salvation Army and being replaced with a card table and chairs. On the right you'll note up by the door there's a washing machine and them directly next to that is a hand-washing machine. I have no idea how to use it and I had to ask what it was. Tips?

Stay Tuned for the after. And try to reign in your jealousy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Cheer

Found this while I was going through some Christmas stuff a year or so ago. Scanned it and forgot about it and then found it again. Feel free to save it and use it for your own placecards, gift tags, whatever your little Photoshopping Heart Desires:

Happy Holidays!

PS - in the interest of keeping artisans in business, please follow this link. Seriously. Save Our Toys.

PPS - notice to the right under my list of blogs I've got a list of What The Cool Kids Are Posting. Those are items that pop up on my RSS aggregator that I like enough to share. Feel free to browse away. There's great stuff in there!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If Only I Had a Green Thumb...

Please believe me when I tell you that I have killed mint. Yes, Mint. An invasive weed. And I killed it. But DEAD.

And, like all people who fail miserably at something, I have longed to be successful. I watched jealously as my sister brings ailing plants back from the brink, and I lust after well-planned and executed gardens in magazines.

What I need is something hearty. Something resilient. Something that my husband won't mind looking after so as to ensure it's long and healthy life.

I also need something my cats won't readily eat. Imagine my delight, then, when I found this little how-to on the Domino Site.

A day or two later, while cleaning out my backed-up tear sheets I ran across this in the new-defunct Home and Garden:

Ok, so it's not entirely cat-proof, but it does look hardy and pretty. And then I turned the page and discovered this:

Still not entirely cat-proof, but the little mushrooms kill me. One more page in the spread and voila! Cat-proofness.

And look at those succulents! Surely Husband can keep those alive for me...right? Wouldn't they make great centerpieces?

House and Garden even had a nice little information box for indoor plants:

As did The Nest Magazine:

Then a few months later, Dwell did a spread on what they termed Terradomes. Domes- cat proof.

These remind me of the lovely Saarinen Tulip Table (which I feel is the perfect patio table.) They're also vaguely Jetson-y, which makes me want to put them in a little boys space-age bedroom.

Tulip Table
(with the Carerra White top, which I'm not sure I like. But then again, I promise not to be too picky when the opportunity to place one on my patio presents itself.)

For a bit of nostalgia: (and also to get the full effect)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Emotional Architecture

But first, has Danny Seo (of Daily Danny) given me an idea for utilizing my card catalogue? He had a party and used an old apothecary chest for clever.

Now, Emotional Architecture...questions via this article in Apartment Therapy. I'm going to use this bad boy to help out with the place (that we have yet to find) in California. Let's see if it helps.

  • What feelings do I want to inspire in the various parts of my house? And how can I achieve those feelings?
  • Where have I been happiest and what elements can I bring from that place?
  • What elements will be pleasing to me, my spouse, my children and any other occupants? How can we integrate all of our needs and wants and, most of all, our personalities into our home?
  • Am I creating the type of environment that will welcome me home after a hard day's work? If not, how can I make it a more comforting place?
  • How do specific colors make me feel? How can I use (or not use) those colors as an additional way to evoke emotion?
By the way, these are hard to take your time with. Right now I've only got one partial answer:

Where I've been happiest:

Peach Tree, North Carolina


Anywhere I've been hanging out with the husband...the place where we were the happiest is a bit cliched. Our honeymoon, which took place here:

And that actually day I'll have a kitchen with walls the blue of the ocean. And I'll hang prints of the photos I took...none of which are on my computer. I really should reconsider keeping my iphoto library to a minimum...but I hate sifting through zillions of images for the one I want. Surely there's a better way...?

Ok...enough procrastinating. Back to the packing!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Got home after spending the afternoon running errands with a friend to find this:

He's been bad all day, but apparently sees the Moose on the tv as a challenge of some sort. Poor moose had wet antlers. Kipper (the cat) is now sitting on the cedar chest grooming himself and attempting to look innocent.

In my mailbox, the new issue of Domino - Woot!

While out, I also picked up these, from Williams-Sonoma. So they'll go on the dining table.

Happy Monday!

Any Other Year...

I'd have put the tree up yesterday and would be showing you pictures of that. However, we're spending Christmas in Switzerland this year so we decided in June to forgo the tree. I still planned on doing the full decorating...granted that's not a lot because the tree is generally the centerpiece of the loft. Then we received the timeline for our move...and that went out the window. The day we fly to Switzerland, the movers are coming. Unpacking all of the decorations just to repack them feels wrong.

On the other hand, I love Christmastime. So I compromised.

The moose is part of a gift I got years ago and it has pride of place on the tv. On the shelf behind the moose is the stack of Christmas movies I own and will watch pretty consistently until they get packed.

On the same table that housed the Halloween decor, I switched out a few items and voila! Christmas has come to Chez Moi. I have no idea where I picked up any of that with the exception of the ash tray on the right (candlewick, mother-in-law) and the rubber ducky (shower favor.) Oh, and the table cloth is the underside of the ones we used for the centerpieces at our wedding.

Sorry for the radio silence last week. I was in Florida with family for the holiday and completely forgot the wire to attach my camera to the computer...lets just say that in addition to not blogging I also didn't pack make up and I let a lot slide. I did, however, get my cards addressed and sealed during the Thanksgiving Day Parade...which is a tradition of mine.

And now I'm going to go watch (as Tavi called it) Buddytheelfwhat'syourfavoritecolor! You know you're jealous.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year...

That's right folks...time for the Neiman Marcus Christmas Tree. I live about two blocks away and every year make a point of wandering over and oogling their Holiday Windows. This year, although early (recession, anyone?) they're nonetheless still fabulous.

Every year their trees have a purpose. Generally there is some benefit to local charities - Scottish Rite Children's Hospital seems to be a constant. This year - no exception. The main tree is carbon neutral and made from reclaimed/recycled materials, and the other trees were designed by school children.

You can vote for your favorite and if you live in the area, you can even bid in an auction to own one.

Better photos, and to VOTE for your favorite here.

And around the corner...

Her dress and the wallpaper are all made entirely out of old Holiday cards.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Moving: Step One: Discovering a New Love

Step one is purge. Seriously. We have collected so much stuff in our 1100 square feet that it's embarrassing. Luckily, when Sister-In-Law and Family took of for Switzerland and SHE had to purge and pack it was incentive for me to get a move-on.

So we're at the point where we're looking at our DVDs and saying "Mission Impossible? Really?" And culling that down and heading to the Movie Trading Company.

I spent yesterday doing two things: wrapping Christmas presents that will stay with our family here (no sense moving and then shipping them back when they're already purchased) and culling (there's that word again) my tear-sheets. Years and years worth of tear-sheets.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I subscribe to Domino, Elle Decor, and Dwell. I pick up off the newsstand the occasional Metropolitan Home, InStyle Home, Town and Country...whatever strikes my fancy, really. So you can imagine my stack of needing to be organized tear sheets.

Step One B: discover that you have a thing for staircases. Who knew? Is it because I've never lived in a home with a staircase? Or is it because the following are so very clever?

First - this is the latest. I love love love it. From the wise folks at Apartment Therapy: The Mirrored Stair.

And now, my ten favorites:

I love the risers, here. Such an unexpected, decadent touch.

This one has a vacation feel to it. Perhaps it's because we honeymooned in Corsica and the mountains did, in fact, go down to the sea.

This is Gwenyth Paltrow's staircase. I like the striking contrast between the white of the stairs and rails and the dark banister. I also like that it's a sqaure-spiral. Perhaps I've seen too many movies where cool things happen to fall down the air-shaft created by the stairs.

This bad boy was custom made by a company that fabricates ship ladders. I love that.

This is another vacation-house photo. Not sure if it's actually their vacation house, but it feels like it should be. I like the reverse of the dark (seafoam) risers and the glossy white treads. I imagine the stair case feels more open and airy because of it.

Glass. Stairs.

It took me a minute to figure out that the bottom of the stairs is the same material as the hearth. A nice touch, I think.

These are clearly Back Stairs. For Servants, I presume. Well, at a time when a house with Back Stairs also had Live In Help. Rather Gosford Park, don't you think? I like the little door off to the right. I wonder if it's storage or a dumbwaiter...or maybe it leads to Narnia....

Split Treads. Genius.

My Favorite. I have no idea which magazine this is from, but I love this. It goes up to the second floor of what I assume is an impressive library. I would just sit on these steps and read.

Step Two, by the way, isn't to pack. It's to figure out where to live...and that will be a neat trick, indeed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wishful Thinking

First things first: we are definitely moving. Leaving our mid-size loft for something...else. I'm hopeful that it will have one of these:

(Image via Valentini's)

Of course, I know our tax bracket, so we'll likely end up with something closer to this: (oh wait, we have this...)

(It's Cuisinart...and no, I don't store bread and cheese next to it.)

I have, in that past, installed wine rooms in many a home. Commercially, as well, but that is generally an under-counter refrigeration unit similar to the one above. In-home wine cellars allow for a lot of creativity: everything from basic storage to - in one case - cored holes in the walls of a basement. I wish I had photos of that, but it's never light enough to get a good one.

Anyway, that's my wishing for the day. A very large room to hold a very large quantity of wine.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Photo Christmas Cards: a How-To

So it's November and that means that it's the start of the Holiday Season. (It's also Basketball Season!) The first thing I do every holiday season is make my Christmas Cards. In fact - I fill them out and address them during the Thanksgiving Day Parade every year.

Don't worry - I don't ignore Thanksgiving, but we're never home for it so we don't decorate. I do, however, bake. And Bake. And then I bake some more. It's delicious.

Anyway - back to the cards. It's not hard. It's more personal than uploading an image to a website, having the computer print up everything including the addresses and - I imagine - having that website mail it for you. Every year more and more people are outsourcing their Christmas cards, which is a sad, sad state of affairs to me. Does everyone need to channel their inner Domestic Goddess and make home-made cards and goodies every year? No. But in the spirit of the holidays - you can at least pick up a pen and sign your own name.

This is a how-to blog. So I should stop ranting. I've been ranty a lot lately. I blame the Stress Of Limbo. I'll try and curb the rants. I can control that, even if I can't control limbo.

So here you go.

Step one. Supplies. To make any card you will need blank cards, and items with which to decorate. I headed over to Good Ole' Target and picked up a package of 50 blank 3 1/2" x 5" white note cards and envelopes. I've also got packages of these delightful photo corners laying around from a project I did several years ago. In overbuying, I managed to supply myself for Christmas cards for a few more years. Shimmery cranberry paper (I picked it up second-hand, but I'll pimp Paper-Source because I love them and their paper collection never fails to satisfy.) And either craft glue or double sided tape. As with the gift-wrap how-to, my craft glue is glued SHUT so I opted for double-sided tape. And of course - you'll need a photo, since this is a photo card how-to.

I start by trimming the paper to the size I want - here I opted for a wide band, but in the past I've done thinner and played with positions. This is something that is completely left to your taste, but keep the Rule of 3rds in mind. You can never go wrong with that. I secured the paper to the inside of the front flap at the edge of the fold. It's important not to go into the fold or your card might not shut, which is irritating for the recipient.

Next I wrap it all the way around the the back of the back flap. I chose not to wrap it inside because I'm not sure how much I'll want to write and I didn't want the card to get too thick that it won't slide into the envelope easily. Note the bit of looseness in the red paper? This will pull tight when it's closed. If you make the paper too tight, it won't close -- and again there's irritation and potentially tearing, which would negate all of your hard work.

Next step - attach photo. I find it easiest to get the corners onto the photo first and then attach the whole thing to the paper - I pulled out the photo so you could see just the corners. But if you're a measure twice type of person and you want to go another way, more power to you. I like to eyeball and if it's off a little bit, my mom (and her mom before her) says: "Your friends aren't gonna care. And if they do care, then they're not your friends." Which is true for almost anything.

Step The Second to Last: photo. I blurred it out. I'd hate to ruin the surprise. It's not a recent photo, but it's a fabulous one.

Then you just write a cute little phrase, sign it, stick it in the envelope, address, stamp, and mail. And voila! You're spreading Holiday Cheer.

After you get the groove down with the babies you can just churn right through them. I find doing it with a cocktail and one of those movies I love and never tire of has many positive effects: I don't feel like a slug for lying on the couch staring at a movie, and I'm not feeling like it's a chore to do Christmas cards. And the booze doesn't hurt things, either.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Odd Week...

So I know that I usually post on Wednesdays, but this week is a little crazy. Some things on the home-front are up in the air (potentially a move in my future) and there's a party that I'm unexpectedly helping to host on Friday.

But just so that you're not left high and dry, here's a bit of inspiration. Not home-design, or even party - but life design, which isn't too far from everything else.

Life Design = organizing and creating your life to bring inspiration to yourself and those around you...even if it's just an inspiring gigglesnort. (Which, btw, is one of my favorite made-up words.)

I took this lady's lovely advice - everything is more fun in a tutu - and made one. It's part of my halloween costume and then it will become what I wear to make dull things more fun.

And the photo of the in-process cookies: