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!