Branching Out: Branch Curtain Rod

I feel like I have been saying this frequently lately, but it has been a while since my last post. With the holidays and the baby just around the corner, I feel like I either haven't had the time or the will to keep up with new posts. I am now on my maternity leave and in the waiting game so I really shouldn't have an excuse at least for a few days until the little one arrives.

I have pretty much finished her nursery and am just thrilled with it, but I am refraining to post pictures of it in it's entirety until my husband finishes the shelves that are to go above her chalkboard/desk area. He has been promising to do it for weeks now, but I have a hunch that he procrastinating because he doesn't want to put holes in the wallpaper. That aside, now on to my original reason to be posting.

I wrote a while back about a company that sells all kinds of branches and loved their stuff, but was disappointed that I had to buy five branches when I just needed the one. My husband is the master at finding anything online and so he found a random florist in Wisconsin that would send us a white birch branch at any length and pick the straightest one they had for $25. Not too shabby for a curtain rod. When it arrived in the mail, it was perfect (see above). I love the extra little unexpected touch that the branch brings to her nursery as well as the warmth. I found the linen textured curtains for a song at Cost Plus World Market for just $15 a panel. A steal!! I have a lot of favorite elements to her room, but I hope you like this one as much as I do! More to come!


Coco Stylewood Baby Lounger: Rockin' Baby

I have been hesitant to purchase all of the baby items and paraphernalia out there just because others say "you must have this". Partly because I know that all these things haven't been around forever and somehow our parents seemed to manage without, and also, a lot of the baby gear these days is motorized and doesn't allow baby's to figure things out for themselves or do things for themselves. With that said, one thing I did decide I wanted to have for our baby was a rocker or a lounger to be able to free up my hands for a few while I am in the kitchen cooking, but still have her near by. We ordered the Coco Stylewood baby Lounger by Bloom and it arrive in the mail last week. It's beautiful!

During my bouncer search I was again disappointed by the choices out there because of all the self motorized rocking. I came across a few that fit the bill, but my favorite by far was the Coco lounger. It's beautiful enough to leave in our living room even when your baby is not rockin' out in their stylish lounger. We got ours from Babystyle (30% off thank goodness) in the henna brown and natural, but for more color options, you can find them at Baby Geared.


Viva Terra: A Little Bird Told Me

These bird vases are just too sweet. I was lucky enough to stumble across them on a recent trip to Victoria BC at a local garden store (I can't remember the name) just before the holiday season and picked up a few as gifts for friends. But for those not around Victoria, I have seen them on the Viva Terra website for some time and have always been tempted to order them. They are a nice little gift for that special someone.


Garnet Hill: A Stocking for Your Stuff

Well, Thanksgiving is officially over and the holiday season has begun. This is one of my favorite times of year when we get to curl up by the fire with a good book and hot chocolate and not feel guilty for laying low. And I love Christmas decorations, especially stockings. I was looking for a new stocking for our little peanut who is quickly on her way. I found these online at Garnet Hill and instantly loved them! One of the more important criteria in my book is the size. None of this wimpy stocking size - you need to be able to pack them full! I also like the heirloom quality they have. I got the one with the ruffles since I know this little one will be a girl and then I ordered one more in the snowflake pattern for peanut #2 in the future.

Happy Holidays!


Phillip Jefferies Wallpaper

Bringing natural textures in your home always has a soothing and comforting effect. At least for me. I love any sort of natural wallpaper to bring the nature element inside, but what it also unexpectedly brings is a modern feel...with the right pairing of furniture and accessories of course!

We are putting this Japanese paperweave palm paper from Phillip Jefferies (a wholesale wallpaper company) up in the nursery to bring some warmth to the room. It is only going up on about the top three feet of the walls, but just that amount makes the room cozy. The bottom five feet of the walls are wrapped in white shaker style wallboard. Phillip Jefferies has some beautiful wallpapers to check out. Even if it's just an accent wall, these papers can make a huge difference in a room. We put some grasscloth wallpaper in our loft area so when you look up from the entry way you can see the textured wall.


Etsy: The Place for Pillows

This is the first time I have purchased something from Etsy and I have to say I am hooked. I found these pillows from White Butterfly Studio on Etsy and they just arrived today. The craftsmanship is impeccable and the customer service and price was just as good. I also love the other items listed under White Butterfly. These two pillows are going to look perfect in the nursery!

I encourage you to check out other pillows on Etsy. You can find some unique and beautiful items! Especially applique which I just love.


Calendars: More than Just a Time Keeper

I have done this for many of the places I have lived and still think it's a great way to recycle old calendars you love as well as have some economical art work around your home. After a calendar has finished it's year and you still love the pictures, who says you have to get rid of it? Simply pick a few of your favorite months and have them framed to put on your walls.

I really don't understand why custom framing is sooooo expensive and I can't get myself to spend the money on it, especially when the actual artwork itself is not of great value. So I will find every way around it, but still end up with nicely framed art. My solution is to take your picture/calendar to your local frame shop and have some custom mats cut and then pick out some stock frames. This way you get the custom look, but without the high costs.

With the picture shown, I had a calendar that I chose specifically for our bedroom. I picked out a linen looking mat, had them cut to size and then picked out some simple frames. I couldn't find a style and color that I liked all in one so I decided to paint them to achieve the look I wanted. I chose a champagne colored paint to pick up the lamp shades and also it is subtle enough that it doesn't make the already boxed in space too busy. The mats were about $17 each to have cut, the frames were 2 for $20 and then the paint was about $8. So all in all I only spend $69 for a custom look for two pieces - not too shabby!!

So save your calendars this year!


Burlap Sacks: Not Just for Potatoes

I have been seeing these vintage looking burlap sacks made in to pillows lately and am intrigued by them. They have ranged from rice to wine sacks that maintain the graphics on them. I think they give off such a cool casual vibe that I am itching for a place to include them in our house. Maybe when our office/family room is complete and I can get some additional upholstered chairs they could look good in there. But perhaps by then I will have moved on to something else, but I still think these are super cool. The one pictured above is from Wisteria, but as I said before, I have been seeing them more and more. Whether they are all authentic or not is not certain, but that part doesn't bother me. If I could get my hands on some old burlap sacks of my own I would make some myself, but...


Oompa Toys: How Toys are Supposed to Be!

I love children's toys with a bit of nostalgia back when when toys were simple and kids were encouraged to use their imagination. On my search to find toys for our little peanut on the way, I stumbled across Oompa Toys the other week and just had to share. Most of the toys are made in Europe and are simple like the days when life seemed to be more uncomplicated, but with a modern twist. No bells or whistles, just well made toys for kids to enjoy for years to come and parents to rest easy that they won't be on the next recall list of toys from China. I hope you have some little ones to buy gifts for this holiday season! Mine may not be here just yet, but she might have a few toys under the tree just in case ;)


Fall in to Soup

It was a blustery day today and the prefect day for a yummy cozy soup. I have made potato leek soup for years now and always enjoyed the outcome, but this time I think I hit the mark and wanted to write it down before I forgot. It turned out perfect - flavorful and creamy without any curdling.

I did a few key things differently this time. I added a little bit of wine to add some depth, used part half and half and vegetable stock instead of all lowfat milk and then heated the liquids before adding them to the soup to prevent curdling. The half and half I thought would add the creaminess I was looking for and the vegetable stock would cut some of the guilt I had from using the half and half as well as adding some more depth of flavor that is sometimes lacking in cream based soups. Then at the end, I added a little bit of fontina cheese for it's swiss cheese flavor quality and great melting abilities. Some of the time frames I listed in the recipe are not exact, but close since I was ad-libbing, however this is not a soup to just put on the stove and leave (any dairy based soup isn't) so keep an eye on it and you should be ok. But it's super quick and easy so you won't have to watch it for long. Paired with some rustic grain bread, it was the perfect fall dinner eaten by the fire - enjoy!!!

Potato Leek Soup

2 medium/large leeks (finely chopped using white and light green parts only)
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 c dry white wine
4 Tbsp flour
1 c 1/2 and 1/2
3 c vegetable stock
4 white potatoes (3-4" in diameter, 1/2" cubes))
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dill
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1 c fontina cheese (finely grated)

Melt butter over medium heat then add leeks. Saute leeks until soft several minutes. Add wine to leeks, bring to a boil until liquid is reduced for several minutes. Slowly add flour to leeks stirring constantly to incorporate and cook for one minute. Warm the half and half then slowly add to leeks constantly stirring. Heat for several minutes until slightly thickened. Warm vegetable stock and then slowly add to soup constantly stirring. Add potatoes, herbs and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer soup for 10-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Occasionally stir to prevent sticking on the bottom. Add cheese and melt in soup before serving.

* Heating the half and half and vegetable stock before adding it to the soup will prevent any curdling
** Save the hard ends of parmesan rinds and put them in a soup while simmering for added flavor. Remove it before serving.


Paloma's Nest: Personal Touches

Hello - it's been a while since I have posted. The crazy wedding and party season has continued, but I think it's coming to a close just in time for the fall weather to settle in. A good friend of mine got married a few weeks ago and everything was wonderful and she was a beautiful and gracious bride. She spoiled us as bridesmaids and one of her gifts to us, I thought was so sentimental and sweet that I had to share. She gave each one of us a personalized little clay bowl with special message along with a pearl bracelet that had our initial engraved on a small charm. I am not sure wear she got the bracelets, but I know she found the bowls from Paloma's Nest on Etsy. The packaging was a perfect little package and was such a treat to open.


Hob-Knobbing: Custom Look in No Time

I was looking at the Domino online newsletter today and their featured inspiration gallery was on decorative hardware. It got me to thinking that I have switched out a number of drawer pulls and knobs on furniture pieces so they suit that perfect look I am going for. Just because the hardware on a piece isn't to your liking doesn't mean you shouldn't get it. It's such an easy switch and can spice up any piece with little effort.

The three photos feature hardware I have selected specifically for the room and furniture. The vintage looking latch goes perfect for the throw-back vibe I am heading towards in our office/family room. We purchased those at Restoration Hardware (great selection of hardware!). The glass knobs I put on the antique vanity in our powder room to tie into the crystal pendants that hang above. And lastly, the brushed metal drawer pulls I replaced on a dresser since it came with boring square wood ones. And of all places, I think I got those at Target years ago.

Such a simple fix can give a dull piece of furniture some character and sparkle. So keep your eye out for some "furniture jewelry". Also, check out Anthropologie for some great vintage looking finds.


DIY: Squeaky Clean

Over the last several years I have been switching over most of my household cleaning products to natural/less harmful products. I have found some good ones and also some that just don't stand up to the chemical loaded competition. Window cleaner has been one of them I have struggled with.

About a month ago or so, I found all these recipes on the Martha Stewart website on making your own cleaners which is the ultimate in green and also saves money over the long run. I had bought all the ingredients I needed, but was waiting for the ones I had purchased to run out so I could reuse their respective bottles already prelabeled. Alas the window cleaner ran out last weekend and so I decided it was time to venture in to the green of all green and make my first attempt at homemade cleaners.

I just have to say that I feel silly at how SIMPLE it was!!! It literally took me a minute to do and it works fantastic (see recipe below). For the Castile soap I bought the lavender scented in order to mask some of the vinegar smell which is very mild and dissipates super quick. It leaves NO streaks!!! Gone are my days of buying Windex and getting aggravated at having to wash and rewash windows to get rid of streaks. I can't wait to try the other cleaners that were listed in that article.

Window Cleaner
1/2 teaspoon Castile or plant-based liquid soap
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 cups water


Fawn and Forest

Now that I have been in baby mode and searching the internet for all things cute, I have come across some sweet little sites (and some not so sweet!). One in particular really caught my eye and kept me perusing through. Fawn and Forest is so delightfully laid out and not to mention the name is quite catchy, that you can't help but want everything on their site for your baby or child. If nothing else, it's fun to stroll through just to put yourself in a good mood. Enjoy!


Save the Date! Custom Calendar Display

Continuing on my organizing kick, I found this great system at the craft store last week. I have been looking for some sort of calendar/magnet board system to hang inside our pantry door so my husband and I can readily see what events we have coming up...well, mainly my husband since I am the official calendar for the two of us and he just checks in with me to see if we have anything going on.

At any rate, I had been looking at the Pottery Barn organizing systems they have and I didn't feel like spending that much money nor have the space available for their size. It could have worked, but I was dragging my heals in purchasing one. Thank goodness I did because I was at Ben Franklin (a local Washington craft store) last week and ran across this whole do-it-yourself customizable system they had displayed. Everything was cut to size and any option conceivable such as cork board, metal sheets for magnets, white boards and an erasable preprinted calendar. Accompanying these, were square black 24" frames to fit. And they were not too big so they would fit perfectly on the small wall in our pantry (a place I know my husband will frequent!). So for $37 I got the two frames, one for the magnetic board to hold all invites and such, and the other for the erasable calendar to keep our monthly appointments in view. I couldn't be happier! My one gripe though is that I am left handed and have a hard time writing on the calendar without clearing everything I had just wrote...a life long battle of the lefties.


Keeping it in the Family

I have always treasured items passed down by my grandparents. They offer a piece of their past and history. And they also have a flair of craftsmanship and style that can't be found today. I have a vintage chest and mirror from one grandmother, china and jewelry from another and one of the most unique treasures I have are some old sketches of my grandmothers.

Dorothy Goldthorp (maiden name Oliver) was a talented painter and artist and most well known for her oil and water color painted landscapes. However, when we were cleaning out my grandparents house a few years ago I came across rolls of her figure sketches that I believe would have eventually turned in to paintings. The paper had aged and tattered and some weren't quite finished - all the better in my mind. They were the first things I wanted to keep and the rest of my family had already put them in the "get rid of" pile. They are treasure chest. Her sketched speak so clearly of the times in the early 1900's with the clothing and poses. I knew imediatly that I wanted to display them in my home some day.

I have since framed three of them, the earliest sketch dating back to 1926! I wanted to keep the integrity of the aged sketch paper and the holes where she tacked them to her easel. So instead of placing a matte around the edges, I placed the matte behind the sketch and allowed the tattered edges to become part of the pieces history. I also used pewter brads to tack them to the matte complimented by a simple black frame for a modern touch.

I have many more I would like to frame, but for now these will satisfy me. These will be something I am sure to pass down to my children. And to think they were going in to the trash!!


Nettleton Hollow: Nature at Your Finger Tips

Well, it's been a while since I have blogged. Life has been a bit hectic this summer, especially last week. We had the passing of a beloved pet of 21 years, my brother got married and we found out we are having a baby girl. Thankfully we have the blessing of a little one on the way to help get past the loss of Miss Lulu. We are thrilled to have a new little one join our family (of two) and of course I am thrilled to get started on the nursery! Hopefully I will be able to keep up with some more blogging now that I am feeling more energized and the thick of all the weddings are through.

Now that we know it's a girl my mind has been a busy bee figuring out how to design the room. I have settled on something a bit girly with a little bit of nature thrown in to the mix to keep it humble...just like her mama ;) I was doing a little searching today for a birch branch to use as a curtain rod on the window and came across this amazing site, Nettleton Hollow. Gone are the days of going to the local craft store to hunt for some nature inspired branches or foliage to have in your home that you saw in an amazing display at a high-end store. When I go to the craft store, I am always disappointed by the wimpy willow branches or sad looking dried flowers with not much else to chose from. Nettleton and Horton carries all those amazing branches and grasses you see in store displays that can create a dramatic yet simple statement. My one issue is that I just need one birch branch and they come in bunches of 5...hmmmm. Still love the site though!

I am excited to share my ideas for the nursery as I go along - stay tuned!


Big Change with Little Effort

One thing that I think gets overlooked in the whole design scheme when we are putting together a room is our lamp shades. And I am just as guilty at forgetting this. I have always just accepted the shade that the lamp comes with and never looked back.

Well, we got these lamps as a wedding gift that I love and the cream shades are perfectly fine, but as our bedroom has been coming together, the shades just seemed to be non desrcript. I tried to gussy them up with a little grosgrain ribbon around the top and bottom, but after adding in some additional textures, I was noticing that there was too much light and dark contrasting elements going on. So then I decided to add some warmth with a caramel colored shade that is neither too dark or too light and will set off nicely with the wall behind. So for $36 a piece at Pottery Barn, I have a whole vibe to the room. Ahhh! Just what the room needed!

From now on, I don't think I will just accept what my lamp comes with and consider additional options - it could be just what the room was looking for.


Poppy Talk Handmade

If you receive Daily Candy, then you may have seen this the other day in your email box. I love getting Daily Candy as daily inspiration and Monday was no exception. There is something to be said about rustic handmade goods that bring us back to a simpler time. Poppy Talk Handmade is a sight that is a home for unique handmade and vintage goods that are beyond your average town craft fair. One of the featured stores that caught my eye was Bluebell Bazaar. Such unique offerings that you would have a hard time finding elsewhere unless you scoured antique stores...which they kind of give me the creeps so I would much rather find vintage goods online.


An Organized Home is a Happy Home

Organization may be boring to some, but to me I get a sense of satisfaction that all is well in life. And what is usually the most disorganized place in a home (aside from the garage!) but kitchen drawers. I have tried numerous drawer organizer options and they all work well enough, but they never fit the drawer just right. They are either too short by length or width and then shift around as you open and close the drawer.

We have some pretty wide kitchen drawers and several "junk" drawers. I can't stand the mess! So I tried out the custom drawer organizers at the Container Store to see if we could meet all our needs of storage in one drawer. And low and behold, I really like the product and intend to use it to organize the rest of our unsightly drawers. The beauty of the product is that you are not limited to the compartment sizes pre-molded in the ones already made. With some simple measuring and cutting the plastic strips with an exact-o knife, you can have the most beautifully organized drawer and be the envy of all your friends. And you will sleep peacefully at night knowing that pen and paper is right at hand in a moments notice.


Glass Panels: Functional and Art

We have had this hole in our stairwell for some time now and my little nieces have been very wary of going up our stairs - I don't blame them! This weekend, our hole has finally been filled. We spent a lot of time deciding at first if this glass (Onami art glass) was exactly what we wanted there. Would it look too chintzy, too busy, or block too much light? Well, after many a conversations, we decided to just go for it since there is only one guy in the world that does this type of glass. Then there was the long wait for production of course and then the long wait to get someone to install it. After much anticipation, it's exciting to see them finally up in the space and see how it alters the space we have become accustomed to.

I am really thrilled with the final outcome. All of our worries were for not. It lets in the perfect amount of light and still gives us some privacy from the park across the street and it's not too busy or chintzy. And it's been fun to see how the light plays off of the texture in different times of the day. Also, my husband welded brackets out of raw steel that ties in our metal banister he welded. It's like having an art installation that functions as part of the house.


Jayson Home & Garden: Who Doesn't Love a Sale?

Here is another one of my favorite online retailers: Jayson Home and Garden. I went on to their site to do my periodical perusing and saw that they are having a sale - oh how I love a sale! Some of their prices on furniture are really marked down. None of this $50 off hocus that so many retailers advertise. So if you are in the search for some interesting pieces, check it out. Also, if you are a true originalist and like to have something no one else does, take a peak in the rare finds section. But be prepared for what the term "rare" brings...much higher price tags!!


Design Tip: Designer Soaps on a Budget

We've all seen those beautifully packaged soaps that cost up to $15-$20 a bar. I love how they look, especially when they are grouped together in a glass vase in a bathroom. However, I just can't get myself to spend $100+ dollars on soap...that is just for decoration no less! So I came up with my own solution - buy some cheap basic bars of soap, buy some decorative paper at my local craft supply store and wrap them myself. I bought the soaps in a pack of two for $1.99 at Trader Joes, and then bought five sheets of patterned paper that I thought would look nice in our bathroom for about $1-$2 a sheet. After wrapping the soaps in the paper, I used some thin hemp twine as an extra decorative touch. And for around $15, I got some beautifully wrapped soaps customized to my very taste. Simple as that!


Pantone: Color Your World

Choosing colors for your home can be mind boggling. You want to pick something that is interesting, but you don't want to be stuck with colors that you will find obnoxious as soon as that color is passé. I have used Pantone as a my color bible for my work as a graphic designer, but I have yet to dive in to their home and fashion products.

I was browsing their site today and found that they have lots of good tips for choosing colors for your home, how much paint you will need to paint a room, color trends, etc. Check out their section on color advice for inspiration. Granted, Pantone has lots of products that you most likely will never need, including their own line of paints (have no idea how these are, but if you have used them before I would love to hear what you think), but if you spend enough time navigating through their site, you can find lots of useful information on color. Also, check out this short video from the Pantone color trend specialist.


Casa Candles: Easy on the Environment, Easy on the Sniffer

My girlfriends treated me to a day trip over to Bainbridge Island on Sunday for my birthday. We always try and pick something different to do for each of our birthdays and this year for mine, a ferry ride and poking around Bainbridge was a lovely treat. We didn't do much in the way of being active because of the heat so we stuck to what we know and do best: shopping and eating. Dangerous combination!

Bainbridge has a few cute shops worth visiting and one in particular, Grace & Co. Paperie had a wonderful selection cards and gifts. They also carry Casa soy candles made by Pure Living. Normally scented candles are either to sweet, too musky or too something for me. So I was surprised when sample sniffing the Casa line, that almost every scent I smelled I liked. And an added bonus is that they are made from soy, which burns cleaner for the environment and for you than the normal paraffin candles. I purchased the Yellow Jasmine Tea candle, but really had a hard time deciding. So if you can't have fresh cut flowers from the garden in your home, this might be the next best thing!


Williams Sonoma Home: My Very Own Ginger Jar!

I received this white porcelain jar for my birthday from my in-laws and thought for sure I must have gone on and on at some point at how much I loved it when I opened it up. Apparently my mother-in-law saw and thought it looked like me so I must be pretty easy to read :) I just LOVE it though! I have been wanting one for some time now and felt like it was one of those things that I shouldn't splurge on for myself...same way I feel about expensive purses I guess. At any rate, I am tickled pink to have one of my own. It's such a beautiful and timeless piece that will always find a home.

I have seen these at many boutiques, but for those searching online, you can find it at Williams Sonoma Home.


Rose and Radish: Casting Light

A friend of mine asked me my opinion on adding a different style chandelier in her bathroom and would it be too weird that all the styles didn't match. My response was, "go for it!". Lighting should never be ignored or not have a say in the overall ambiance of the room. Quite frankly, isn't it the lighting we adjust to create a mood? So why shouldn't it's design add to the ambiance and not just the light it casts? Heck, I put a small crystal chandelier in our master bath. I am not usually the crystal kinda girl, but it just fits since the rest of the room is more masculine. Yin and Yang as they say.

It is getting easier these days to find some fun and interesting lighting sources...even IKEA has some great knock-offs for that matter. The pendants/chandeliers you see here are from Rose and Radish, a San Francisco based store that has some great earthy, yet urban goods. I am not saying that your chandelier should be a circus act, but something just a little different than the average Home Depot find. The ones above are beautifully crafted, interesting and yet not off the wall wacky. Worthy of a second look.


Whirley Pop: For the Popcorn Lover

This is another random post and bit dorky I admit, but I am a popcorn fanatic and have to share how to get the best popcorn for those who may share the same love of popcorn. The Whirley Pop popcorn popper hands down makes the best popcorn there is for the home connoisseur. Movie popcorn will even be mediocre after having this.

The Whirley Pop is used on top of the stove which gives that old fashioned flavor. I use a little canola oil, whirl the kernals around for a few minutes , add some kosher salt while still hot and voila! Instant gourmet popcorn. You can also experiment with your inner popcorn diva and use different oils (a touch of truffle oil is out of this world!) or herbs. I am a fan of olive oil with dried oregano, dried parmesan cheese or even kettle corn is a nice treat. As I sit here typing I can smell my husband make some right now...he's making up for locking me out of the house.

You can purchase this simple, but oh so wonderful product at Amazon.com:Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper

Oh and did I mention that the lid has a lifetime warranty? I have already burned through one and had a replacement sent...like I said...I really like popcorn!!


Sundance: Shelving Worth Noticing

I get many catalogues in the mail as I am sure most of us do. I'd say 60% of them are not worth looking through, but occasionally I will open one on a whim that doesn't particularly look like my taste. The Sundance catalogue is one of those that carries clothing that is a little more rugged for my taste, but I have looked through it several times and have been pleasantly surprised by some of their furniture selections.

They have some great vintage shelving that would look great in a loft type area or in a reading nook somewhere. These wire shelves (above) are a cool urban way to display your goods or the rustic vintage shelves will add a warm cozy throwback vibe to any room. So don't ignore your shelving and go for a standard blah bookshelf - they can have just as much personality as the next piece of furniture!


Juliska: Elegant Glassware

I have been an admirer of Juliska glassware for a while now. I can spot it a mile away and am always drawn to it. It's defined by delicate details that almost look like water glistening on the outside of the glass. They have all sorts of products, from vases and votive holders to tumblers. Each one holds it's own beauty and could be left out as decoration no matter what it's intended purpose.

Many local boutique stores carry Juliska products, including other tableware goods. You can also purchase Juliska online at Sallie Home.



Coconut For Your Walls?

I was at the restaurant Parilla in NY (for all of those Top Chef fans out there, it's the restaurant from the season 1 winner Herold) for brunch last weekend and used the loo just before we were about to leave. The bathroom was an unexpected discovery! I had to do a double take at the walls. At first glance it looked like dark brown mosaic tile just like we have in our powder room I posted about earlier. Upon second glance and looking closer, it was actually coconut tiles! What a cool application to your walls and such a conversation piece! The shells take on a whole new texture and dimension when they are polished and formed in to small tiles. Very chic yet bohemian.

Oh, and please excuse my horrible pictures! All I had to take them with was my phone :( Plus I felt a little silly going back in to the bathroom taking photos.


Mecox Gardens: Oasis in the Heat

This last weekend I was able to visit one of my favorite retail stores I have found online. Located on the Upper East Side of NYC on Lexington, Mecox Gardens was an oasis (literally given the 97 degree weather blistering outside) of beautiful home objects and furniture. I was expecting the store to be much larger, but I should have known since everything in NY seems to be on the miniature side...with the exception of their sense of fashion!

The store carries a lovely mix of old and new objects, all deserving of drooling over. I didn't pick anything up since I just blew a nice chuck of change on a new trench, but it was fun to see the store in person all the same. The woman working was also nice enough to lead us up to their hidden little hide away upstairs to a loft like room that displays even more of their beautiful goods and also holds their outdoor furniture and planters on a picturesque little terrace. I could have stayed there all day...and seriously wanted to with the air conditioning!!

If you are not fortunate enough to live in a city with one of their seven stores, their online selection is extensive and worth a browse. Their items are not on cheap side, but they are worth a special little treasure or even just a good window shop. Just look at that sweet settee upholstered in a soothing blue fabric. This particular one was in the NYC store and was absolutely adorable!


Spoon Sisters: Party in a snap!

Here’s a fun idea for your next summer party! I was away in NYC for most of last week and weekend and was unfortunate to be there when they had record temperatures - Yikes was it hot, hot, hot!!! So if you are having a party in that kind of heat, the littlest effort possible is key. Available at Spoon Sisters, these “Everything You Need” place settings include the fork, knife plate, etc…even the name card and napkin ring! Just place these around the table and people can unsnap their utensils. What neat way to get your guests engaged and add a little quirk to the usual BBQ.


New York, New York: Itinerary

So just a few more days before I am off to NY for my good friend's bachelorette/girl's trip get away. Another friend of mine and I put together some short little itineraries along with another list of potential places to go eat and see as well as a cd for everyone to listen to on the flight. We mailed these out to all the girls last week to get them excited for the trip and to give them a little preview of what adventures are in store.

It's a fun thing to do for a girls trip of any kind and relatively easy to put together. And the theme was so easy with the Sex and the City movie coming out just days ago - what luck! My friend Kelsey is the ultimate researcher and planner, so she was the master mind behind putting the list together as well as the cd (well done!). Then I took all the info and made it look pretty and put a design to it. Paper Source was my go to place for all the papers: the slate grey petal envelopes from Waste Not Paper and the cream textured paper that I printed two to a page and then cropped down. Paper Source didn't have the exact stickers I wanted to enclose them so I had to use a little creativity and print out a solid colored sticky sheet of matching green and then use a circle puncher I thankfully already had to make them. I used the grey and green for the colors since those are Stacey's wedding colors so it's unique to her special day.

Doing these extra little touches for good friends and family are always a nice way to share in their excitement.


Design Dilemma Solved

We have a built in cabinet in a niche at the top of the stairs that I have been struggling with what to put there. There is a large modern pear painting on the wall above that I love, but the cabinet top has been eluding me. I have replaced and rearranged that space probably 10-15 times in the last 8 months and nothing has quite fit or looked right.

Finally a week or so ago, I got the idea of putting tall dried wheat of some sort in a vase, but the catch was that I wanted it to be white. Why not paint it I thought? Well, this is one time I can thank my procrastination because I was out at the mall last weekend and was passing by Crate and Barrel. My husband had been pushing me along praying he could just get me to the car with minimal stops. But to my delight, right there in the window was white wheat stalks! Just as I had imagined in my head!

It's just what that corner needed. Something to add some height and create interesting shadows when the light is cast on it. It also goes well with the texture of the low vase. On the right I kept it simple with a pictorial book (not in the photo) laid open to some beautiful photography. Such a relief to have figured out that space! I can sleep easier now!


Target: Eco Friendly Sheets?

I wouldn't say this is the most thrilling of topics, but it's one that I have fought with for years. Sheets. Ugh. Sheets. I have had a long battle with finding the perfect sheets. I hate to spend money on them because to me, it's just one big flat of fabric and does not earn a $200+ price tag in my opinion. But yet, you go too cheap and they pill, shrink, the fitted sheet elastic busts on the second wash, or worse, they give you a rash! I have dropped some cash on higher-end (not too high-end) sheets only to find they come out of the wash shrunk up like an accordion...and I am sorry, but iron sheets??? No thank you!

Moving on (can you sense my frustration?). I debated over the Target sheets for some time. "Am I stooping to cheap?. Am I getting stingy?" However, once I saw they came out with bamboo sheets (really just 40% bamboo and 60% cotton, but I'll take it), I thought I'd give them a shot. And for $49, if they didn't work out, then I wouldn't be at a huge loss. I got the ivory set in a full for our guest room to try them out, and to be honest, I am quite happy. So much so, that I am bummed I spent more on the queen set for our room from another place at the same time and wish I went with the Target ones. I'll be getting a queen set too here shortly.

They are soft, have a nice weight (I like a thicker sheet), and if you pull them out of the dryer shortly after finishing, they really aren't all that wrinkled!! Now, they don't come in a huge array of colors, but I like basic cream sheets anyway...I used to like crisp white until I got married...they have never been the same since so I made the switch to cream. Need I say more? So for an economical and partially eco friendly dress for your bed, I say give the Target Bamboo sheets a try. But feel them first - everyone has their own version of the perfect sheet!


Emma Gardner: Rugs to Admire

So it's been a bit since I last blogged, but it was Memorial Day weekend and I took a break to get ready for all the wedding showers I have coming up. I tell you, when it rains it pours!! One of them is in NY so I should have a lot of fun stuff to report when I get back.

In the mean time, a textile designer I have been admiring for years is Emma Gardner. I LOVE her rug designs and wish that it were in my budget. Until that time, I occasionally peak at her site to get inspiration and just simply admire. Her clean and simple nature inspired designs are calming and inviting.


Design Tip: Clean up Your Magazines

This may be obvious to some, but maybe not. One of my pet peeves is magazines fanned out so every one can be seen. Practical maybe, but messy looking, yes. I love magazines, but hate them to look disorderly, so one of the easiest ways to clean them up and have them actually be a design element in the room, is to stack them perfectly with the spine out. This way people can read them, but they also are visually appealing and neat and tidy. And it's even better when they have all white spines...a little OCD, but it makes me happy.


Dr Hauschka: Au Natural

Now this isn't exactly design related, but I never said I would stay on track 100% of the time. When I find something I like - I must share!

Reluctantly I strayed away from using Proactiv as my primary skin care regimen. I say reluctant because I really do like what the product has done for my skin, but with the growing concern and hot topic of chemicals and toxins, I knew that Proactive was not on the "green" list nor any where near it. So after trying a few organic face washes out and not being entirely happy, I decided to try Dr. Hauschka's line after hearing great reviews about their products and how natural they truly are. I will say this though, I didn't try them at first because they are a little higher in price and I am kind of a cheap-skate when it comes to paying for beauty products...let's face it, I'd much rather spend my $ on a new home accessory or a new pair of shoes ;)

I have been using the Cleansing Milk face wash for about a month now and am really pleased. You can read all the ingredients, it has a nice mild scent, and it leaves my face feeling fresh. And even though I paid a little more, I am finding that it is lasting a long time. I now may even try out some of their other products. I recently reread the ingredients on my "natural/organic" toner and saw there are parabens in it - the nerve! So I must sadly move on.

You can purchase their products directly from their site (linked above), a local Whole Foods, Beautyhabit.com or a multitude of other stores in your local area will carry them as well.