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.


West Elm and CB2: Side Orders

There are some great side tables out there that won't empty out your pockets. With a discerning eye and a little scavenging, you can find plenty of options for whichever design style you tend to swing towards. Here are two that I think have great lines and have enough character that they deserve a title more than just "sidekick".

This sweet number from West Elm is following the nature trend of the moment. At $179, the Branch Side table won't set your budget over the top and will add a whole lot of personality to your room.

If you are the classic type, you might be drawn to this Alchemy Side Table from CB2. With a nod to classic laboratory equipment and only $249, you can afford to do some additional design experimentation on the rest of your home.


Oly Studio: Accessories You Say?

Oly Studio is largly known for their high quality uniquely designed furniture. What isn't as widely known is they offer some great accessories for both the home and personal. I love their shagreen clutches and purses. I have the grey clutch myself and it is great for an evening purse that can go with casual or dressy in a cinch. They also come in a mens and womans wallet. So chic!


Walnut: Not Your Grandmother's Wallpaper

I have been really curious and fascinated with wallpaper lately and have been trying to conceive a place to put some up in my own home. Wallpaper has changed drastically since it fell out of vogue in the 90's and new companies have emerged with some fun and updated designs. The patterns have become more playful, sophisticated and less stuffy...or tacky. Remember those pastel floral days? Or even better, the 80's paint splash days reminiscent of Saved by the Bell? The horror!

Walnut is one such company that caught my attention. The photo above is an example of one of their papers from their gallery online. I just think it would be so fun to have an illustrated forest in a room. Hmmm...maybe I could incorporate one of their papers in a guest room?? Or in a nook somewhere or in the back of some shelving maybe. I'll find a way! They offer an instant design impact with little effort and can create a mood to a room without alot of textural elements needed to be interesting.

Another site that I love for their papers, but mainly for their cool website is Cavern. Their site is interactive and fun to play with the different designs. I say we give wallpaper a second chance! But please - choose wisely!


Wisteria: Moroccan Nights

These are delightful little carved moroccan votive holders from Wisteria that will make your table a place to linger. They would also be wonderful in a bathroom, on a nightstand or where ever you find a little spot in need of bit of sparkle.


Mother's Day Brunch

It was a busy weekend preparing for Mother's Day and having my mom in town visiting at the same time, but with a little pre-planning I think I (I mean we) pulled it off without a hitch. We ended up having a brunch at our place with my mom, mother and father-in-law and my brother and his fiance. A modest crowd, but enough people that you have to make the food simple and easy so you are not up at the crack of dawn preparing breakfast.

I made a mushroom, spinach and fontina egg strata as one of my old standbys and always a crowd pleaser. They are the best since they feed a crowd and all of the preparation is done the night before and then you put it in the oven in the morning to bake. I say anything you can make ahead of time is a life saver! The strata paired with a simple salad, a classic sourcream coffee cake (made the day before) and broiled grapefruit rounded out the menu. Yum, yum! The broiled grapefruit was a last minute adjustment from the original menu, but it was super easy and a pretty addition to the table.

Grilled Grapefruit:
Preheat oven to broil. Halve however many grapefruits you will need (one half/person), place them on a cookie sheet, sprinkle tops with sugar and broil for about 10 minutes! You can serve warm or at room temperature. I recommend trying this for a different take on the usual brunch fruit suspect.

With a simple palette to the table setting and some beautiful lilacs to make it special for our mother's, I think the morning went really well. I hope our special mom's felt spoiled!!


DIY: Add Texture to Your Walls

I have been struggling over our bedroom for the last year or so. I like all of the elements individually, but all together they have felt a bit bland. Granted, we don't have all of our furniture yet so that in itself adds layers and textures. I adore my duvet cover with the graphic black and beige pattern from Dwell. I like the soft butter color of the walls and the mushroom colored silk drapes...but it just seems so...beigish.

I grappled over the idea of wallpapering the main wall behind our bed, but that seemed like too much commitment to a pattern I may or may not still like in a year. I also thought of painting it an accent color, but that didn't seem like the best fit either. Then - a ha! Put molding on the one wall to add visual interest and texture! I love it and can just imagine how a headboard, some art work and new darker lampshades will pop with that added layer. It took my husband about a day and a half to put it up and paint it all and he did a fabulous job. It cost us only around $100 for something that adds a ton of architectural interest...AND I didn't have to face my fear and commit to a pattern! ;) Life is good.

Also notice the ceiling. We put a medallion around the chandelier for that extra touch. It's those extra finishing touches that really make a room. I guess you could say that having furniture adds that "finishing touch" too. Baby steps, baby steps.


Branch Home: Honor Mothers Around the World

OK- it's late and time for bed, but I wanted to get this posted in honor of Mother's Day. These kitchen towels from Branch Home are beautifully crafted by hard working women in Transylvania and Romania and by purchasing their goods you help them provide for their families. How awesome is that?! The materials used to make these are organically grown on family farms then spun and processed by hand. Mothers all over the world work hard to care for their children and I'd say we have it pretty good on this side of the globe. Each towel is a bit spendy for what we are accustomed too at $19 each, but then again it's not from China this time and has the greater good in mind.
Happy Mother's Day!


Velocity Art & Design: Santa's Helper

Here is something clever as a coat rack! The Ghost Antler Coat Rack, from Velocity Art and Design is cast in white resin (Santa's reindeer were not harmed in the process!) and is mounted on the wall as simple decor or as functional art. Use them to hang coats (albeit light ones), scarves, umbrellas, hats, etc. The designer, Erich Ginder, is a local Seattlite so I am all but happy to support a local! We have two of these mounted downstairs above the bench just as you come in from the garage. They are an unexpected twist that always catches one's attention.


Art: Highs and Lows

Last summer, the Starbucks in UVillage near UW was featuring these art sculptures that were for sale. They were simple enough; silver painted driftwood mounted on a thin post and stand. I thought they were pleasing and a clever way to display nature. I thought to myself, "I could easily do that". And I was also curious to look at what they were selling for (I am never one to pass up a price tag!). Holy smokies!!! They were running for around $1,200 a pop??!! Are you kidding me?! After that, my husband and I would always have a chuckle every time we went in and saw those ridiculously priced pieces of art.

So last summer, we were on a weekend trip at the beach and decided to do our own interpretation of the silvered driftwood and collected a few pieces that we thought were interesting shapes. We came home, painted one of them silver that took all of about 2 minutes and voula! Insta art that cost...well nothing since we already had the paint. I decided not to mount it on a post since I found a nice little nook for it laying horizontal, but you never know, maybe some day I will.

Point being, be creative in reinterpreting art that you like. It's always within reach or in some cases, right on the beach.


Recipe: Oatmeal Cookies That Won't Fall Flat

After a long week of feeling tired and fighting a cold, I usually want to bake something comforting. And what is more comforting than a good batch of chewy oatmeal raisin cookies? I baked a batch a few days ago and they have been feeding my sole (among other things that could do without) ever since.

It's hard to find a good oatmeal cookie that doesn't flatten out like a pancake or on the other extreme, is more like a dry dense cake than it is a cookie. So I leave you this weekend with this comforting recipe that will fill your home with yummy smells and is sure to please a crowd.

Makes about 48+ cookies...depends how much cookie dough you eat I suppose
1 c butter, softened
1 c brown & 1 c white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla (the real stuff!)
1.5 c flour
1 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (kosher or sea)
2 tsp pumpkin spice seasoning
3 c uncooked oatmeal (not the quick kind)
1 c chopped pecans
1 c yellow raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy about 5 min. Add eggs and vanilla, mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, soda, salt and spices. With mixer running, gradually add dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in oatmeal, nuts and raisins. Drop by tablespoon (I use a one-inch cookie scoop and they come out perfectly every time) 2 inches apart, onto lightly greased cookie sheet or one lined with a silpat (my preference). Flatten tops slightly and bake 10 minutes for a soft cookie.

Bakers Notes:
A few things I have figured out over the last few years trying to learn my own oven is to not put two cookie sheets in on the same shelf. The heat doesn't circulate properly, thus leaving you with half burnt bottom cookies. Also rotate the sheet halfway through to ensure an evenly browned bottom. Enjoy!

You can purchase a silpat online at Amazonif you don't have one - highly recommended for all types of sheet baking!!


Alena Hennessey: Back to Nature

The first time I stumbled across Alena Hennessey's design work, I was an instant fan. Her nature inspired prints, totes and pillows are soothing and delightful all in one. She has also introduced a new eco-line for those green conscious people out there and offers custom work if you want that unique piece no one else will ever have.