January 29, 2010


My New Babies

Latte Collection

Madrona Studio

Has anyone heard of glassybaby? I can't say enough about this Seattle based company and their product. Cancer survivor Lee Rhodes, developed glassybabies as a diversion from the loneliness she felt during her illness. She describes them as "a small, colored, glass cup, candleholder, or vase. But the light of a candle coming through a generates more; it gives warmth to a cold day, a calm token of peace in the busy world."

We all know that having a great home is to keep only what is beautiful, useful or meaningful,a glassybaby fulfills each of those requirements. To read more or order online, visit glassybaby.com.

I really want to let you all know about their 2nd sales. Twice a year, their Madrona Hotshop sells over 5,000 unique glassybaby seconds in need of good homes to cherish and light them. Though these glassybabies may be slightly flawed, they still possess all the charm of the originals, for a $14.00 discount. I am lucky enough to live within 10 miles of Madrona. With a cup of hot coffee and my trusted bargain betty side kick, Ann, we left the house at the crack of dawn. After 2 hours in line with several hundred others (we were towards the front of the line though), we entered the studio and marveled at the tables filled with "misfit" glassybabies. Hearts racing, we gathered, tested, held to the light, oohed, aahed, conferred and finally skipped out with 3 babies each.

For the total experience without being there, this video highlights the sale:
Glassybaby 2nds Sale
Trusty bargain betty side kick Ann is the one in the cool fedora!

Next 2nd Sale is in June.

January 28, 2010

Grand Entry

One Kings Lane

Emerald Bay Photo

Sheppard Design

Better Homes & Gardens

Fear not, this is not a post about spending lots, or any, money on the curb appeal of your homes' front entry. The photos included are only meant to inspire you to ponder. When friends, family and guests visit your home, does your front entry welcome them? The front of your home represents you and welcomes those poised to ring your doorbell or knock on your door.

This may sound strange but I often treat our front entry as a room that needs cleaning, a semi-regular chore. Neighbors have grown accustomed to finding me vacuuming cobwebs from the entry and front step. The glass on the storm door is cleaned just as often as the inside windows. Though more difficult in the winter, I try to keep the planter spruced up with winter hardy plants.

Step outside your front door, walk up to it as if you were a visitor. What do you see? What does it say about you? Be objective and ruthless, this could be a 30 minute cleaning job that changes the entire look of your entry.

Cleaning checklist to make your front entry grand:
  • Clear away shoes, toys, bags or trash
  • Vacuum or dust cobwebs in the portico/alcove
  • Sweep away all debris under entry mat
  • Wash or replace entry mat
  • Wipe handprints, dirt and dust off front door and door handle, clean any glass
  • Clean dirt and debris from your front light, replace bulb if necessary
  • Trim back any shrubs or plants that block the walk or front step

Cleaning is just a start on your front entry makeover. Try working on this over the next few days. Next week, I will follow up with a post on great final touch ideas. Once complete (cleaning and final touch), I would love to hear your story and view your before/after photos.

January 27, 2010

Finishing Touch

While I don't tend to stock up on seemingly unnecessary cleaning supplies, I can't live without a scented countertop spray. Nothing seems to say "the kitchen is sparkling clean", more than a spray and wipe down of the counter tops. Most sprays are all-purpose and safe to use on non-porous surfaces. Method, Williams & Sonoma and Caldrea sprays are earth friendly and come in a number of scents. My current favorite is pink grapefruit.

Method - Target: $2.99

Willams & Sonoma - $9.99

January 26, 2010

Crazy About Crewel

Not your grandmothers' embroidery! Today crewel embroidery is interpreted on pillows, fabrics and other home fabrics in a gorgeous and modern way. Usually following a screen printed outline, embroiderers will use a variety of stitches to create a textured effect. Crewel embroidery also tends to entail the use of wool, a thicker thread, thus the raised, dimensional feel to the work.

I think that these pillows from Esty Shop: Homemaker Movement are a beautiful modern interpretation of this traditional craft. I love the vibrancy of the brightly colored pillows as well as the tone on tone of the subtle gray pillow (I am in love with gray right now). Perfectly paired with solid colored pillow(s), these can add instant zing to your room(s).

*Note on pillows: when purchasing new throw pillows and your budget (and allergies) allows, go for down inserts. They can be fluffed back into shaped, washed and made over with new pillow covers. Much better investment than polyester batting filled pillows.

January 25, 2010

Bookshelf Project

I am working on the bookshelf display project as previously posted in: Play with Display. After clearing out all of the items in the bookshelf, I decided to update the wood magazine holders. They were already painted a deep chocolate. With painters tape and some leftover gray paint, I added some much needed depth and punch. I can see that they need a little touching up but I decided to post the before/after nonetheless. How is your bookshelf makeover project coming along?

January 22, 2010

Stay Sharp

I realize this post may offer a glimpse of my OCD tendencies but who can't appreciate a mug, cup or urn filled with super sharp #2 pencils? A silver wine flute filled with pencils sits on my kitchen "desk" area, always ready for the morning sudoku, crossword, phone messages or homework help.

January 21, 2010

Flea Market

Just across Lake Washington lies the city of Fremont, a city I am lured to on occasional Sundays for their weekly flea market. I am grateful to have the opportunity to find unique arts/crafts, antiques or real hidden treasures there. I also love that on any given Sunday, I have great friends willing to join in on a field trip to the city.

A couple of weekends ago, I ventured to Fremont with my friend Ann. We usually set some guidelines for our Flea Market outings:
  • Dress warm and bring hot coffee
  • Go early
  • Bring cash
  • Know what you are looking for (stay keen on finding what you seek)
  • Avoid bright shiny objects (don't buy items just because)
  • Bring your camera (this is actually the first time I followed this rule)

Ann had every intention of finding a particular wonderful artist while I was looking for a unique lamp for a small living room side table. As with most flea markets, the vendors are hit and miss, they may not attend each week. Ann did not find her artist who paints crows and there weren't any lamps that caught my eye.

With my camera in hand, I did manage to capture some of the adventure:
  • The 96 year old pianist who greatly added to the atmosphere
  • A post typing cement lion
  • Very cool plaid suitcase (I didn't buy it, shiny object)

As I continue to enjoy the Flea Market , there will be many more stories and treasures to share. Do you have a flea market in your area? Treasures to be found?

January 20, 2010

Winter Fragrance

Sweet Box Sarcococca

Even with a stuffy nose from my cold, I am intoxicated by the wondrous scent that comes from winter flowering Sarcococca plants. I have two of these beautiful shrubs just outside our backyard patio. From a foliage standpoint, this evergreen shrub is not necessarily a stand out. The leaves are dark green and glossy and the shrub grows densely with a shaggy attitude. And while I can always count on it to survive and thrive throughout the summer, it truly comes into form from January on (in the NW). Tiny white flowers bloom all over the plant, their fragrant vanilla scent carries throughout the entire backyard and even drifts out front. Additionally we appreciate the occasional visiting hummingbirds and black berries that follow the flowers.

I love how Sweetbox Sarcococca's seasonal display beckons us outside to enjoy even what winter brings.

January 19, 2010

Concrete - Seal of Approval


NW Concrete

NW Concrete

Concrete may not be one of the most luxurious design elements to add to a home, but due to its versatility and durability, it can be both practical and beautiful.

After months of training our new puppy to use the rec room door as her outdoor exit, our carpet and tiles paid the price for her accidents along the way. We ripped up the carpet and realized the concrete slab had settled. Our plan to install laminate flooring would require a skim coat of concrete to even out the floor surface. If a skim coat was required, why not skip the laminate altogether? A professional concrete company came into our home and had the floor skim coated, stained a deep chocolate with hints of black and sealed within a week. It is gorgeous! It adds a modern, industrial element to a room where kids, dogs, guys and football games reign, yet the deep color adds some warmth. I love how easy it is to care for, simply vacuum and damp mop.

Can you see concrete flooring in your home?

January 18, 2010

Play with Display

After photographing my renovated bookshelf for a before/after post, I realized I could use a little inspiration to now makeover what is displayed in my bookshelf. If there isn't one already, can someone please publish a coffee table book on display ideas, I am happy to donate a title: "Play with Display".

Love the mix of decorative objects, boxes and books:

House to Home

Drawn to the casual effortless style:

Sunset Home

Framed art and books aligned by color, weighted with magazine holders:

Sunset Home

Empty space is part of design, objects have room to breathe:

Sunset Home

Streamlined, simple and balanced not overworked or "themey":


Over the next few days I plan to incorporate some of these ideas, revamping my bookshelf. If you are inspired to join me, here are some guidelines:

  • Take a before photo
  • Clean out the entire bookshelf, organizing items into like piles
  • Decide what stays and what goes
  • Scour your home for meaningful, beautiful objects to display, don't forget about artwork, pedestals, travel mementos
  • Something still missing? plan on purchasing a statement item with a self-imposed budget limit (mine will be $10)
  • Give yourself ample time to play with the display, crank some music and enjoy the process
  • Take an after photo

I would love to view and or share before/after images from readers, send photos my way via email.

January 17, 2010



I have always loved the flickering glow of candlelight for ambience at home. The long dark winter nights of the NW have me lighting candles housewide by 5pm. My dedication to this nightly event requires the candle drawer to be stocked with tea lights, votives and pillars.

While enjoying breakfast with friends at a great local bistro recently, I noticed the decorative candle holders had mini oil cartridges for light instead of tealights. These are brilliant! They burn parafin from 8-15 hrs (depending on size of cartridge) and are both smokeless and odorless. In using the cartridges, I can eliminate the sooty buildup on inside windows, the nightly replacing of tealights and cleaning out waxy candle holders. You can find these mini oil cartridges at Dining By Candlelight - 57.99 for 180 cartridges (approx. .32 ea) or at a local restaurant supply.

Let the glow go on.

January 14, 2010


Felicity Hook - large & sturdy, perfect just outside your bathroom. Hang your robe or towel.

Pantry Hook - great in multiples, use for belts, scarves, necklaces, any smaller lightweight items inside your closet.

Coat Hook - classic style with rounded head to alleviate warping fabric of heavy coats or sweaters.

An organized home can't be without hooks in all sizes and styles. There are so many beautiful hooks to be found online and in stores. The few I have highlighted can be found at Restoration Hardware.

I tend to prefer hooks for usage inside closets, laundry rooms, garages and bathrooms, but not entryways or hallways. It's not that I oppose displaying beautiful hooks in useful places throughout your home, it's the inevitable dumping of clothing items that can weigh down the room and the hooks, defeating the intended purpose: organization.

When searching for hooks, "shop" your home first noting specific needs and locations before shopping. You will be hooked too!

Painted Ceilings

photo courtesy of ThriftyDecorChick

What was I thinking? Years ago, while repainting some rooms, I decided to wrap the wall color all the way up on to the ceiling. Not only in my bedroom, but in the guest room, the rec room and my daughters room. It added warmth and coziness to the rooms and was easier than taping off the walls for crisp line between wall and ceiling. Many decorators refer to the ceiling as the 5th wall and paint it accordingly. This can be beautiful, especially if you have crown moulding to highlight.

Heed my warning, don't do it! One day you will want to change the color of your room. You will then have to change the color of your ceiling. Painting a ceiling is tough, it is messy work and hard on your neck and back. Flat white ceiling paint may not be the most imaginative, but it will bounce light and will always look clean and crisp. Save the creativity for your walls. Painted ceilings? Crisp, clean, flat white paint is the way to go.

January 13, 2010

Stack of Books

The more it rains the larger the stack of books next to my bed. My current library checkouts: A Barefoot Home: Dressed Down Design for Casual Living and The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough, great books that speak to my desire for casual, clean and informal spaces.

January 12, 2010

Modern Shed

There is a far corner of my backyard where nothing seems to grow. The douglas firs and our 100 year old big leaf maple demand all of the dirt, nutrient and water resources. I no longer want to compete with or disturb their very deep roots. I love the idea of a structure to fill the space and enjoy our established trees. One of these gorgeous buildings from Modern-Shed would be perfect.
My shed would be warm and cozy, outfitted with electricity for light and heat and perfectly sized for a yoga or reading retreat. If you can't beat them, join them (the trees that is).

January 11, 2010

Out of the Country

We had this great bookshelf, solid wood, built-in shelves, lots of great details, but a little too country styled for our liking. A ton of work went into its transformation (due to many refinishing mistakes I made), but with advice from many and grit determination, we transformed the bookshelf to better suit our style.


January 7, 2010


Ceramic Compost Pail, Williams&Sonoma

When it comes to recycling, we live in a great city. It's is made easy by city efforts, it gets done because they make it doable. Curbside recycling has been a way of life in our household for years. Last year the city upped the ante by adding food scrap recycling. Food scraps are collected right from our yard waste bins and are then composted with yard debris. I probably should be making my own compost, recycling scraps in a compost pile. I tried, it didn't work for me. I hated the giant black container, I could never figure out what they were referring to regarding the correct ratio of organic materials. Oh and I could never "stir" it.

Curbside scrap recycling works for our family, it has reduced our trash by 30-40%. We are now used to throwing scraps in our container, not in the trash or garbage disposal. Recycling this way has a huge impact on our environment, it is simple and practically free. (Though not necessary, I purchase the biodegradable bags -$4 for 25 bags, the process is less messy with the bags).

Most cities have or will be implementing mandatory scrap recycling laws. San Francisco boasts a self-imposed goal of a 75 percent recycling rate in 2010, with zero waste by 2020! Be wise about waste and join in now.

Great Gray

This sofa from Jayson Home and Garden is the inspiration color for my living room sofa slipcover.  It would be easier to find white cotton twill, but I am holding out, hoping to find a silvery, blue gray cotton twill somewhere, somehow. 

Product Review - Coffee

I do love my morning coffee.  And while I acquire many pantry staples from Trader Joes, on a recent nudge from my mom, I purchased their French Roast coffee.  $9.99 for 26oz., it comes whole bean, dark, rich and smelling just the way great coffee should smell.  The canister is colorful but I just had to transfer the beans to my flea market find jar.

Another coffee rave review is for SLO Roasted Coffee out of San Luis Obispo, CA.  I have been a fan of their coffee since the late 90's.  For my dads' 70th birthday, my siblings and I pooled our funds for coffee for a year.  He enjoyed a pound of coffee/month.  Teds' top picks:

I find their coffees well worth the price and will usually order at least 3lbs. to make shipping costs worthwhile.  The best part of waking up is definitely a delicious cup of coffee.

January 6, 2010


My "use what you have" motto went into effect with leftover slipcover material this Christmas.  Now I know it is a little late, but I think this project would be great for any gift giving.  I was inspired to post this craft after my mom mentioned the 29 Day Gift Challenge.   Hmmm, Valentine's Day will be here before you know it...L O V E bags maybe?

Lovin' Slipcovers

Lovely cat Zoe shredded our Ethan Allen chaise for years.  I couldn't part with the chaise, I love the curves of the roll back and the legs.  With about 6 yards of white cotton twill, cotton twill piping (pre-made from fabric store) and 2 days of sewing, I was able to transform the chaise back to a respectable state.  Zoe still loves it but only for lounging on, no longer as a nail filer. For some reason, once I slipcover a piece of furniture, she will leave it alone.  I guess the looseness of the fabric is no longer appealing for her cat scratching needs.

Although I did not document the slipcover making procedure, I do have the following tips:
  • Choose a fabric that is easy to work with, preferably without patterns that need lining up
  • Buy more fabric than you need.  If you run out, you may not be able to find more from the same dye lot.  Even with white twill, there can be a difference in shades
  • Choose a fabric where you can find pre-made matching piping, piping is a must for a finished look, though not difficult, it is time consuming to make matching piping
  • Prewash and dry fabric
  • I don't make patterns, I just start with the biggest section of the furniture piece and pin and sew from there
  • Use velcro for the cushion covers
  • Go to your local library, search "slipcovers" in books for step by step instructions
  • Just get started, if you are able to make pillows, you can make a slipcover for any piece of furniture
My next slipcover project will be the large sofa in the living room.  I promise to better document the steps with photos.  Now I just have to find the right fabric and lots of it!