February 26, 2010

Little Touches

Bejeweled Stirring Spoons and Agave Nectar for Coffee

Butter in Butterfly Dish

French Glassware

Primroses and Floating Candles

Desserts on Stacked Pedestals

Perfect Baby Boy

Last Saturday a friend hosted a Grandmother Celebration brunch in her home. I had my camera with me to photograph the first grandbaby of our group of friends. The baby made a wonderful photography subject but also, the hosts' beautiful touches had me snapping away. We all oohed and aahed over the gorgeous baby, (who slept peacefully even while being passed from one person to another), and over the elegant "Therese" touches. Great friends, beautiful flowers, delicious food and thoughtful displays lent to the celebration. I am so glad I took photographs to remind me of how little touches can add so much to the atmosphere of a celebration. Thanks Therese for a wonderful afternoon.

February 25, 2010

Time Management

El Nino has been good to us in the Pacific NW. We are having spring like weather in February with daffodils blooming, birds chirping and weeds thriving. I love yard work but can often feel overwhelmed by all of the weeding that needs to be done, especially in early spring.

Instead of avoiding the monumental task of conquering weeds, I have devised my own time management system: 2 or 5 gallon buckets. Depending on time and energy available, I will grab either sized bucket and weed until it is full. Once full, I clean up and head inside. Within just a few days, you wouldn't believe how many weeds are pulled with seemingly little effort.

Bucket time management is my solution for those of you feeling daunted by yard work.

February 24, 2010

Closet Storage

Yesterday my sister-in-law, Wendy, blogged about closet storage at SimplyBrookes.blogspot.com. For me, a clean and well organized closet is practically nirvana. Worried that I am overstating, I looked up the definition of nirvana. "An ideal condition of rest, harmony, stability, or joy = nirvana". Exactly!

Wendy and I are on the same page when it comes to organization. I was inspired to add to her post.

Many of the closet storage options on the market don't fit the bill. Fabric covered cardboard bins lack durability. While slope-sided storage bins compromise valuable space, making it difficult to fit folded clothes. I love these polypropylene woven crates from Storables. They come in many different sizes and are true rectangles. A huge stack of nicely folded running t-shirts would reside there in my closet.

Cascade Crate, Storables

One of my favorite tips is to use photo storage boxes for shoes, adding a decorative touch to shelves. Photo boxes are available at craft and office supplies stores. Find a set that compliment your closet or room. A stack of black and white toile photo storage boxes house my "occasion" shoes. These boxes from Joanns are 3.89 for 6!

Decorative Photo Storage Boxes, Joanns

Finally, Nest for Two, is a beautifully photographed and inspiring home decor book. Their storage ideas showcase how mindful closet design can lend harmony and even an artistic quality to your home.

Nest For Two, Amazon

February 23, 2010

Buffet Built in

I have always longed for storage space in the dining room. A place for dishware, display and table top lighting. Unfortunately, there is not enough room in my home. However, I have recently had the chance to help friends with ideas on a great niche in their dining room. Believe me, it is a GREAT niche, over 11 feet long and previous home to an overwhelmingly large, floor to ceiling, 70's wood built-in. Although it seemed we nailed down a great option from Ikea, I decided to research a bit more (yes, I tend to over research everything).

Dining room niche with built in removed:

Additional options:

Beautiful custom sideboard with rattan insets on the doors from Appletree Woodworks.

Free upper wall space for art and counter space for table lamps. Example from HVilleScoop.com

Sunset.com. A perfect match to their kitchen cabinetry. Add a narrow depth wine fridge, some glass front upper cabinets for stemware and there you have a swanky wine bar.

Sunset.com. Houses dishware, stemware, linens and pottery worthy of display. They might miss having countertop space.

Hoping to achieve a built-in look with Ikea's modular options, we were able to graph out the room adding upper and lower cabinets from their Effectiv line. The line is part of Ikea's workroom furniture. At 17 in. deep, it won't overwhelm the room like the previous cabinetry had.

Ikea - Effectiv Series

Ikea - Effectiv Series

The extra research has lent more ideas to this project. I hope my friends find them helpful. I look forward to revealing before/after photos once their project is complete.

February 22, 2010

In Pursuit of Light

Lately I have been feeling like Goldilocks searching for just the right table lamp for a small side table in my living room. I have scoured websites and found little that make the grade. Here is what I am looking for:

  • No taller than 18 inch
  • Great shade
  • Non-bulky base
  • Stand out/unique feature, preferably related to nature

After wandering from website to garage sales to flea markets and more, this is the best I have found:

West Elm, love the bone base, especially in gray. Too squatty though?

Maison Luxe, the crackled glass lends a beachy feel.

Maison Luxe,stand out design. I love the natural coral look and sleek base.

Jason Home & Garden, this may be just right. Good height, slender base, and totally unique lamp shade.

Do you have a favorite? Great lighting is a crucial element to the feel of your home. Our 70's house has such horrible lighting, I am always on the lookout for great additions. Where is your go to place for lamps?

February 18, 2010

Forcing Flowering Branches

Flowering Quince, Housemartin

Crab Apple Branches, Sunset

Witch Hazel Branches, Valeaston

Dogwood Branches, Habitually Chic

I can't say enough about the beauty of flowering branches for an early spring display indoors. Any chance I get, I will trim flowering quince from a friends 20 ft. high quince bush, bring the branches inside and display in a huge vase on the dining room table. The structure and form of the branches alone are visually attractive, and once the flowers bloom, an astounding display!

Just today, while heading out on a walk with a friend, I saw 8 giant yard bags filled with pruned cherry tree branches. The branches were covered with buds and even some open flowers (it has been unseasonably warm this winter in the NW). What luck, just bags and bags of flowering branches waiting to be hauled off to yard waste. One of those 20lb. bags came home with me.

Flowering branches are a simple way to make great impact on any table. Cut the branches at least twice the height of the vase. You really want to maximize their structure. Trim off the lowest leaves, suckers or buds and sink into a vase of cool water. Change the water frequently and you will enjoy their display for weeks.

February 17, 2010

Card Making

Although Valentines Day has come and gone, if a rainy days comes your way, today's post might be great inspiration for you to gather materials and enjoy creating a pile of unique cards to use throughout the year.

Materials needed:

Card stock and envelopes (different sizes)
Magazines, catalogs, colored paper, photos, etc.
Paper Cutter
Eyelet Kit

A few years ago, my mom gave me an eyelet kit for my birthday. It's my all-time favorite tool for card making:

Using a paper cutter, trim art from magazines, photos or catalogs:

Align art on card stock, make guide punch hole:

Insert eyelet (they come in many colors, choose those which compliment artwork):

Hammer eyelets down on opposite side:

Voila, a beautiful card:

The Anthropologie catalog is my favorite for finding great images to use on cards:

Cards and mini-cards from Anthro photos:

After just a couple of hours, I am now restocked with many cards. I have dozens of mini-cards, (2in. x 2 in.) for thank yous or little love notes, and a variety of standard 4 x 6 in cards with seasonal images secured to the front. It was great to use materials I already had around the house and end up with unique yet easy handmade cards for any occasion.

February 16, 2010

Surprise Cleaning Supply

Yes, you heard correctly, add wood skewers to your household cleaning supplies. They are the perfect tool for getting dirt, dust and gunk out of cracks and crevices around the house. In particular, I use them around the window and glass shower pane tracks.

Add wood skewers to your next shopping list, you will find them an essential cleaning tool.

February 15, 2010


I have been a little behind on my posts due to finally painting our master bedroom. During the process, I discovered FrogTape. For years I have been painting without taping, I use a really good brush and dig deep for the utmost patience at ceilings and baseboards. The problem with my method is time consumption. But after disappointing results with blue masking tape, I felt it wasn't worth the effort to tape.

I can now 100% recommend FrogTape for clean, perfect lines. FrogTapes' micro-barrier activates when latex paint comes in contact, creating a seal. It really works. Check out their website for more information: FrogTape.

February 10, 2010

Bookshelf After

Play with Display Project

The "after" of my bookshelf is complete. This seemed like a simple task: clear out the bookshelf and thoughtfully rearrange books and decorative items. It did take some time and rummaging. I wanted to stick to either using what I had or spending no more than $10 for items. The butterfly prints were color photocopies and the frames were unused in a closet. The wood bowl was a garage sale item from years ago, I gave it a new look with several coats of paint. I also added some dimension to the existing magazine holders. The cat is not a permanent fixture, just Zoe's' new survey spot.

My inspiration was this photo:

From a visual and practical standpoint, I loved how they hung art inside of the bookshelf, easy to dust the shelves without moving your display. I also liked the balance of items, the open space and the fact that there wasn't a theme.

Having used only $3 for the color photocopies, I would still like to find some pottery items (similar to inspiration photo), in place of the small bird house (too much brown).

Thanks for checking out my after photos. Let me know your thoughts, would you change this up in any way?

Stainless Steel Straws

photos-brooklyn farm general store

This is the latest item I have been on the hunt for. A very eco conscious friend of mine had jaw surgery last week. While dropping off smoothies and magazines, I wanted to add some stainless steel straws to the mix. I couldn't find them at any of our local stores. With a quick internet search, I found many places to order them from, the least expensive at ChefTools. $9.99 for 4.

What a great alternative to plastic straws. Because of my daughters' 3 or 4 plastic straws a day wastefulness, I no longer purchase them. These polished steel straws are reusable, dishwasher safe and very cool. Stocked in my vintage martini shaker they would add a great touch to my mini bar cupboard:

Wouldn't they be a great hostess gift as well?

February 9, 2010

Valentines or Anytime


Forget fresh flowers on Valentines, I would love an everlasting bloom from Emersonmade. I discovered this quirky site over a year ago and frequent their blog often. Not only do I love their hand dyed, hand stitched roses, dahlias and poppies, the candid photography is fantastic. Out of their New York farm, this adorable couple runs Emersonmade, amongst hens and ducks and dogs.

My daughter just went to a semi-formal school dance last weekend. This Flutter and Little Royal Rose wrist corsage would have been a beautiful accessory and keepsake:

For him, an adorable Popper Tie Tack, certainly he would indulge and wear for Valentine's day:

On a clutch, belt or pin, the Cheeky Dahlias are my absolute favorite. I love the pale pink and salmon colored ones!:

Visit Emersonmade.com and just try to find a favorite.

February 8, 2010

Sarah's House

Photos courtesy of Sarah Richardson Portfolio on Flickr

I may be a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but if you haven't already, set your dvr to record HGTV's Sarah's House. Canadian design expert Sarah Richardson renovates a home from top to bottom. I love her design style as it never seems over accessorized or unattainable, it is chic yet livable. She goes for quality elements where it counts and saves money where she can. Check out her show and her HGTV page. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Now I am out the door to pick up the perfect gray color paint for my bedroom. After 6 test colors, I think I have found it. Interesting that in the photos I found today, Sarah's master bedroom is also gray!