Friday, October 29, 2010

No Tricks, Just Treats

Boo!  Did I scare you?  Even with Halloween quickly approaching, that’s about as scary as I get.  Though I’ve never missed an opportunity to dress up in my life, you’re more likely to find me in costumes that involve tiaras than ones that require fake blood.  As much as I enjoy getting caught up in the spirit of a holiday, I have a hard time if that ‘spirit’ is…well…dark.  You can imagine how this makes decorating for Halloween a challenge.  Fortunately for those of you that feel similarly, it’s a challenge I readily accept!  I’ve assembled a selection of Halloween accents that lean more towards the playful side of Halloween than the gruesome.  I even managed to find a few pieces I think are pretty chic.  Since Halloween is this weekend, I tried to limit my selections to stores with nationwide chains.   If you see something you’d like to use for a Halloween party this weekend, you can run right out and pick it up!  In addition to the stores featured here, I’d highly recommend you check out Target, Home Goods, and Hobby Lobby- their in-store selection is excellent!



Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Exquisite Book

I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I’m not aware of any rules that prohibit me from judging it by it’s name….which is exactly what I did when I heard of ‘The Exquisite Book’.  I mean seriously, how can you go wrong?!  In addition to having quite the alluring title, the concept behind the book is fantastic.  In essence, it’s a collaboration between 100 artists who each had the opportunity to create a single page in a picture book.  The twist was this: each artist had to design their submission (and thus the next portion of the ‘story’) based on the only thing they had access to- the page that comes immediately before theirs in the final sequence.  The only other instruction given was that the horizon lines needed to connect so the pages would be guaranteed some fluidity.  When I heard about the concept I immediately jumped online and ordered a copy to check out for myself.  Much to my delight, ‘The Exquisite Book’ finally came with today’s mail.  As soon as I brought it in the house I carefully poured over every page and so enjoyed the opportunity to try and get inside the heads of the artists.  Each one of their extensions of the page before theirs was so interesting to me…some were literal, some quite figurative, some created panoramic scenes, some went in entirely new directions, but all were creative and fun to investigate.  Best of all, I was introduced to a gaggle of new artists I probably would’ve never otherwise been exposed to.  I had many favorites so I decided it would be best to spread them out and highlight a few every so often over the next few weeks.  I’ll start you off with three I wanted to see more from.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

The biggest shock I experienced when helping my brother decorate his bachelor pad was the noticeable lack of masculine décor available.  The selection was laughable in nearly every store we visited!  Ever since, I’ve tried to keep my eyes peeled for pieces that aren’t just masculine (there’s only so much plaid and stripe you can put in a house), but extremely trendy as well.  I came across an Etsy shop calledUtilitarian Franchise that met, nay- exceeded my expectations in the masculine décor department.  Their accent pillows are extremely unique and all boy (although I think they’re so cool I’m certainly tempted to throw one or two into the mix in my house).  Here are my favorites.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Finding Clutter a New Home

The last memory I have involving a yard sale went down over a decade ago and involved sabotage.  My Nonnie (grandmother) is a de-cluttering champ and garage sales were a big part of her cleansing routine.  Unfortunately for her, I was less than excited about some of the items she decided to sell.  My very mature solution, of course, was to strategically add a zero or two to the prices of items I considered a memorable part of my childhood.  It seems I’m a tad bit too sentimental at times.  When it comes down to it, however, you can only keep so much…after that you have to learn to let go.  Yard sales aren’t necessarily about making a million dollars, sometimes they’re just about finding a new home for items you once loved.  My family is having a yard sale this Saturday so I’m prepping myself to take an objective look through our house.  I’m referencing some past posts to help me out…for example, I’m using the guidelines I talked about in Clean Your Closet, Reclaim Your Sanity to help me decide what needs to be evicted from my closet.  I’m also referring to the Assembling Your Dream Home post to help me re-evaluate what direction I want to take the design of my house so I can let go of the things that won’t coordinate.  As for yard sale specific tips we haven’t yet touched on- here they go.  

Act fast

This is one of the last weekends of the year where the weather will be comfortable enough to hold a garage sale, so if you’re interested in having one soon you’ve gotta start planning now.  


Make as many signs as possible and be sure to include the date, address, and times (especially if you don’t want those crazy early birds banging down your door at 4:00am).  You might also want to consider putting arrows pointing in the direction of your house on the sign- the less work your potential customers have to do to find you, the more likely they’ll come.  Be sure to place your signs on public property instead of on strangers front lawns…not only is it the courteous thing to do, it’s just a bad call to annoy someone with a sign that has your home address on it. :)

Polish the merchandise

Spend a little time cleaning the items you’ve decided to sell…a little elbow grease may make all the difference in whether or not someone wants to buy it.

Have a plan for the items that don’t sell

Consider donating what you can to a church, Goodwill, a local rescue mission, or another deserving organization.  Whatever you do, don’t just bring it all back into your house!  How many years did it take you to get it out on the curb in the first place?!  Have a strategy in place before you begin and stick with it.  Your clutter-free home will thank you.
Monday, October 25, 2010

Puppy Love

This weekend was quite eventful…I attended a bonfire at my brother’s house, went to church, watched all my Philly sports teams implode, spent quality time with my family, and fell head over heels in love.  Yup, you heard me, L-O-V-E love.  As fate would have it, we’re hopelessly star-crossed with virtually no hope of ending up together…not really the ‘boy meets girl’ love story we all dream of.  In fact, this particular love story went a little more like this….girl promises herself she won’t conduct any more searches on a certain website…girl folds in moment of weakness…girl finds The One…girl remembers the reason she swore off in the first place- because she can’t get a dog right now!  Seriously, though…his name is Zeus and he’s the most perfect French Bulldog I’ve ever seen.  Look!!

If I could, I’d get in my car this very moment, drive to the rescue shelter in Greenfield, Indiana, pay his adoption fee and sweep him away.  Unfortunately, there are at least a hundred reasons why I can’t do that right now, so I’ll have to continue to love him from afar and hope a nice family with a big yard will adopt him.  Although I may never be able to call Zeus my own, I’m looking forward to the day when the timing is right and I can finally get a dog.  When that day comes, I will be prepared.  If you’re one of the lucky ones to have a special pup in your life, consider treating your pal (and your home) to one of these pretty dog bowls.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Nesting Bug

Whether she’s singing Justin Bieber at the top of her lungs, declaring a spontaneous game of charades or just telling me a story from her job as a nurse, my cousin Jessica is always cracking me up. Recently, her behavior has been unintentionally yet undeniably entertaining because she appears to be ‘nesting’. If there was one part of the equation that didn’t quite add up, it would be the fact that she’s very much not pregnant….but baby or not, the nesting symptoms are all there. Surge of cleaning energy? Check. The impulse to re-arrange and re-decorate our whole house? Check. The desire to empty and re-organize every crevice? Double check. I’m not sure what’s gotten into her, but I’m definitely not complaining because her rush of energy has transformed just about every area in our house over the last few weeks. It’s been a good thing, but we’ve definitely learned some lessons in the process…in fact, here are four major tips that will help you avoid the chaos that often accompanies the nesting process.

1) Stick to one project at a time! If you rip apart every room in your house all at once you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Keep it manageable and you’re less likely to get overwhelmed.

2) Define what success looks like and make a to-do/to-buy list before you start each project. What is your final goal? What do you need to see that goal to completion? Figure it out before you start so you can stay organized and on task.

3) Stay balanced. While it’s great to take advantage of the steam while you have it, be careful not to wear yourself out. Unless you’re bionic (or my Mom who seemingly never runs out of energy) this is a burst that won’t last forever and that’s ok. It’s alright to re-adjust your goals if necessary…by making them more practical as you tire you’ll increase your likelihood of seeing them to completion.

4) Don’t get something new for the sake of newness. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it! The nesting bug is tricky because it makes you feel like you need things that you really just want (although isn’t that true of a lot of life). If you’re not seeing what you want, wait it out and keep looking…and in the meantime remember, new doesn’t always mean better!
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mad, Mad World

I’ve been looking into mid-century design lately and I’m pretty sure I can safely blame it on the AMC TV show ‘Mad Men’.  From the wood paneling and retro prints to the classic color palates, the set designers do a fantastic job capturing the look of the early sixties.  I like the mid-century modern look, but I prefer it in moderation.  I love the Draper home, but I’d rather gather simple inspiration from it than work towards a literal reproduction.  My favorite elements are the fun prints and clean lines- check out these pictures from the set and see if you can’t find something that inspires you!  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cellar Time

Everything related to wine has a bit of an art and science to it…the way it’s grown, the way it’s made, the way it’s bottled and even the way it’s stored.  Because of this marriage of science and art, wine cellars can be as complex as the vintages they hold. The person who appreciates wine to the extent that they want to create a home for it in their space will likely take great care to ensure that they’ve created an ideal environment….that means catering to atmospheric conditions like adjusted temperature, lighting considerations and stable shelving.  While adding beauty to function won’t make your wine taste better, it certainly add richness to the wine experience, and that’s just what many connoisseurs value most.  

I came across a book entitled “Living With Wine” that showcases the most beautiful wine cellars in the world and it inspired me to check out the art that is wine storage .  Here are a few of the most beautiful cellars I found.