Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Domino 100% Online!

I heard it from Paloma.

Who heard it from

Who, it appears, was
right on the money.

Which is just really exciting. No more searching ebay for back issues :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

cherry season in the heartland

Two Sundays ago, Sam got a call from Grandma telling him the cherries on her cherry tree needed picked. Within the next 48 hours. Grandma lives two hours away from us, so it was going to be tricky to get up to her farm on a weekday. Impossible, really. But, we could go up right then. It was already past noon, but see, when you're almost 35 and you're blessed to have your grandma still in your life to call you up and ask you to head her way - you go. If it's at all possible. You go.

It was a gorgeous afternoon and perfect for a drive. The last part of the trip to Grandma's pretty much looks like this...

...and this...

...and this. Quiet and calm and lovely. Arguably the best part of Ohio.

When we arrived, Grandma's one cherry tree seemed smaller to Sam than he had remembered. But, believe me, that tree was totally weighed down with ripe, delicious cherries. Even with more than a few hands working away and picking for at least a couple of hours, we still didn't get them all. We did get most of the ones we could reach, though. Enough for two pies for Grandma and about four deep dish pies for us.

These are tart cherries, by the way. Montmorency. They make the most amazing sour cherry pies. If you're a sour pie person like I am (I use granny smiths in my apple, for instance) and you've never had a sour cherry pie... I'm very, very sorry.

So, we got to picking almost as soon as we arrived and just picked the day away.

The girls worked really hard. They kept asking how many pies worth of cherries we had.

First we picked the two pies' worth that Grandma asked for. The children proudly took them to the house and delivered them to her when we were done.

Then, they started keeping track of our own pie count. I'm telling you, they were really excited about those cherries.

Even though they're sour and the pies really need sugar added, the cherries have a shocking tartness that makes it fun to eat them straight off the tree, too. Kind of like sour patch kids candy only about 400 times better. Grandma didn't spray the tree with insecticides at all, and we had just had several days of hard rain, so these little gems were squeaky clean. Yum.

Punkin and Little Dude started to get a little tired after a while. I couldn't really blame them; it wasn't as interesting for them once the cherries were all picked from the branches they could reach. Punkin is 5 and 1/2 and Little Dude is 3 - neither of them had ladder approval. So, they just hung around, played, and helped dump the little containers into the large bucket from time to time.

They still had fun.

They did both miss their rest times, though. Punkin doesn't need a rest as much as Little Dude does, but they were both showing signs of breaking down by dinner time.

We kissed and hugged Grandma a good dozen times each, packed up our cherries and children, and headed home.

It was a very good day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cast Iron Wall Hooks

Leave it to Etsy.

After tidying up Punkin and Little Dude's bedroom and finding a "place for everything" (which isn't easy, considering Punkin keeps everything), we still had two little bags that needed a permanent place to call home. It seemed like a wall hook of some sort placed behind the door might be just the ticket.

So, where does a girl go when she's in the market for wall hooks?

She could certainly go to Target. Here's a
very nice option for $7.99. It's a good looking hook.

Or she could spend a little more and, for $20 a pop, also get a little more pizazz. Like this hook from Anthropologie.

Lovely, isn't it?

But I wondered if it wasn't a little too girly for a shared room (?). It would be nice, I thought, to find something vintage. However, the closest flea market day for me is a good 2 months off. August, maybe.

This brings us to Etsy.

And, with a relatively quick search of the "vintage" category, I had a slew of "wall hooks" to browse through. One seller, in particular, kept showing up with some really original stuff. Fun hooks. Hooks with personality. The Anthro hook had personality, too, but these were more playful.

All hooks via
monkeyandsquirrel on Etsy...

Aren't they just perfect for a child's room? I think they are GREAT fun.

On occasion, when I like something like this I wonder if it skirts a little too close to the Tacky Line. There's whimsy and there's tacky, and I suspect one man's whimsy is another man's tacky and vice versa. I liked these hooks, though - so that should be all that matters, right? Right! If I were still doubting whether or not these little cast iron animal hooks were charming instead of tacky, though, this post from Apartment Therapy's Ohdeedoh would help out. I found it after I found the Etsy seller, and I felt confirmed, again, that I'm not out to lunch.

Someday I won't need that confirmation as much, but I'm just not yet to the place where I trust my gut completely. Working on it :)

I won't tell you which hook was my favorite. I need to wait a few more weeks for our next budget cycle before I buy it - hope it's still there!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

organizing "treasures" in bedroom 3

It's been a little while since we added the freshly painted wooden shelves to the bedroom 3 closet. I didn't want to put anything on them for weeks, for fear that something would stick to the paint. I don't know why it is, but things like shelves and tabletops can stay "sticky" for weeks after being painted, and if they don't have plenty of time to cure, their newly painted finish doesn't stand a chance against scuffs, marks, and rings.

So, I've only recently been willing to put anything on the shelves. Consequently, Punkin had made quite a little pile of "treasures" for herself in the closet corner during the last several weeks.

I pulled it all out the other day so we could take care of it.

Yeah. She looks real concerned about the mess.

She's such a little hoarder. I found the strangest stuff tucked into pockets and nooks. SweetP was exactly the same way at age 5. Give these girls a trinket and they shove it into a tiny pocket in no time.

Have you ever set out to tackle an organizing project and bought all kinds of bins and baskets to corral everything only to find that things didn't quite fit right or you have spent way too much money? I've totally done that. A lot. Let me tell you, I was so tempted to jump in the car and drive straight to IKEA that very hour. Interestingly, though, the organization pros actually say you shouldn't buy anything at first. The main thing is usually not needing a new spot to put things, but needing to get rid of things so you have less to put anywhere! The idea of brand new white bins lined up, crisp and clean, down the closet shelf certainly appeals to me, but, I harnessed my weirdo urges to buy organizing stuff to take care of our other stuff. For now, anyway. Until I have a better idea of exactly what we need, what size, and where we plan to put it!

The first thing we did was make use of the bin the child already had beneath her bed for items such as these. I really don't like clutter, but I do like sentimental little momentos, so I wanted the children to have a place for things like cards from their third birthdays. Of course, they also keep CDs from Chick-fil-a and Target receipts in there, too. Treasures. This bin under Punkin's bed is her stuff box. Some of the less meaningful items (aka junk) got tossed, by the way. Eventually, she was into the organizing and didn't mind parting with the kid's meal toys.

But, alas, all the treasures didn't fit into the stuff box, either. And, really, some things needed to be a little more easily accessed. Brother has his bottom dresser drawer filled with legos, so we pulled all of the wadded up treasures out of the bottom drawer on Punkin's side so she could have her own special drawer, too.

The drawer was lovely when we finished :)

The only problem was that we still had stuff left over. Punkin solved that problem by putting the wayward items into her travel bag. She keeps a travel bag, ready to go in a moment's notice, with all her necesseties. Very practical, this little hoarder is.

She has two bags now that still have no home. I'm not really sure they'd stay very neat at all just sitting on the closet shelf. She'd just stuff things in their general direction. We need to come up with another solution. I found some pretty cute wall hooks that might do double duty as organizers and charming prettiness. I'll share them with you in the next post.

These photos of the closet remind me that I haven't shown you the snazzy new hangers we bought for the children's clothes. Mismatched hangers are hardly the end of the world, and no child has ever been ruined by hanging their clothes on plastic ones, but when I found these child-sized wooden hangers on ebay for a steal, we snatched 'em up.

SweetP says the closet looks just like Lands' End Kids now.


We have quite a few of these hangers, so I'm hoping to get some of our extra clothes hung on the top closet rod for storage. More clothes hanging in the closet means fewer Rubbermaid storage bins in our garage ;)

Just in case you're wondering, I'm happy to report that it's been several weeks since we shaped up the pile o' treasures and Punkin has done a great job working on the habit of putting her things away in their special places. It looks much like in these photos. The bags are still on the floor behind the door, though, so that would be a good thing to address next.

Monday, June 21, 2010

neutral and classic doesn't have to = boring

After I had such a grand time putting together a clothing look the other day, I thought it would also be fun to illustrate the same principle with a sofa. With the clothing post, I shared how I might wear a very traditional, classic, pinstripe shirt from Banana Republic in a way that felt up-to-date and a little bit fun. Here, for a sofa, I chose the furniture version of a classic button down. A neutral sofa with great lines.

Like this one. The walls in the room would be painted Benjamin Moore's White Dove in a flat finish. Gray sofa. White walls. Neutral floor. Boring, right? Hold on...

Then, earlier this afternoon, while the children were seriously engrossed in pretending to be Hannah Kearney, Julia Mancuso, and a handful of other winter Olympians, I putzed around on Etsy. I know I said I wasn't really a navy girl. You'll have to forgive me. That was before I found
these. Maybe just one.

And to really get a serious pop of pattern and color, two of these one in each corner, with the navy fretwork pillow from above set in front of the left one :) I didn't realize I liked dragons so much, but this Schumacher fabric is super, super fun in very small doses. Like two pillows. These 3 pillows seem very happy to me.

Then, if I were really feeling spunky and if, say, it were the dead of winter and I really needed a boost. I might be coerced into using these on the windows (but without the tiebacks).

With white walls, I might be able to handle the orange :) They seem a little scary, but worth trying out. They're only curtains after all, and one of the best things about a neutral space is how much room you have for experimentation.

These green ones would be a little safer. Blue and green are possibly a tad too preppy and expected, though. I do think they would look wonderful with crisp, white walls and a mostly neutral room. Polo, anyone?

They both seem pretty dramatic for everyday, all year. I'd probably stick with the white window treatments most of the time. The colorful curtains are very fun, and I might like them for a little while (especially at those awesome IKEA prices), but I'd be far more likely to stick with the white window treatments and just add some apricot-colored flowers and some green McCoy vases, instead. Or, OR, I could just try to really keep the accents extra traditional and classic, like with blue and white transferware, and - who knows - maybe the orange would work.

So, put all together, our neutral living room would wind up something like this...

Hmmm... that's actually not all too much boldness is it? I kind of like the complimentary color scheme when it's on this neutral background. I like the multiple shades of blue and the flowers being a slightly lighter tone of apricot/orange than the curtains. It looks kind of Suzanne Kasler on a much less Kasler-y scale.


Or it would look like this...

Kind of boring, isn't it? It needs something. Those flowers are too blah now that they aren't echoing the curtain color anymore. Let's make them red.

That's a little better, but I think the curtains need to be more vivid - closer to kelly green. Eh - I'm not feeling the green curtains.

Now, what about if I just left the curtains classic, fresh white like the walls?

What do you think? I think the crispness totally adds to the look. White curtains are like a deep breath for me. Plus, the colors just pop out more with all that white. But, I do think the room needs something. It's just a little too safe. It needs something unexpected.

It needs - Madeline Weinrib.

That's it. That's perfect. That rug actually makes my heart palpitate.

If you have a moment, maybe you could check out my list of defining characteristics for our style in the sidebar. It's definitely still developing, but do you think this pretend room seems to line up with those elements?

P.S. I couldn't help it. Sam's working late - so I did one more :)

All I'm really changing in these is the rug and the curtains. Nice illustration of how easy it can be to get a completely different look with just one or two changes when you have a neutral base. Thanks for your thoughts, guys!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

defining our style: one of the BEST things i've done so far

Since moving into this house 18 months ago, Sam and I have been continually trying to get a better handle on our personal aesthetic as a couple and - taking it a little further - as a family. We've given up trying to find a nice & neat label by now; none of the concrete styles really seemed quite right. But we are, bit by bit, getting a more defined idea of what we want in our home and what fits.

Back in December, I mentioned that part of our difficulty with narrowing down the nearly endless styles in current design has been that part of me is drawn to part of nearly all of them. I see beauty in lots of different looks and I enjoy the mood created by many different types of rooms. (At least I was able to conclude from this observation that we're working toward some sort of eclecticism). But, I want a degree of order, too, and I want our home to feel cohesive and not all over the map. I want serenity, but I want fun. I want comfort, but I want a little formality. It's kind of an elusive balance, I think, because it's deeper than just following some formula like "3 different textures, 4 colors, 1 bold pattern" in a room. It's really about getting totally comfortable with who we are and what we find beautiful and comforting in a home.

There can be a lot of personal, introspective thinking in design.

It's also about being totally comfortable with knowing what our style is not. And this is where I left off last December. I had come to terms with the fact that several styles needed to be cut out of my blog list and magazine browsing. I knew I wasn't a traditonally cottage gal or that we aren't a "coastal" or "beachy" family. These styles can be strikingly beautiful, but they just aren't us. I went through my list of blogs and removed the ones that I knew for certain were not helping me define my style. In fact, several were confusing it. This editing of input has been, without a doubt, one of the best things I've done so far to clarify our home's design direction.

*That sounded way too serious. Put another way, I just mean that getting rid of the styles that definitely weren't us really helped me focus in on styles that might actually help me gain clarity.*

(Lauren Liess' home)

Shortly after this culling of blogs, I added Lauren Liess' Pure Style Home to my reading list. I thought it was worth while trying to get a few new blogs up for a trial period to see if they were helpful or not. Lauren has most definitely been helpful. In fact, I'd say that her blog has been one of the most influential for me in the last 6 months. This post on undesigned spaces and this recent post on truth in design, in particular, echoed thoughts I had had but also took those thoughts beyond my current level and challenged me. Those posts made me think and Lauren's killer approach to design inspires me without confusing me with a style that doesn't fit us.

Now, I'm realizing, it's time to make a few cuts again. Not that I won't ever read the blogs I'm about to cut. I just know that I need to step back from lots of varied input for a time - just until I know I've found my feet. I've spent 12-18 months looking long and hard at lots and lots of inspiration photos/articles from all kinds of angles. Now, I need to get a tighter vision, and that means a conscious editing of input.

The blogs I'm removing (but, sometimes, still reading because I feel some strange emotional attachment to a couple, in particular - I *like* these bloggers!) are really wonderful blogs. I mean really wonderful. But they are muddling my thinking in one way or another. My first edit has been so profitable that I really think the next step is a necessary one.

Caitlin Creer Interiors

If you're still trying to figure out your own personal (truly personal!) style, I'd recommend first spending plenty of time looking, looking, looking at lots of rooms from lots of sources. That step was critical for us. But, then, when you start to get a solid idea of where you are and are not heading with your designs, consider editing your influences - for a time - to help get a clearer direction.

That's where we are at this point. So, every design blog that's listed in our sidebar right now is there because I think it's helpful in further defining our style. Some are not design blogs, but are just blogs that I enjoy and that have something to do with making our home. Some are up there "on trial" - I'm checking them out for a bit to see if they're helpful. If you think you might have a personal style similar to our own in some ways, I encourage you to check them out. You might find a new one that you really like :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Smoothest Laundry Room of All Time

Last week, I shared some images of laundry/craft room combinations that really got my creative juices going. But, I left one of my inspiration spaces out of the post. It's my favorite, so I wanted it to have a post all its own.

It's from the home of Sarah Hartill, editor of Canadian House & Home (which is fast becoming one of my favorite shelter publications). I love nearly everything about this room. It's just relaxed enough, yet just put together enough. It's punchy but still serene. Orderly, but not in a hyper-managed way. It's a fanstastic example of how a room can begin solely neutral, but still wind up with plenty of color. And that rug makes me smile every time I see it.

The room still looks good with a different rug, too, though :) I thought it was interesting to find two images of this room, differing only in the floor covering.

Something about all of the pattern Hartill used, maybe. Or the cheery colors. Or both. I wonder if she knew ahead of time that the washer and dryer were going to reflect the rug like that. Almost like a mirror. I suspect that was a happy accident.

Here's another view of the room with the striped rug - which is my preference between the two choices.

It's pretty safe to say that I'm sold on a bold rug for the laundry room now. And I believe I must have pegboard.

Now, back to the brown graphic rug one more time...

It's funny, I posted the image above (from Apartment Therapy) back in April, when I first started thinking about adding a desk in the laundry room. I hadn't seen the rest of the room at that point. When I stumbled upon the photos that show the sink area, I didn't realize at first that the opposite side of the room was the room I'd already locked away in my little brain. The rug tipped me off, though, and once I realized they were photos of the same room, I was giddy.

A few things to notice:

Hartill painted the far wall in light blue as an accent wall to balance the blue of the map across from it. It seems from the photos that the painted wall is a shade or two lighter than the map, but definitely taking a cue from it's color.

That same blue only appears a few other times in the room, and in seemingly insignificant ways. But, because so much of the room is white, stainless, or otherwise neutral, those blues really pop out.

There is no earthly reason why that sink fabric would work with the blue - or a map, for that matter. But it all works so beautifully. More so, I think, than it would have had Hartill chosen a color from the floral for the accent wall or had she chosen a vintagey map with the creams, taupes, and roses found in the fabric. The mismatch is the key to this room's personality.

The rugs, both of them, are strong both in pattern and color and are immediately a grounding focal point to a rather full, small room.

I think one of the biggest things to note from this room is Hartill's restraint. Had the ironing board cover been patterned or brightly colored, or had she used the reds or pinks or golds instead of white, glass, and stainless for the many containers and bins, the room would've had a much busier feel. All of the white, glass, and stainless really work to set the stage to let the sink fabric, map, rug, and accent wall star. There isn't too much visual competition.

Let me just take a minute here to beat this into my head.




Gotta remember that.

I love this room.

Love it.

A few quick links to black and white striped rugs -

CB2 flor tiles (no kidding?!)

Ballard Designs indoor/outdoor rug

Or a more traditional, less modern version from Dash & Albert