Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Subject: Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Can I just say....DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!  Ina's Beatty's Chocolate Cake was so moist, and chocolate-y, but not too much.  I ended up adding instant coffee to the frosting, however, I think next time I would leave it out.  I could kind of taste the coffee in it, and since I'm not a coffee drinker, I think you can pass on it.  The actual cake part though was TO DIE FOR!!  Coffee and all!  

Peach's Beatty's Chocolate Cake

So, wondering your thoughts on this switch up? What do you think about doing a light, Cool Whip-esq dollop in the center and top instead of the chocolate frosting.  I thought that with some fresh berries, preferably raspberries, it would be quite tasty.  Then your taste buds and tummy could focus exclusively on the cake part.

To another Ina success!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Re: The Perfect Shoe

Happy Cyber Monday!  (I couldn't resist.)  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the shoes.  They are the perfect dress up/dress down kind of pair.  I don't know how you didn't already scoop them up.  I think it must be because you have better self control than I do.  

I myself, with my lacking self-control, picked up a few things on Friday from one of our very favorite stores, JCrew.  I couldn't resist the 25% off they were offering and I was in dire need of some new work from home clothes.  Since we moved, I've been on a mission to wake up, get dressed, put on a little make up and work from the home office.  This is a huge departure from my old routine...wake up, stay in pajamas and work from the couch.  So far, minus today, I've been able to stay on track.  With the temperature dropping, I have been on the hunt for some "work appropriate" sweats.  Now, I didn't want to get the type of sweatpants you could buy in Target.  I have been looking for something a little more fitted, that I could wear in public and that Stacey and Clinton would hopefully approve of.  

Here are my Black Friday Purchases...
JCrew Skinny Ultra Lounge Pant

JCrew Ultra-Knit Un-Sweatpant

I also picked up a pair of the Signature Black Leggings and the Dream Zip Henley in black.  I figured the sweater can go with all my pants purchases!  Everything will be here on Wednesday, which should be fun since I ordered the Ultra Lounge Pants in two different colors and all the pants in two sizes!  Once they start throwing XXS and XS into the mix I always think it affects the other sizes which leaves be to wonder what size I would take.  Let's just say Wednesday will definitely be, "Fashion show, fashion show, fashion show at lunch!"

I have so many other things to share.  On the list is Beatty's Chocolate Cake, our dining room, Anthropologie + shower curtain love, a collage of pictures and overall home wall decor.  I will blog back soon to fill you in on all the wonderful details and my Thanksgiving weekend house progress.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Subject: The Perfect Shoe

Hello and happy Black Friday!

To go along with this National Day of Shopping, I thought I would send something completely frivolous and fun. Now that I am home full-time, I have been thinking through my new wardrobe for this new role. Obviously it needs to be washable (soooo washable) and not overly dressy, but I don't want to fall into the habit of schlepping around in sweats with my hair in a greasy ponytail. (That's apparently an easy trap to fall into. Otherwise shows like What Not to Wear would not be in business!)

So, I'm now investing in pieces that can be dressed up or down depending on the accessories and the occasion. I have also realized that during these childbearing years I am going to be, like, 14 different sizes. (So far I have experienced pre-pregnancy, early pregnancy, maternity size, post-pregnancy when nothing fit, post-pregnancy when some early pregnancy pieces fit, post pregnancy when everything fits except for my tops - thanks nursing! - and then I guess I'll eventually get back to pre-pregnancy when I stop nursing.) So maybe what I should really be concentrating on is quality, timeless accessories. To whit: Aren't they fabulous? They are Michael Kors and I found them on Zappos. I feel like they would be perfect with skirts or dresses, Bermuda shorts, and maybe even jeans. The only season they wouldn't work is the dead of winter (however, I do live in Florida, so maybe?) and I think they are a nice alternative to flipflops/sandals in the summer. Not sure if I will be making them mine anytime soon, but I think I will be in the market for more pieces like this.

What about you? What have you been stocking your wardrobe with, since you are home now too? Did you pick up any steals today???

The Holidays are officially upon us - yikes!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Re: Coupons and Crates

Melissa -

I am so impressed! You guys are seriously on a roll when it comes to acquiring investment pieces using coupons! Coupons and online codes are seriously the way to go. Whenever I make an online purchase now, I always do a quick search to find any promo codes online. Usually I can find a code for free shipping or a certain percentage off my purchase. Seriously, why not?

And I completely agree with you - for now this piece will work great to hold all your television accoutrements, but in the future it would make the perfect sideboard for a dining room or even a console table behind a couch. Do you know what I'm loving these days? Topiaries. I'm picturing one on either end of this piece to flank your television on the wall and to give some height to the setting. Here are some holiday ones from Target:

Right now they are about $30/each, but they will probably be on major clearance after New Year's. Just a suggestion. I am definitely incorporating topiaries if/when I ever re-do my kitchen!

Thanksgiving will be at my grandmother's. It's what we've always done. It's fun and very much my family, but there are so many of us that it's buffet-style in the dining room and then we disperse to eat - usually men outside and the women at the table on the back porch. The best part: no cooking for me! But I look forward to the day when I host myself and get to use all the gourmet Thanksgiving recipes and table settings from magazines that I have been saving over the years!

My only tip on Beatty's Chocolate Cake: for the icing, really let the butter come to room temperature. It is seriously such good icing and room temperature butter makes all the difference in the world. I've started calling it Stomachache Cake because I usually end up with some icing left over that I continually eat out of the bowl and then I feel terrible afterwards! Just a warning :)

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and talk to you soon!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Subject: Coupons and Crates

HAPPY MONDAY!  And Almost Turkey Day!!

So, we have now made another very grown up purchase...Drum Roll Please....
Crate & Barrel - Paloma Large Sideboard

While it was just a little (or a lot) more than we wanted to spend for a tv stand, my justification is that in future homes it can go in a dining room or even in a bedroom.  So, therefore I believe we will have it forever.  Just like your Rhys coffee table!  But let me just tell you, we got the deal of all deals - just the other day a 15% off coupon to Crate & Barrel arrived!!  On the furniture front, I've now purchased both piece with coupons!!  Now, I don't think I can or will ever purchase furniture from Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn without a coupon!  Now that I know they are out there!!

What's your plan for Thanksgiving?  We are going to my mom's.  I ordered two pumpkin pies from Publix because they make the best pumpkin pie EVER!  And you've inspired me to make Beatty's Chocolate Cake.  Any recipe secrets/changes you've incorporated?  I didn't pick up instant coffee for the frosting, but I figured we'd survive.  Will let you know how it pans out.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Re: Subject: The Nursery

Kara - Are you not like SOOOO proud of yourself?!?  The nursery looks amazing and the time and hard work you put into it is evident!  While, I am of course impressed by every little detail, here are the few things that stuck out to me:

1.  BRAVO on painting the Jenny Lind crib and changing table.  You said you might have cried a few times...I am crying just thinking about how much time went into that!  It was worth it though because the black has a really dramatic effect with everything else in the room.

2.  The bedding...WOWZER Mrs. F!  I cannot believe that everything was made by hand?  Is your momma for hire?  :)  And the fabric is gorg!  I am especially smitten with the floral bed/crib skirt.  Does it have a special name when it's on a crib??  :)

3.  The teapot silhouette teapots are awesome!  I cannot believe you made those.  I was thinking it might be kind of cute to have silhouettes of my dogs in the house.  But maybe the only reason that popped into my mind is because I just read an article on Gwyneth Paltrow's Holiday Gift Guide and it included these silhouette necklaces.

4.  Loving the idea of the suitcase for the keepsakes!  Now that we are moved in and I've pretty much unpacked every box, I realize I have all these keepsakes and trinkets and nowhere to really store them.  I think Suz will definitely appreciate having all her little baby memories in one very cute "storage" case.

5.  Your childhood memories.  I think it's so sweet that you have things from your childhood throughout the room.  I have this teddy bear that one of my dearest friends, and soon-to-be first house guest, gave me for my 3rd or 4th birthday.  I've decided that the bear's new home is in what Hubby refers to as the 4th bedroom and what I refer to as the "Baby's Room."  You know, the one I am not expecting.  :)

Teddy Bear in the "Baby's Room"/4th Bedroom

Close-up of Teddy - (This was done at his request, being the first time on a blog and all!)

Well, congrats again on a job well done.  I wonder what our readers think of the nursery and what their favorite part is??  We know they are out there!!   


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Subject: The Nursery

Mel -

I hope you have some free time, because I have a lot to write about today! It may have taken me 8 months after Suz was born to send you the final pictures of The Nursery, but here they are! I cannot wait to show it off to you and tell you all about it, especially after we went back and forth with so many links and ideas and suggestions. Let me just say, I love the final product. I wanted something that was sweet and girly and classic, and that is exactly how it turned out. And, I think the room totally reflects Suz too - sweet, girly and classic. Enjoy!

Here is a shot from the door:

The room isn't very big, but it was the perfect size for a baby (they're small, you know?). I love how the room feels really cozy, with furniture encircling the entire room. The little alcove was the perfect spot for a changing table and I love that it is by the window. (I hate the mini blinds, so please ignore those.) I found out last fall that I was having a girl and I have to admit, I was a little bit inspired by Mad Men. (I felt bad for Betty Draper, though - we both thought we were having girls and it turned out only one of us was right!) I was really drawn to the classic look of the Jenny Lind style of crib and changing table and got real steals on both off Craiglist. I painted them both black, which was one of the most time-intensive projects I have ever taken on and several times I didn't know if I would finish. It didn't help that I was super hormonal and thus emotional - I may have cried once or twice when I thought I could not go on. And while I realize now it was nothing compared to actual labor, I do consider it one of many labors of love I have endured for this little girl.

Here is the before, during and after of crib painting:

And the changing table:

As I said, the changing table is also the Jenny Lind style and was originally white. I love how much open storage it has. The baskets are from Marshalls and not only are they the perfect size for stowing diapers and burp cloths, but the sides are low enough that everything is within easy reach. The buckets are from Lowe's and I like how they bring in a different texture to the room. Plus they are virtually indestructible and are nice and deep for holding toys, blankets and shoes.

Above the changing table hangs this mobile:

When I was 14 and in Switzerland on a band trip (see, being in band did have some perks) I saw it hanging in the window of a wooden toy shop. I immediately fell in love with it and bought it at once. I then hauled it all the way through Italy and back home, where it hung in my bedroom for the rest of my youth and finally made the move to my house when I was working on The Nursery. The colors match the space perfectly and I love the story behind it. Little did I know that when I bought it, it would one day hang in my daughter’s nursery! (Oh, and most importantly, Suz loves it too.)

Here is a shot of wall the door is on:

The chair is from Wal-Mart and I love it. I knew I wanted an upholstered rocking chair (versus a wooden one with cushions) but a glider was a little outside of our budget. This chair fits the space and the fabric is the perfect neutral color for Suz now or a boy in the future. The fabric has also held up really well. I would recommend this chair to anyone. It’s a steal price-wise and you order the chair cover separately in the color you want, which means it can be removed and washed. We did the Site-to-Store option so we didn’t have to pay for shipping and assembly was easy. The blanket on the chair was a shower gift and the little pillow in the chair was a gift from one of my aunts. It’s Humpty Dumpty and I had one when I was growing up, so I think it’s sweet to have in Suz’s room now.

I knew I wanted some kind of ottoman or footstool for this room, but I also knew that a big ottoman wouldn’t fit. I told my husband that I would find a cheap footstool somewhere for $10 and make it pretty myself. And that’s exactly what I did! Here’s the before:

The transformation is amazing, right? The fun thing about this little footstool is that the cushion is on hinges so there is a little storage area too. So cool!

Here are some close-ups of this wall:

The bookcase is from a vintage shop in town. It was originally white and cost me $30. I balked at the price a little bit, but when my husband unloaded it from the car and then carried it up the stairs after it was painted, he complained that it was very heavy for its size. Then a friend of mine came over with her daughter who was pulling up on furniture, and this bookcase did not even wobble when she used it to stand. So now I feel great about the price of this piece because I know it will last a long time and there’s no danger of it tipping. The lamp is by Shabby Chic and was on clearance at Target. I wore the ballerina costume for Halloween when I was 3-year-old and used a simple poster frame to mount it. I used a vintage bone dish as a container to hold pacifiers. The upholstered box was a shower gift – doesn’t it match the room perfectly? I love it.

The shelf is from Michael’s and was originally a wood finish and I painted it white. The S is a cardboard letter that I painted myself (I love all the hints of blue in the room – so vintage!) and the tea set was one I had growing up…I could not believe how perfectly it matched! The little top is vintage that a friend gave me as a “so happy you’re pregnant” gift.

And here is the room’s piece de resistance: the crib. My mom made the bedding...isn’t that so impressive? The fabric is Lucinda Blue by Maddie Boo and I found it the cheapest here. We used white seersucker on the bumpers and then my mom piped the bumpers in the same fabric as the crib skirt and used grosgrain ribbon for the ties. The poms are amazing and I think make a room that might otherwise seem a little too adult really whimsical and fun. I ordered them from the Etsy shop PomLove. I know you can make them, but at that point I was on Project Overload and could not handle the thought of searching for the perfect colors of tissue paper and then figuring out how to make them. I think I paid $25 for all five and got to choose the colors I wanted for each of the three sizes.

Next to the crib is this:
I picked up the chair at an estate sale for $10 and painted white. The paper suitcase is from Pink Loves Brown and is perfect for holding shower and pregnancy cards, ultrasound pictures and our little bracelets from the hospital – all the stuff you don’t know what to do with but you know you want to keep! The rabbit I had growing up and the prints I made myself. Here is a close-up:

I cut the silhouettes out myself using black poster board and then stretched fabric behind them. I think they’re really cute and fun for a little girl’s room.

The only area I’m kind of blah about is the dresser. I ordered a really cute lamp from eBay that was a white teapot base and a sage green shade, but it got destroyed en route and it was the only one the seller had in that color. Sad! The silver jewelry box is from my lovely friend Peach and the black & white box was a gift from some friends – they gave us cigars tied with pink ribbon to hand out to friends and family at the hospital. Jon was thrilled…that’s such a great gift for dads!

Phew! I think I covered everything. Like I said, I love how the whole thing came together and it was so fun to plan a room from scratch, start to finish. I had never done that before – usually I started with something – but once I had my inspiration (the fabric) and my vision (girly & sweet), I really got into it.

Have a fab-u-lous weekend!

P.S. My quiet, non-busy week has turned surprisingly busy and hectic, which meant no bathroom painting. I have bought the paint, though, so hopefully it will be a pre-Thanksgiving project next week!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Re: A Very Grown Up Purchase

Oh my blog, Melissa! I love your new dresser! And I totally get what you mean about "investment" pieces of furniture. Something that is classic that you love now and know you will love forever is worth a little splurge. It's like investing in a classic pencil skirt or trench coat...I love comparing home decor to clothes shopping :)

That is the experience we had when purchasing our coffee, pictured below. It is the Rhys Coffee Table by Pottery Barn. I loved that it had storage drawers AND an open display area. We use it to show off our coffee table books and the drawers are the perfect size for VHS tapes (we still have a few left) and other odds & ends that needed a home. It was pricey, but we bought it in-store and brought it home ourselves, so we saved on shipping, plus we had some money on a gift card, which didn't make a huge dent in the purchase total...in fact, I think it only covered the tax, but whatever! It was totally worth it and I can't imagine us ever getting rid of it. And, after 3+ years of daily use, it still looks great.

I wish you and your new dresser all the best and hope you have a long and happy life together.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Re: Tarjay

Hi friend!

So, what's so funny about your post: I have the green soap pump too! It's in my master bath...maybe you saw it by the sink in the "before" photo a few posts back? It's small and in the corner, but it's there! I got it last winter and had been eyeing it for awhile before finally purchasing. I think it looks like an old-fashioned water pump or something. To me, little details and accessories in a room are just like jewelry on an outfit.

Also, I do not think your Anthro bathroom will be ruffle overload. It sounds lovely and girly and fun! I love those hand towels too. So classy. I liked one of the bath mats you suggested too...I think I will be in market soon.

The plan is to buy paint tomorrow and start painting during Suz's power nap on Wednesday morning.

I'll keep you posted!

Subject: A Very Grown Up Purchase

So, Hubby and I just made a very important, and very grown up purchase.  While we know that I am not one to shy away from thrifty finds, (I mean, I still own those chairs that I once found on the side of the street.  More on those in the near future!) we decided that there were certain pieces of furniture in our house that we were willing to spend some money on as they would be "investment pieces." Our thinking is we will have them forever as we will always find a place for them no matter where we live.  Besides that, we were very fortunate to end up with some wedding money, so that is helping to pay for the investments.  :)

Today, I decided to stop into Restoration Hardware after seeing this beautiful dresser in the massive catalog I recently received.  I wasn't sure if they were going to have the piece in the store, but since it was on my way to the mall, (where I purchased these amazingly soft towels during Bloomingdale's Friends & Family sale) I took the chance.  Of course, it was there, and lucky for me they, too, were having a Friends & Family Sale, which meant 20% off!!!!  

And without further ado, here is our brand new dresser, which will be making an appearance in our bedroom in 2 - 4 weeks.  I will be sure to take pictures and send them to you once it's in.

Restoration Hardware - Printmaker's Sideboard

Detailed Shot

How's the master bath revamp coming along?  Can't wait to hear all about it.  Have a great week!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Subject: Tarjay


I know you are hard at work on the master bathroom re-do, and while we didn't discuss the need for new accessories, I couldn't resist sharing some of the fabulous finds I've recently spotted (and purchased) at Tarjay aka Target.

Coincidentally, a fabulous Georgia blogger posted pictures of her friend's home last week, which included some of the fab Target finds.  

via K.F.D. Designs blog
The soap pump...AMAZING and only $12.99.  Which isn't a true steal, but I do love it.  I originally bought in white for my "Anthropologie Ruffled Bathroom," but since I want to paint the walls a milky white color, I picked up a greenish-blue color instead.  And because I'm slightly obsessed with the soap pump, I've decided I think I'm going to keep the white one, buy one more and use it in my master bathroom once we redo it.  Is it weird I will have 3 of the same soap pump?!?  I mean, not that many people will be using the master bath, so I figured it was fine.  Then I'm think silver garbage can.  

Then, check out the hand towel in the picture.

Some of the reviews said the ruffles are pink, but mine are clearly white.  So, I just bought one hand towel for the Anthro Bathroom.  Is it ruffle overkill??  I mean, I love me some ruffles.  Before Hubby and I tied the knot, I would always make him guess what my wedding dress looked like.  He said it definitely has ruffles....and it did.  One big ruffle.  

Okay, here are a few more great Tarjay bathroom accessories, although I did not purchase any of these.  They aren't by any means the cheapest bathroom accessories in the world, but if you want to spend $50 on a bathroom makeover, I think Target is definitely a good place to start.

Can't wait to see your redone bathroom.

Target - $12.99  (I kind of loved this one, too.  It looks like something they would sell in Anthro for $30.)

Target - $24.99

Target - $24.99

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Re: Re: Re: Subject: Master Bath

GOOOOOOOD MORNING!!  Can I tell you how happy I am it's Wednesday?  Since, Hubby is off tomorrow because of his fabulous state job, I'm going to take off, too.  Which means work today and Friday and then the big move!!!

Okay, on to the bathroom....I completely agree about the love for white accents/trim and how they pop against wall color, and I am very happy you've decided to paint the frame and light fixture a glossy white.  I don't think you will at all regret it.

Look at the white pop - via ArhZine
So, paint colors.  I know the headache!  I will have to share mine with you soon.  It comes in shades of blue for the dining room.  Thanks for the pictures and for lettering them.  VERY HELPFUL!  I think it's funny that you narrowed it down to D, E and F only because on the screen they look NOTHING alike.  Which I guess is not a bad thing, but my narrowing always seems to end up that things are so darn close and you can't actually tell the difference.   I know that sometimes the color does not translate well from in-person to picture, but these are my thoughts.

A. - Looks like it may be a little dark.
B. - This ranks as one of my favorites.  I know you mentioned it might be a little dark though.
C. - Looks like the color of someone's skin who uses too much self-tanner.  (I couldn't resist)
D. - This is also on my favorites list.
E. - Another potential self-tanner color?!
F. - It looks a little pink.  I don't know if manly Jon would approve.  :)
G & H.. - Agree with the flesh comment and G isn't too much of a change from what you have already have, is it?
I. - I think it also has some great potential.  
J. - This one is reading coral-y pink to me.

I guess my favorites are B., D., I., which makes D. our one in common as first-round favorites.  I can't wait to see what you choose!  When will the paint go on the wall???

via Interior Design Color

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Re: Re: Subject: Master Bath

Mel -

To begin: I love the benefit of your insight. After reading your response to my bathroom post and thinking it over, I cannot even remember why I ever wanted to paint the light fixture and mirror frame black! Seriously, that makes no sense. So thank you - I think I would have regretted it. Instead, I think I am going to do the light a glossy white and the frame the same. I like the idea of painting the light a fun color from the shower curtain, but I think that might be limiting if I were ever to get a different shower curtain - I would have to take the color of the light into account. I think everything in white will look good against the new paint color (more on that in a minute) - I love how white accents/trim pops against wall color and I agree - my house is too cottage-y for a black fixture and frame!

I went to the Benjamin Moore store yesterday because I knew they would have the Pottery Barn paint chips and uggggghhhh...paint samples are sooo overwhelming! Here is what I wish: I have an overall idea of what I want the bathroom to look like - the finished product is in my brain - and I wish there was some way to print off my mental picture and take it to a paint counter and say, "Here - mix me up some of this." Because once I start looking at all the options and possibilities, the original idea in my head completely vanishes and I feel totally lost. So, I brought home every beige-ish brown color. I did the same thing when I went to the Sherwin-Williams store today. Below are the finalists.

Okay, so...where to begin? I have decided that I want a true brown - nothing with yellow/golden undertones. In my mind I'm thinking a light chocolate milk-y color...like with more milk than chocolate - if that makes sense? This bathroom gets a ton of light, so I think darker is okay. Plus, all the fixtures will be white, plus the Roman shade will eventually be white. The countertop (which you can see in the picture above) is just a neutral, which is nice, but I want to make sure the paint color isn't too close in color, because that would look weird. The counter, though, has more of a pink undertone, so I don't think I'll have that problem with the finalists I've selected. Here are my thoughts:

A & B: These are one in the same to me. Probably a little dark. (A is Mesa Tan and B is Tamarind, both by Sherwin-Williams)

C: I really like this one, but I wonder if it's too dark? And will it read orange on the wall? Sorry it's such a small sample. (Morille by Benjamin Moore)

D: I like this one, but is it enough of a change? It's definitely darker than what I have. The middle color of this strip is what my downstairs is painted and I really like it. (Shelburne Buff by Benjamin Moore; my downstairs is called Dunmore Cream, BTW)

E &F: Both are top contenders in my book. They are definitely the 'true brown' that I am going for. F is a little light, though, don't you think? Would it be much of a change? (E is Acorn Yellow and F is Yellow Squash, both by Benjamin Moore)

G & H: I thought these were contenders, but now they seem a little flesh-y and the darkest color seems to have a lot of yellow in it, so I wonder how the lighter colors will look on the wall...would they also "read" yellow? (G is Bagel and H is Totally Tan, both by Sherwin-Williams)

I & J: These I really like. They are similar to D, E and F and the darkest color is dark brown, so I think either of these would definitely look brown on the wall. (I is Familiar Beige and J is Sensational Sand)

Please tell me you have some brilliant thoughts and insight! I think if I had to choose today, I think I would pick D, E or F. What about you?


Monday, November 8, 2010

Re: Subject: Master Bath

Happy Monday, K!!

Boy do I know what it feels like to want a master bath re-do!!  AJ and I aren't even in the new house yet, but it will be one of our first major projects sometime in the future.  Worst part is, I don't think we will quite get away with spending $100!!  It needs to be gutted, not just freshened.  However, I do think yours can be accomplished for $100, and I think you have some great ideas.

Okay, first, the mirror...
I say leave it as is, but spruce it up with a frame!!  I think between trying to get it off the wall, which isn't there a chance it could shatter?, and then spending the money to cut it, you should spend the money on getting the wood to frame it.  Follow Isabella & Max's mom's lead.  (Thanks to my own momma for the link!!)  Plus, the bigger the mirror, the bigger the room will look which I think is key.  As far as the black, I was thrown off a bit.  I think your house is so quaint and charming and then you have the shabby chic curtain in those soft colors and you want to do the walls soft, so I would think the frame would look great in white.  You know me though and white household objects.  White dishes, white china, white towels, white sheets....

Then for the light I have two ideas.  The first one, I am contemplating on doing in our downstairs guest bathroom.
1.  Would you consider pulling a color, a muted color, from your shower curtain and spray painting the fixture that color?  I also want beigey-white milky (weird description!) walls and so I thought a pop of color would be fun.  I was going to paint the fixture, towel ring and toilet paper holder all the same.
2.  Second suggestion...since you are saving the money on cutting the mirror, why not buy a new fixture??  They have some great choices at Home Depot for $30.  Here's one and here's another.  Might be worth checking out Target, too?!?  Or even Wal-Mart.

I think you are on the right path.  Let me know if any questions come up along the way.  I can't wait to see how it turns out.  Oh, and if you need some cheap accessories...TARGET!  I will e-mail you this week about the cute things I found.


AMAZING BATHROOM! via Fancy Buffalo

Friday, November 5, 2010

Re: Subject: Calling All Maddicts!

Hey Kara - 

What an awesome idea for a party!!  Is it your friend's birthday or did she just want to do something fun for a group of friends??

So, I remembered (I think last year) Oprah did a show on Mad Men.  I found this which may be helpful.  It includes some drink and food ideas that were shared on her show.  I think you are on the right track with many of the ideas.  Little Sally Draper pouring drinks seems like it qualifies under something you do not want child protective services to hear about, but then again maybe the kid will end up with some good tips!

I think for the drinks I like the idea of doing the pitchers with the drinks named after the characters.  I can see them with little signs next to each pitchers, maybe in mini frames??  For the game, maybe you could set it up like a game show from the 1960's.  Have you ever watched The Match Game??  There are two players and then I think six panelists.  The host asks a phrase, usually funny, like, "Don Draper is always lucky when it comes to the ladies.  It must be his really big ____________."  The the panel would write something on a card and the contestant who's question it is would write something on their card.  Your goal is to get the most matches possible.   So, there isn't really a right or wrong answer, it would just be good for those who really knew the characters because they have a better chance of matching.  Plus, it would be hysterical to see how people answer that one!!  Playing old episodes of the show in the background is key, and music from that decade is also important.  

It seems like you hit on everything.  Not sure if she is planning on doing invitations, but I think finding vintage ads and somehow incorporating them in the invite would be cool.  Otherwise, they could also work for party decor and framing them would be fun.  They could go on the drink and food tables.  I bet some of the thrift stores in town have old copies of magazines and she could pull them from there or find them online.

I can't wait to see how everything turns out!!  You definitely have to share pictures.  Oh, remember Hubby and I based our engagement pictures on Mad Men.  Everything I wore was from my closet, except the hat.  Don't you have that cowl neck JCrew dress??  I think that will totally work.  And if you want to borrow my hat, let me know.  I actually found it at Target! 

Have a great weekend!

Photography:  W. Scott Chester

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Subject: Master Bath


So, I have been displeased with my master bath for awhile, but I have finally come up with a plan to fix it that will be a) fast and b) cheap. My goal is to do it for less than $100. From the picture below you can see the vanity (only one sink, I know - boo!) with the mirror and light fixture.

The two biggest fixes are going to be on these two objects. I want the mirror to look more custom, so I am going to glue trim pieces to it to make it look like it is framed. My question: should I have the mirror cut smaller? The tape represents the approximate size of the mirror if I were to cut it. I can take it to the local glass place here and they can cut it for no more than $40. (I originally called them to get an estimate on how much it would be if they cut it into an oval, and that is the quote they gave me, but it might be less since it would only require one cut.) You'll notice the light fixture is centered over the sink, instead of the whole vanity, so if I were to cut the mirror I would then center it under the light when I re-hung it. Cutting the mirror would create some blank wall space, so I think I would hang two small places or pictures there. The biggest pro to not cutting the mirror is that this project could then be done even faster. But I think the pros to cutting it are 1) a more custom look and b) the mirror would be centered under the light fixture.

Then here is the light fixture:

Ugh! I cannot stand it. Please ignore the thick layer of dust and instead focus on how it's not quite metal and looks like it's painted with matte gray paint. But instead of buying a brand new fixture, my father-in-law suggested I take it down and paint it a glossy black, which I think could be a h-uge improvement. He also suggested I use the same glossy paint to paint the trim around the mirror. Thoughts? I would keep the same shades (but maybe clean them) and switch out the faux-candle bulbs for some round ones.

Next, we need to talk about paint. Here is my shower curtain:

It's nothing fancy. It's Shabby Chic from Target that we've had since before we got married. It's simple and pretty neutral (it's striped sage green, pale blue and white, in case it's not clear from the picture). For now I'm going to keep it, but if I find something fabulous then I wouldn't mind replacing it, but I don't feel it's a priority for this project.

My idea of paint color came from the September 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Because I don't have my scanner hooked up and this was faster, here is a quick picture of my inspiration:

I like the idea of doing a cross between the darker beige on the right and the color on the upper left. Pottery Barn also has some great moody beiges, which you can view here. The bathroom is already cream, but I would like to do something darker that will really pop against the white trim (there's crown moulding that you can't see) but would also look really sophisticated next to my (new) black mirror and light fixture.

I would love to know your thoughts. I would like to do this project next week if possible!

Hoping for lots of inspiration,

P.S. The mini blinds are awful. I know. The plan is for my mom to come over for a few days in December and I will put her to work doing lots of sewing projects that are above my skill level, including a Roman shade for that window. So those mini blinds' days are numbered!

Subject: Calling All Maddicts!

Mel -

So a friend of mine is hosting a Mad Men party and has solicited my input for coming up with party ideas. Her basic premise is that we all wear Mad Men-inspired clothes and have cocktails and hors'dourves, but she wanted to think of a few other things so it's not just a night of eating and drinking (which would still be awesome, let's be honest!).

My initial thoughts:
  • If possible, have a small child mixing cocktails and serving drinks, a la Sally Draper.
  • Have the same small child dress up in a ballet costume and perform a small recital
  • Maybe have modern drinks, but give them old-fashioned names, like "Gimlet." (That's the only one that comes to mind.) And obviously she would need to have Heineken.
  • OR she could make pitchers of already-mixed drinks (so many magazine articles say this is easiest on the hostess) and then call them things from the show: Betty's Crazy Juice, Sterling's Gold, etc.
  • We could do some sort of Mad Men trivia, which would be way fun and separate the Maddicts from the casual viewer. Interspersing some trivia about that time period might also be nice if there are any non-watchers in attendance.
  • One time in Real Simple they suggested playing old Christmas movies for a holiday party (like Miracle on 34th Street or It's a Wonderful Life) but have them on mute so they're just in the background. So maybe she could play one of the seasons on DVD...
  • Setting up a photo area where couples can get their pictures taken in their Man Men outfits. Maybe have a winged-back chair where the lady can sit (with crossed ankles, natch) and the man can stand behind. Also, there could be some Mad Men props on hand, like a fedora or an old copy of Life magazine.
  • It will be a non-smoking group, so maybe candy cigarettes and ashtrays everywhere.
  • Of course lots of music from that time period.

Honestly, my mind is going blank a little bit. All I can think about is Season 4 because it was so intense and so many things changed. Any thoughts???


P.S. I am also planning my outfit. My goal will be to only pull things from my closet and not buy anything. I think I have a surpising number of Mad Men-esque pieces. I feel so classy and Jackie O.!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Re: Subject: Birthday Dinner

K -

While it looks like no one has commented on your post, both Mary's Little and Lambchop have contacted me regarding your birthday dinner!!  Let's just say they are not too pleased.  The chops look delish, but I cannot say I'm a fan.  My mom never cooked them when I was little because my grandma used to make them for her and she swore they smelled like BO!  On that note, they did look great and as long as Jon was happy, that's what counts!!

The polenta and cake both are on the top of my favorites list.  I have yet to try to make polenta at home though, so I might have to give it a whirl.

Great job in the kitchen!!  Homemakering at it's best!!

PS - What was the restaurant you were interested in trying?  Don't forget I had a short stint in Tally!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Re: Re: Subject: Accent Walls

Miss Kara -

I love that I turn to you for advice, only to be told that wall decor basically scares you!!  :)  However, it's your honesty that keeps this friendship alive and well..  Just like the time you told me my favorite chandelier, the one that I hope to have in my dining room one day, looks like a spider!

Pottery Barn

So, I totally agree that one day I will get sick of whatever I decide to put on the tv wall and therefore I am not going to do anything with wall paper.  I really love that stripped wall with all the pictures, but I am thinking I am going to have to save it for a guest room or maybe the living room.  Hubby has decided he wants to hang the tv on the wall, so that won't leave much room for pictures.  And that pretty much answers one of your questions.  We are going to get a long tv stand, but we want the tv to be visible at all times.  I just need somewhere to store the DVR and DVD player along with the hundreds of DVDs and VHS tapes.  (Please don't ask me why I still own the later.  There is no good excuse!).

Right now I am leaning towards the zig zag wall.  The wall is currently Kilim Beige by Sherwin Williams.

Sherwin Williams - Kilim Beige #6106

I know it might look a little blah on here, but it is a really soft neutral and at this point I would only have to add in white zig zag stripes.  Seems easy enough!  I will let you know how it all goes down.

Here's to the first of many painting projects!!


Subject: Birthday Dinner

Smitten Kitchen

Hello dear!
So, I have been meaning to tell you about this a-mazing dinner I made for Jon's birthday earlier this month. I really wanted to take him to try this new restaurant that I thought he would like, but he really wanted me to make him something special and just have a low-key evening at home. Now, that is really sweet of him, but I was really hoping to go out because a) I would not have to clean up afterwards and b) I really wanted to try this restaurant too! Anyway, we ate at home and I made, according to the Birthday Boy, the best meal he's ever eaten. High praise, I know.
At first I was completely uninspired and annoyed that I had to cook so I had no idea what I was going to do. But then I got into the spirit of the challenge and decided that I would do all new recipes that we had never eaten before and I would cook an interesting meat. Now really, any meat is interesting since really all we have is chicken and shrimp and the occasional beef, but I wanted to do something decadent, like shortribs or lamb. (Side note: I love using the word 'decadent' to describe savory items.)

I found a really easy recipe for lamb chops (which I had never made before) with a pistachio tapenade on Smitten Kitchen [Are you familiar with this site? I am ob-sessed.] that made my mouth water the minute I saw the picture and read the ingredients, so I knew that would be the main course. Then in one of my many Barefoot Contessa cookbooks I found a recipe for Rosemary Polenta (recipe available here) that looked scrumptious and for the vegetable I did Ina's Salad with Warm Goat Cheese and cooked up some pancetta to add to the salad because everything is better with bacon.

Oh my gosh - it was incredible. I used rosemary in the tapenade instead of the other herbs, which really united the lamb and the polenta, and the dressing on the salad was perfect with the warm goat cheese. For dessert I made Ina's Beatty's Chocolate Cake, which has always gone over well in our house. To wash it all done I picked up a lovely Pino Noir at the wine shop and it was so light and smooth that it complimented the richness of the lamb perfectly.

It was an all-day affair baking and prepping everything for dinner, but it was so worth it when the food turned out so well and - mostly importantly - the Birthday Boy enjoyed it. The only problem: I've set the bar kind of high for myself for next year!

Happy cooking!