Friday, July 29, 2011

Subject: The Land of Nod + A Blog

Good Morning All - 

Since Kara is away on her Eastern Seaboard Extravaganza, it seems that these emails should be directed more to you and less to her.  (Only because I don't think she will still want to be friends with me if she returns and has a boatload of emails/blogs to follow up on.)

So, for the next few days, I figure I will try and concentrate on cool things I've come across in magazines and online and less about inquiring advice from my dear friend in Tallahassee. 

Now that I'm done blabbing, I wanted to share this cool blog I came across.  First the image that caught my eye:

Honest to Nod
See that birdcage?  Interested in making it yourself??  The directions can be found on the The Land of Nod's blog Honest to Nod.  Besides this one project, they have a ton of others.  Some are crafty, some to do with kids and some you can whip up in the kitchen and eat.

I think the birdcage in particular could be cool in a nursery or playroom.  I can't wait to see what other fun projects I will find on the blog.

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Subject: Kids' Fashion

Melissa -

So when it comes to clothing Suz, I am probably more practical than necessary. I just have a hard time spending as much money on her clothes as I do on mine, especially since she needs new clothes every six months or so (I think that will start to slow down, though, now that she's - gasp! - no longer technically a baby). So I get lots of things on clearance at Target and I've even scored some awesome finds at consignment shops and even a few things at garage sales.

Of course, like I do for myself, occasionally I will splurge. Last week was one of those occasions. I had to go to the Gap to return a gift and ended up with a little bit of store credit. Now, this is a little bit of a sidebar, but what has happened with the Gap? Ninety percent of all my clothing used to come from there, but now...? I walk in and feel like I'm in an asylum or old movie (but not in a good way) - there is no color! It's all grays and taupes and creams, which I realize have their place - but that's all they have! And if it is in color, I feel like it's the color of a tennis ball. Is this showing my age? I feel like the Gap was always fashionable, but not necessarily on the cutting-edge of fashion, but now they are...and I definitely am not. Ugh. Anyway. It's sad - I feel like I lost an old friend. Or maybe I just need to graduate to Banana Republic?

Okay - sidebar over.

So after realizing there was nothing for me* in the whole store, I went over to the Suz's side. (This is extremely dangerous - especially for mothers with daughters - because their kids' clothes have remained awesome!) I found this little gem on sale, then on sale again and after using my store credit, I paid about $5. So it wasn't even a legitimate splurge! Score!

I cannot wait until winter when I will pair this with skinny jeans or black leggings and some fun-colored ballet flats. Or maybe some kind of tights? It feels kind of Madeleine to me (the French girl, not the cookie), or maybe toddler version of a Mad Men style. One thing about Suz getting older: she is walking, which I feel like means you can actually see the clothes she is wearing, whereas before she was crawling or laying in a ball so you couldn't really make things out all that well.

*Now I understand why those terribly-dressed women on What Not to Wear say they spend all their money dressing their kids and don't worry so much (or at all) about what they themselves are wearing. I never understood this before - but now I totally get it. Hopefully I won't devolve that far, but I can appreciate how it happens now!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Subject: Beach Trip!

Melissa -

Today we leave for a 10-day excursion up the Eastern Seaboard. We are going to visit some of Hubby's family up in Maryland, go to his cousin's wedding and then head on over to an aunt's house on Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. As an ode to my week at the beach - and summer in general - here is a sampling of coastal decorating, all courtesy of Southern Living:

I like it when beach houses don't scream "This is a beach house!!!" with seashells glued onto the frames of mirrors, port holes on the wall (who wants their house to look like a seafood restaurant?) and the color palette nothing but boring pastels. It feel so 1990s, you know?

Instead I love punches of red and blue, washed out fabrics like seersucker and chambray, and white slip-covered furniture. Faded wood is also a nice touch. I think my "beach-y" inspiration tends more toward "coastal" instead, which is a subtle difference, but oh-so-important.

And this post wouldn't be complete without a nod toward Sarah Richardson's personal cottage that she renovated and decorated to perfectly illustrate what I am trying to describe:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Re: Bathroom Inspiration

Melissa -

It looks like you had so much fun with your friends! And your clam bake looked delicious! I love the idea of a big bunch of friends gathered around a table loaded with food (this should be on 'garden proud' too!!). You can just sit for awhile and eat and talk and drink. It sounds divine...and yes, last week I was MIA :) It was my birthday week! I did not get anything off my wish list, but still - it was great. And next year is a BIG one (it rhymes with 'flirty'), so we'll have to plan something amazing.

So, I love talking about bathrooms, so I was so glad when you asked for additional bathroom inspiration (so then I don't have to do the embarssing thing and give you unsolicited suggestions!). I looked through my inspiration notebook and noticed something - not many bathrooms are featured in my fav magazines. Mostly it's living rooms, kitches and bedrooms. Do none of these people have to pee?? Anyway, have no fear - I turned to my Decorating Idol to send some inspiration your way.

First and foremost - I loved everything you sent me. I love all the white cabinets and trim work - it just looks so crisp, which I think is perfect for a bathroom. I think lots of wainscoting is ideal in a bathroom as well. Keeping all the fixed elements (tile, cabinets, etc.) neutral will allow you more flexibility with changing out the looks when you get bored just by switching up paint color, rugs (loved your suggestions!) and towels - but you already knew all that!

So, without further ado, here are some pictures from my #1 lady - Sarah Richardson of Sarah's House:

Okay, so in these two pictures I love how she used non-bathroom furniture and converted them into vanities. The wood might be a little too rustic for the look you are going for, but you get what I am saying. I think they even make vanities now that look like pieces of furniture, just to save you the trouble of retro-fitting some antique to accomodate pipes and a sink.

I also love when she incorporates fabric into bathrooms by way of curtain panels:

It's so unexpected and looks so fun and vibrant, I think. And finally:

In this picture and the one above you can see how amazing she is with creating showers. She uses expensive/interesting tile on just one wall to save on money AND to make a bigger impact, which I think is genius. I love how she used tiles of different tones to make the stripes, which is such an interesting idea. She is a pro at mixing expensive and cheap(er) materials to create a custom look that is actually affordable.

For lighting I think you should stay away from the traditional bathroom lighting and instead go with a statement piece in the middle of the room - like a gorgeous chandelier to reflect all the white. Or this could even be an interesting place to use the Edison Chandelier, which I know you are a fan of:

And then over the vanity, maybe do a pendant over each mirror (I love your idea of doing two mirrors). Pottery Barn has some great inspiration, but this is my favorite:

I feel like this summer I too have been taking a break from home projects. Maybe it's our version of 'summer vacation'? What will talk about in the mean time? All our inspiration of course - duh!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Subject: A Clam Bake...Minus the Sand

Happy Friday!!  As you read this, I'm actually probably on my way to the airport, headed to Florida for a baby shower for one of my long-time friends.  When I mentioned my friends visiting over the 4th of July, I remembered I never wrote you about our Sunday night feast.

After slaving away in the kitchen....

...we ended up with quite the feast!

Here's an up close picture...
We had corn, sweet potatoes, Giada's Linguini with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (modified by yours truly), a lobster stuffing, salad and the star of the show... Ina's Kitchen Clambake.  It was delish and easy to do.  Here's the recipe thanks to Food Network!

  • Total Time: 1 hr 0 min
  • Prep:  30 min
  • Cook:  30 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
  • Level:  Intermediate
  • Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 pounds kielbasa
    • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
    • 2 cups chopped leeks, well cleaned (2 leeks, white parts only)
    • 1/4 cup good olive oil
    • 1 1/2 pounds small potatoes (red or white)
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
    • 2 dozen steamer clams, scrubbed
    • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
    • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, in the shell
    • 3 (1 1/2 pound) lobsters
    • 2 cups good dry white wine


    Slice the kielbasa diagonally into 1-inch thick slices. Set aside. Saute the onions and leeks in the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 16 to 20 quart stockpot over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
    Layer the ingredients on top of the onions in the stockpot in this order: first the potatoes, salt, and pepper; then the kielbasa, little neck clams, steamer clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobsters. Pour in the white wine. Cover the pot tightly and cook over medium-high heat until steam just begins to escape from the lid, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes. The clambake should be done. Test to be sure the potatoes are tender, the lobsters are cooked, and the clams and mussels are open. Remove the lobsters to a wooden board, cut them up, and crack the claws. With large slotted spoons, remove the seafood, potatoes, and sausages to a large bowl and top with the lobsters. Season the broth in the pot to taste, and ladle over the seafood, being very careful to avoid any sand in the bottom.

    We eliminated the kielbasa and also the lobster, since we had the lobster stuffing.  It was really amazing though and fun to eat and then throw the shells on the newspaper.  I highly recommend you give this one a try!  Enjoy your weekend!


    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Subject: Bathroom Inspiration

    Hey K - 

    I take it this is the week you are MIA?!?  :)  

    Since my best buds visited on the 4th of July...

    ...Hubs and I have not done ANY house work.  We've been relaxing and enjoying our home, and both of us have not picked up a paintbrush, caulk, hammer or nail.  I plan on staying on a hiatus for the next few weeks as least until after Labor Day.  However, one of the next big projects we are planning is a bathroom makeover.  Here's my inspiration thus far...

    I especially want to do two large mirrors, instead of the one big one we have now.  I think something like this could be beautiful. 

    Pottery Barn Vintage Recessed Medicine Cabinet
     Or maybe even something like this...

    Restoration Hardware Pharmacy Wall Mount Medicine Cabinet
    I'm also thinking instead of the traditional bathmats, a big rug could be fun and add the perfect punch of color.

    Pottery Barn - Gianna Kilim Recycled Yarn Rug

    Flutter Pattern Rug

    Anthropologie Tan-Tan Rug
    And while we are on the subject of rugs, if I wasn't going for a pop of color, I would consider designing an entire room or bathroom around this rug which I LOVE!!!  I actually think I may have a crush on it.  I even recommended it to my little brother for his hip LA pad, and while at first he turned his nose up to it, he ended up purchasing it in the long run.
    West Elm - Rajasthan-Stripe Printed Dhurrie
    Well, that's it for now.  If you come across any fun bathroom inspiration, I'd love to see it.  We are still in the process of saving up for this big remodel.  Based on my calculations, we will be ready to break ground very late this year or early 2012!

    Monday, July 18, 2011


    Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday Dear Kara, Happy Birthday to You!  (Trust me, it's better I write this out, then call and sing!)

    Today, in honor of your birthday, let's talk about cake.

    Now, we've talked about Ina's Beatty's Chocolate Cake on more than one occasion.  Here I  tried it out pretty much per the recipe.

    This weekend, I tried it again and think I may have found the perfect finishing touch for what has to be the most delicious cake I've ever had...

    Raspberry Preserves - YES PLEASE!!  So, I took the preserves, about 1/4 of the jar, and reduced them in a sauce pan so it wouldn't be jelly-ish.  Then I spread them on the bottom layer, then added the top layer and spread some on there as well.  I finished it off with a few fresh raspberries and served it with a dollop of Cool Whip and some more fresh raspberries.  It was SO good.  This way you can concentrate on the real star of the dessert - the cake - and not be overwhelmed with some crazy frosting.  I think this could be equally delicious with some strawberry preserves or jam and fresh strawberries.

    Until the Beatty's Chocolate cake with a "Peach" twist...

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Subject: Birthday Wish List


    No worries on being MIA...I'm just grateful that we're never MIA in the same week :) Which I think makes us a great pair - we don't even have to coordinate when one of us goes just kind of happens and the other person blogs away until the other one of us reappears again!

    So, my birthday is Monday so I've decided to post some of my favorite lovelies these days. I honestly haven't thought much about what I want for my birthday or what I even want to do for my birthday, but here are a few things that I have been admiring for awhile.

    This bag would be perfect for carrying all the odds and ends moms seem to end up with! I'm kind of over the traditional diaper bag and have decided I want a bag that I like (err, love) and will stand the test of wear & tear, trendiness, etc., and will just last me into eternity. Plus, on a practical level, it just seems really roomy and has a really big opening for shoving towels, stuffed animals, diapers and sippy cups into.

    I have loved this wallet for a long time. It holds a ton of stuff and is just a really simple design. This is one of the fancier ones color-wise, but I do think it's beautiful. Maybe there' s a trend here, but I love things that are timeless and that I will love as much today as I will years from now, that aren't overly-trendy but are just really classic in their design. Plus I am craving things that are super-functional and this totally fits the bill.

    And I am always in the market for some personalized stationary, especially when it is designed by Whitney English. This is a really simple design, but something about it is really appealing and beautiful to me.

    I have been told before that I am hard to buy for, which makes no sense to me! Does anyone want to be told they are hard to buy for? I am always grateful for anything someone buys me and, in my mind, being 'hard to buy for' implies that someone is overly picky or critical. Granted, I do have strong opinions about what I do and do not like, but I don't think that makes me picky...just discriminating in my tastes, right? Basically I always love something that is a thoughtful gift, but I love receiving books as gifts, especially coffee table books that have beautiful pictures in them. I also love receiving hostess-y type things: a large salad bowl, an adorable cream & sugar set, a big pitcher. I really love anything that is functional and bonus points are added if there is some kind of history to it - like if you found it at some cool flea market or in your great aunt's attic.

    All that isn't too much to ask for, right???

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Subject: Oh-My-I-Haven't-Written-In-Awhile Bad Friend Email/Post

    Have you missed me??  I think after the girls left I went to sleep for about a week and just finally woke up.  Things to discuss in no particular order:

    1.  Your Hand + Stitches:  OUCH!  So sorry Kara!!  Now I think I will ban myself from using razors...ever!!

    2.  Your Living Room Rug:  AWESOME!  And yes, I definitely see the ticking stripe curtains in the living room now.  :)

    3.  Your "TV" stand:  Okay, I've been rattling my brain trying to remember where I saw someone turn a drawer into a hinged drawer.  It was definitely on the Nate Berkus Show.  He transformed this room for three kids in NY who share a bedroom.  (Total bummer!)  I found the episode here, but it doesn't show the solution.  I was however slightly distracted when I went on the site because I on a whim sent a picture in of my backyard....

    ...and low and behold it's on the website - Under Garden Proud - first page, too!!

    Sorry for the distraction...back to you.  I found a tutorial on Home Depot about converting a desk drawer into a hinged drawer here.  I definitely think this is the way to go to make the piece clean and not have to worry about storing the DVR/DVD and whatever else you might have.  As you know, I don't like a lot out, which is why I have the tv stand I have...

    A Very Not Good Picture of My TV Stand
    4.  Artwork:  LOVE the frames!!  Bamboo...yes please!!  But also LOVING the art.  Was it nice in person.  We could make a deal here.  The art reminds me of botanical prints that Janell from Isabella + Max has in her house.  Back to the frames, you might want to try searching for frames on Etsy.  They have some good Bamboo choices.  

    Vintage Bamboo Frame
    Also, on the bamboo wavelength, (kind of, but not really,) my bestie found these frames on Etsy.  
    Hollywood Regency Frames

    Alright, that's all for now.  Have a wonderful day!!

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Subject: Country Living

    Melissa -

    Are you familiar with this magazine?

    I thought I knew about it, but on Sunday I was waiting to get my stitches removed and found it in the waiting room and quickly became ob-sessed with everything in it. Confession time: sometimes if I find a magazine I cannot live without (like a home design one) in a waiting room, I will take it home with me.

    But just look at this inspiration...I had no choice!

    The issue was all about decorating with white and how it can be really warm and inviting, not just sterile and cold. This resonated with me because of my goal to be more deliberate with color in my house - not because I am going to an all-white theme.

    I might have to consider subscribing to this magazine. Maybe this particular issue was just a fluke, but I was surprised at how refined all the designs were. I guess in my mind "country living" would equal big ceramic roosters in the kitchen and red buffalo check curtains with sunflower appliques, right? I was waaaay off!

    In other news, the beach was amazing. It was one of those situations where we accepted an invitation for a free place to stay at the beach but had no idea what our accommodations would be, and then we had to pinch ourselves once we got there: not only was the condo in a beautiful complex that was directly on the beach, we had our own enormous room and private bathroom and the condo itself was bigger than our house! It has awesome.

    Anyway, I'm back and refreshed and can't wait to hear about what is going on in your world!

    P.S. What magazines do you subscribe to? I currently get Vanity Fair and Better Homes & Gardens and I'm about to start getting Southern Living. I used to get Martha Stewart Living but it stopped being good to me...the design was too stuffy and the recipes overly-complicated and not that good. I thought I was over Real Simple, but then my MIL gave me a few issues recently and I fell back in love with it again, so maybe I'll add it back into my rotation.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Subject: Living Room Artwork


    So the other day I mentioned artwork for my living room and, while I'm not sure what I will do, I wanted to show you these frames I saw at a shop in town:

    And a close-up:

    They're bamboo-looking, right? I kind of like the subtle texture and interest. They would be nice painted a shiny black, I think. Or maybe the natural wood. Who knows. I'm a long way from hanging anything on the wall, but just wanted to share. I saw these around the same time I was painting my mother-in-law's office chair, so I think I was really into the bamboo at the time.


    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Subject: Living Room Update

    Melissa -

    Hi friend! I hope you had a fabulous weekend with all your girlfriends and had a great 4th as well. As you read this, I am at the beach...not submerging my hand in any water! Just as I promised, I would love your input on my living room.

    To bring you up to speed, I ordered a rug from Overstock and not only was it a total steal (the rub + shipping was all less than $200), I am totally in love with how it looks:

    The drawback: Ina the Cat is also in love with the way it looks...and feels in her claws. So if anyone wants a cat...

    I kid, I kid. But seriously. I am going to skin that cat if she ruins this rug. It is hooked, which I think she really enjoys for wrapping her claws around. I know that sometimes ordering from Overstock can be hit-or-miss with the quality and accuracy of the description of the item, but I was really pleased with my purchase. The best part is that I didn't need to get a rug pad because it was soft underneath (I guess because it's a hooked rug?). I really love how the background is black because I feel like it ties in with the black & white tile in the kitchen, but I didn't really think through how it would show every little piece of lint or cat fur. Oh well. The other rug probably hid things too well and hence I did not vacuum enough :)

    (Side note: I loved the rug suggestion you sent me in your story board, but it was in more jewel tones and I needed something more primary color-ish. I would love to see that rug used in someone's house though...)

    So now that the rug is in place, I feel even more confident with moving forward with blue ticking stripe drapes, so just imagine they are in the room, even though I still need to buy the fabric, sew them and install curtain rods...oh, and buy curtain rods too. The blue in the rug is really nice and I think the ticking stripe will be perfect, plus the rug also gives a nod to the blue leather chair that I cannot stand but Mr. Lass insists we will keep forever.

    Prior to acquiring the new TV stand, we had a big armoire thing and then a ladder bookshelf sat next to it and it worked okay. But now that the new TV stand is smaller and shorter, I think the bookshelf looks silly on the wall, so I am ready to get something different. Here is the space as it certainly is, with the new TV stand (staying) and the ladder bookshelf (going):

    At the moment I love the idea of putting a bench there because it will round out the seating in the room and give the appearance that the room is not centered around the television (although we all know it's true!). Plus it would provide me an opportunity to inject some color in that area - I'm considering painting the bench green.

    After such a great experience with Overstock with my rug, I decided to start my bench search there too and found this one that I really like:

    The dimensions of it are right for the space and I really love the back. I could put a few pillows on it and some artwork above (more on that later this week). But the only dilemma I'm facing at this point: what to do with the cable box/DVD player? Right now the cable box is on the bookshelf and the DVD player is on the ground - not really a sustainable option. Right now I'm considering using an L-bracket and somehow mounting a little shelf under the bench to hold those two things, but we'll see. I don't know how hard that would be.

    Let me know your thoughts/suggestions. The most ideal option would be if we could alter the TV stand in some way and make one of the drawers have a hinged opening and then drill a hole in the back for the cords, but while that seems like a good idea, it also seems like one of those projects could go horribly, horribly wrong and then ruin the whole piece.


    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Subject: Friday Catch Up

    Melissa -

    Hi and happy pre-birthday, America! I'm so sorry I have been MIA for most of this week, following my post on Monday about my sewing project. Mr. Lass was home for most of the week sick - and I never get anything done when he is home - and then yesterday, one of my favorite things turned tragic: I was peeling a label from a jar (I L-O-V-E keeping jars to use for storage or as a vase or votive holder), the razor thing I was using slipped and, well, three stitches later here is my hand:

    It looks a lot worse than it actually is. The nurse admitted she is not good at dressing wounds and somehow managed to make it look like I had a fractured wrist. Of course, it did score me lots of pity points with Mr. Lass, so that has been good. Plus while I was at the doctor's office I got to read the latest issue of Vanity Fair, and I never get to read during the day, so I just pretended like I was at a spa instead of a walk-in clinic :)

    The only downside: we are going to the beach all next week and my hand is not supposed to be submerged. Not that I enjoy the ocean that much (all that salt in your eyes!), but swimming in the pool with Suz is always fun. Of course, the nurse assured me I could still swim but said that my injured hand would be "the hand you hold your drink with." Or sippy cup.

    Okay, now that the excuses are over: I love your yellow door! I've never painted any doors in my house, but I love the idea of a long hallway of bedrooms with the walls being a neutral color and the doors painted a fun color - maybe pale gray walls and apple green doors. And then when you get tired of one color, you can just paint the doors. Perk: painting doors is waaaay easier than painting walls. And yes, I love Mary's office but couldn't find pictures of her red doors either.

    I am enjoying Million Dollar Decorators, but am holding my breath waiting for them to criticize something I love or actually own. (Of course, I don't think they are shopping at any of the places I shop, so I can't see them ever coming into contact with something I own!) On this new-to-me blog, the bloggess created a drinking game around the show. I totally agree with her summation of Nathan and Mary - at first they were annoying and now they're the best part about the show.

    Okay, my finger is starting to throb so I am going to cut this short. Thank you so much for sending me the picture of the patriotic cake! People are so genius sometimes. Next week I am going to tap your problem-solving skills to find a solution for where to go next in my living room.

    Hugs & fireworks,