Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Weekend!!

How's this little rear-end to get your weekend started off right??  Puppy butt!  Ahh, love.

This weekend I'm looking forward to doing a whole lot of NOTHING.  I've got a hair appointment, and will return to my "natural" blonde hair color I was born to have.  It's also supposed to warm up here, for our "Indian Summer" - sunny and 80 degrees is what I am talking about!!

Happy Weekend!

It's 5:00 Somewhere... In a Classy way (of course)

I've found myself fantasizing about a vintage bar cart recently, and it has moved from the "want to have" list to the "need to have" list.  Kris just loves that :-)

Not only are they so pretty with their glass tops and metal side details, but they are also "visually light".  They don't visually take up a lot of space, since the glass and metal frame are open.

Ballard Designs

I have even found the perfect spot for one (under a large mirror, next to our TV).

Bear with me, but this lovely picture of ooey gooey breakfast treats is the the only picture I could find that demonstrates where this bar cart would go... mmm, now I want chocolate crescent rolls!

Unfortunately, I've also found that these bad boys run up a pretty decent price tag...

I did a quick search on Google, along with Craigslist and Ebay - on the low end of the spectrum, I found the Jill Bar Cart at Ballard Designs for $349, but some of the actual vintage pieces on Craislist ran well into the thousands - yes THOUSANDS.  Holy macaroni!  I think I'll go for a vintage knockoff, thankyouverymuch.

I absolutely love the bar carts with curved lines.  This one here with the handles and shiny chrome is amazing against the dark wallpaper, and who can resist the imperial trellis print?!  I know I cant!


This brass cart is pretty much a spitting image of the chrome one above... must be why I'm really into it too.  The cut crystal decanters are so pretty on top.  So pretty!

And another oval cart - this one in a brushed bronze is a little more industrial which is cool, but I'm not loving the clear acrylic wheels...
Any good suggestions on finding a vintage (looking) bar cart for a steal?!

Fleur de Sel Caramel's

I've recently become totally and utterly hooked on salted caramel.  The Fleur de Sel caramel candies from Trader Joes... the salted caramel ice cream from BiRite (if you ever come to San Francisco, a stop at BiRite in the Mission is MUST - life changing I tell you).  This girl can't get enough!

Then, I came upon a recipe for homemade Fleur de Sel Caramels - from the Barefoot Contessa no less (god I love her) - and I am DYING to try these on my own...

Fleur de Sel Caramels (Makes 16 Caramels)

Vegetable oil
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream         
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fine fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then brush the paper lightly with oil, allowing the paper to drape over 2 sides.

In a deep saucepan (6 inches wide x 4½ inches deep), combine ¼ cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don’t stir – just swirl the pan to mix. Watch carefully, as it will burn quickly at the end!

In the meantime, in a small pan, bring the cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is a warm golden color, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful - it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees (firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Very carefully (it’s hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

When the caramels are cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the sheet in half. Starting with a long side, roll one piece of the caramel up tightly into an 8-inch-long log. Repeat with the second piece. Sprinkle both logs with fleur de sel, trim the ends, and cut each log in 8 pieces. Cut glassine or parchment papers into 4 x 5-inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday Afternoon Ring Porn

Hello lovvveeeeerrrrrrrrrr... 

I saw this ring today on Pinterest, and just couldn't resist... I had to share it in its two carat cushion cut floating micro pave halo glory!  Consider it a Thursday afternoon gift, from me to you!  Well... a gift from Blue Nile, to Pinterest, to me, to you!


Dorothy Draper on the Brain

I had posted about my love of Dorothy Draper furniture a few weeks ago, and I've still got it on the brain.  Not to over-obsess, but these bad boy's made it into the Vogue offices in the Sex and the City movie... so you know it's legit.

Anyway, I'd mentioned that we need a taller piece for our TV in the bedroom - right now the TV is on a lower TV stand, which is a problem because you can't see the TV when you are laying back in bed.  We literally have to be sitting straight up in bed to see the screen, which really defeats the whole purpose of watching TV in bed - right?!

Anyway, I am in the process of working out the exact specs I want the dresser to have in our bedroom, but I absolutely love the longer look of the cabinets here.

I saw a similar Ikea hack to the one I posted earlier this month.   Naomi, of Design Manifest, actually turned two Rast nightstands into a TV console.  You can see in this picture, that she added an extra shelf on top to house the cable box, and create a completely flat surface for the TV above.  Awesome right??  My hesitation is that I'm crafty enough to build an additional shelving unit, and I worry that I'd end up after this project with an unstable surface that we'd have to balance the TV on...


See in this second picture how the sides are not completely flush with the top?? I do like the idea of having a space for the cable box, but it's starting to sound like too much work for me.  The other work-around to making both pieces flush would be to sand everything down... Am I way overthinking this??

Maybe I should keep looking on Craigslist....

The Little Hallway that Could

Ok - no judging allowed, but just wanted to share some updates on our hallway.  I swear I've been doing work on it, and not just having fun - this means coming home at 10pm, and working until bedtime.  It's getting old my friends... real old.

That said, I've made some serious progress!  You all remember these sad "before" pictures right...

Brown on brown on brown... GROSS.  I mean, it was just depressing!

There is still work to be done, but here is some preliminary "afters":

Actually, let's call this a "during" since we are still working on it...

The updates??  Most obviously removing all that was hideous and brown - repainting the console, and bringing in my new rug.  Love looveeee that rug.

It's a little hard to see clearly in some of these (sorry, iPhone pics in early morning light before work = grainy snapshots), but after painting the console, I roughed up the edges with some trusty sandpaper.  Focusing on the areas that would get the most natural wear, it made some of the details pop back out, and gave it a nice antique feeling.  You'll also notice that I decided to paint the top (instead of keeping the super shiny faux inlay), but before painting, I took a hammer to it, and really banged it up (aka took some aggression out on it).  Aside from being extremely fun and therapeutic, I think I succeeded in making it look genuinely old antique.  Kris said so himself, so it must be true :-)

I'm still going back and forth on spray painting the hardware a brushed bronze... the silver looks much better than I thought it would, so I think I'm going to hold off making any decisions on that for a few weeks - see if I change my mind.  Besides, my can of Rustoleum isn't going anywhere...

In addition to my freshly painted console (the least labor intensive part of this whole deal), the door, the built in linen closet, and the crown molding got a little makeover with some "Decorators White" from Benjamin Moore.  Trust me when I say, adding white paint to the dingy hallway, and defining the trim have made the largest impact of anything I could possibly do in here.  It creates some much needed architectural interest, and a point of reference for the ceiling - it feels taller!

The linen closet still has zero character, so painting it fresh white is probably the best I can do with it.  Some battles I'm willing to let go of... we are renters after all.

Let's do a side by side comparison for fun... shall we?

The light in this "before" photo isn't great, but you can see what I'm getting at - you couldn't even see the trim before! It totally blended in with the walls.  Woof.  Now the clean white is bright, and it just makes me happy...

The window is waiting on a new fancy treatment... another DIY on it's way with my new pretty fabric  (hopefully not an epic failure)!

Also, you can see that I'm now trying to decide where to hang things on the wall (thus, the lonely square of painters tape).  Last night when I was measuring out the tape, I felt that the 20"x16" filled out the space, and anything more would be too much, but now, looking at this from a distance in this photo, I'm wondering if it would benefit from a few more smaller frames on the side.

Also, I think this sunburst mirror is too small for the wall, and we need something larger to fill the space - especially next to the built in that goes up to the ceiling.  There is just a lot of wall, with a cluster of "stuff" down near the table, and in the small space, I want to draw the eye up as much as possible.
*Side note: this photo is really washed out from the direct light... 
the walls and linen closet are distinctly different colors

Right??  Lots of wall... that mirror will find a home elsewhere - not to worry :-)  Also... just realized that the rug needs to come closer to the entryway... easy changes...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm a "Photographer" now that I know the word "Aperture"

You may have noticed that the quality of the photos I've been posting have been pretty lack luster... it's because I've been using my iPhone for everything since our vacation (not to hate on the iPhone camera... it's actually not bad).  On our trip to Cabo, Kris dropped our DSLR camera at the airport, and while the actual camera is fine (thank god) we found the lens in a million little pieces when we took the lens cap off.  Sad!!

Since then, I've been on the hunt for a new one, but as many people with these kinds of cameras know, the lens is the most expensive part!  A good lens will run well into the thousands of dollars, but for what I'm looking for, that won't be necessary.

Basically, I want a lens that takes great shots up close.  So I can document my projects, our life, and take wonderful photos of family and friends.  I was so sad not to be able to bring the camera to my mom's birthday!

I'm determined to find a good replacement that is a moderate upgrade from our original lens, so I've been reading a lot of reviews online.  If anyone else has ever tried to research technical gadgets online (phones, TVs, cameras, lenses) you know how confusing it can be.  There are a lot of resources - some better than others - but even the best end up throwing around super technical terms that are intimidating and unhelpful for us non-savvy photo takers, but one of my favorite bloggers Emily Clark, featured a guest post on lenses recently, and it was SO helpful!

For me, being able to read simple advice from a trusted source (a professional photographer, on a blog I read daily) means more than any CNET editor's review, so obviously I paid attention!

The recommendation was to go with the Cannon EF 50mm f1.8 ii lens.  Gibberish people!  I have no clue what this lens is!! Luckily, Google has all the answers a girl could ever want, so from there I was able to solidify my decision.  I checked out the Google Images for this lens, and of course came across a ton of pictures that people had taken with it!  Boom.

Great pictures right?!  I realize now how creepy it is to have posted pictures of two random guys - one taking a smoke outside, and the other picking his nose (what are people using this lens for?!), but I think these portraits capture the "aperture" (wow, look at me using my new-found photographer lingo)... for those not in the know, aperture just means how blurry the background becomes when focusing in on a subject... apparently, this lens has a "low aperture" (aka extra fuzzy background).

What else do I love about this lens?? It's cheap inexpensive - well... inexpensive as far as lenses go.  It's $104 on Amazon right now, so in comparison to several thousand (or even several hundred) it feels like an absolute steal!

Now that I've found the portraiture lens I want, it's time to start researching wider angle lenses - any recommendations??

Epiphany: Fabric as Art!

So yesterday, while browsing fabrics, I kept seeing so many that I loved.  Unfortunately for me, so many of them would have been visual overload in our small apartment, but I kept coming back to this one again and again (isn't he cute??)

Finally it came to me - while this bird was never meant to be on the curtains I was making, he was still meant to be in my house.  As what, you ask?  As a pretty piece of art, singing on the wall!

I did a little investigation, and discovered that others also had this brilliant idea already, turning textiles into art.  I am apparently late to this party...  I love this example from Elle Decor, where this Ikat print breathed life into what could have been a rather ho hum office.

Here, another office, posted on Apartment Therapy, where they used the same fabric in four different colors, with a matte behind the desk.  I love that these give the feel of screened windows, and tone down the very green walls.

This room has different patterns and different colors simply matted in black frames - easy, inexpensive, and impactful.  I love it.

Finally, framed fabric featured in a hallway.  Pretty pretty - I don't think I'll be framing anything this large in our small space, but I'm encouraged seeing how awesome it can look in other spaces.

I've revamped my original design board, to include a few changes - including my mocked up birdie.

While the original inspiration board (featured here) was fine, it lacked energy and interest (I'm the first to admit it).  The white roman shades were blah, and the room was boring.  It was was all blue, white, and brown - so one dimensional.  I think the citron printed fabric (the Secret Gate pattern is the winner for me) will make a lively addition as a roman shade in this space, and my dear little mockingbird (or is it a nightingale?) will tie everything together in a big bird-like bow.

I am starting to think that my mockingbird/nightingale might need a partner in crime up there on the wall, so I've started looking at other fabrics that he might pair well.  With the trellis rug and the citron patterned shades, I think we've got enough graphic patterns going on, so I'm thinking something more "picture-like."  Here are the options I'm debating...

OPTION I: Bird with the Working girls
That description came out all wrong...   These girls are working... not as hookers!  Get your minds out of the gutter!  I'm even thinking that with a grey print, a light wash of color from some watercolor paints might be neat.  Am I being optimistic with my artistic capabilities?? Perhaps... I may just go ahead and try it...
OPTION II: Bird with the Turbaned Turks
I swear I can't make this stuff up!  This fabric is actually called Turkish Toile!  I love it, but is this too much yellow?  Is the yellow here too different from the citron color in the shades?  I do like that the guys in ths print are sitting around drinking and probably gossiping about their mistresses.  I'm going to keep this one in the running...

OPTION III: Bird with the Garden Toile
I think this print is really pretty, but my biggest concern here is the border.  I love the blue border because it ties in really well with my sweet bird, but what if the toile print is so big that the border is cut off by the frame!  There is nothing that gets my goat more than something non-symmetrical, so if it can't be perfectly centered, I don't want it at all.  I think this one, as sweet as it is, has to go.  It's not worth the $20 per yard to test it out.

OPTION IV: Bird with the Turbaned Turks (part II)
I just keep coming back to these Turkish dudes, right??  This one is different though I swear!  Difference #1: This print is black and white - no yellow anywhere to be found.  Difference #2: These Turks are at the same little hut, but in a different climate.  Take a close look - they've got palm trees here, so they must be somewhere tropical.  In the other print, it's pine trees encircling them... so they are likely in the mountains somewhere.  Gosh, the more I think about it, the more I like these Turks.  I'm feeling like we are already becoming closer friends than I am with the mockingbird.

Ok, enough crazy talk... must make some decisions!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Nautical Navy Affair

Has anyone else heard of Indian Summer??  I grew up thinking it was a real season the way we honored it.  California is is notorious for really perfect weather in September and October - when it's cooling off in other states, the weather here gets warmer.  Technically, it's already fall, but it feels like summer, so we've named this season "Indian Summer."  Totally PC, right?? Who cares... I say, break out the moccasins!

Anyway... my mom's birthday falls right within "Indian Summer", which means the days are sunny and the night's stay relatively warm - the perfect recipe for an outdoor birthday dinner.  The theme??  Nautical Navy.  Yes, I just made that up, but we are going with it.

The Fish Market is this awesome seafood restaurant in my hometown, and while the inside feels very "fish market-y" with a fish counter, and a tank of live crabs, there is an adorable outside patio that sits right on a lagoon.  It really is a gorgeous setting, and the perfect spot for my Mama's birthday dinner.

Once the reservations were made and the invitations inked, I called the restaurant for the details on the patio.  Are there white linens? What color are the napkins?  About how long do you anticipate the table being for a party of 16?

Once I found out that there were no linens unless requested, napkins were red, and a table for a party that large would be in the ballpark of 16 feet, I went to work putting together inspirations for a lovely birthday tablescape.  Since the napkins were red, color choices for my tablescape were more limited. With the restaurant on the water, a nautical theme was an easy choice.

Queue Pinterest: the Mecca for inspiration (well my Mecca at least).

I gathered up a bunch of online inspiration, and based a lot of my decisions on these pictures:

The priorities were to find a graphic runner in navy, and pair it with white floral arrangements.  I had dabbled with the idea of red florals, but when I ran the idea past my dad, his opinion that it would be too much red with the napkins, and we "didn't want the table to look like communist China".  Oh dad... you have a delicate way of putting things...

I found  this great runner from Etsy - it measured 108" (9 feet) which is apparently the longest length for runners without a custom order.  While it wouldn't cover the entire table, it was good enough for me, so we went with it.

I also ordered a bunch of small glass votives (candlelight changes EVERYTHING), and several large mason jars for the flower arrangements.

The result??

All in all, I'm really happy with how everything turned out.  

The chevron brought in the graphic piece that would have been missing on such a long table (can you imagine that massive expanse of empty white tablecloth??), the flowers were low enough that everyone could pass food and chat across the table, and the red in the napkins ended up giving everything a fun pop of color.  

Together, it created a really fun feel for a special birthday celebration... and just look at this pretty lady... not a day over 39!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fabulous Find: Fun, Funky Fabric (like the alliteration?)

There is a good thing going on at Lewis and Sheron Textiles with tons - and I mean TONS - of amazing interior fabrics to choose from.  They have a promotion right now for 20% off all fabrics when you use the code LSFABRICS FIRST.  I'm thinking that since I'm doing a little freshening up at our house, it could be a great chance to get a few designer patterns at a discount!

I'm loving the citron colors in these patterns:

Clockwise from top left: Secret GateCoral SplendorAzzuro, Kalita

I'm also really loving this bird print, and dabbling with the idea of ordering a bit of it since it's just so pretty!  What I will do with it, I'm not sure yet, but I have a few ideas in mind...
Roberta 21003

This set of indigo prints are so pretty - this is one color that I love, but it doesn't exist anywhere in our house.  I'm thinking that this might be really soothing and pretty for the bedding in our bedroom.  The rest of the room is pretty much a neutral palate with light taupe walls, bright white trim, and creme colored silk curtains.  With white fluffy bedding, and an upholstered headboard with nail head trim... a few pillows in these prints could really wake things up.

Clockwise from top left: Cross SectionCasablanca WhtflaJoy (very aptly named I might add... this linking print in a blue bell color just makes me happy), Bloom Stripe

Finally, I just LOVE this water colored floral print - it's pretty enough to frame!  I'd love to order it, but I don't really have a great spot for it at the moment... 

I've Been a Busy Bee

Holy moly - does anyone else need a weekend from their weekend?!  I definitely do!  I got together with an old friend for brunch and mani pedis on Saturday, celebrated my mama's birthday with a big dinner party that night (more on that later), and on Sunday, we headed up to Mount Tamalpais in Marin county for what turned into a very tiring hike.

This is the view from the top... you can see San Francisco wayyy in the distance... and all that fog??  Yep, that's where the ocean should be!

Between all of that, I swear I have been making progress on our little hallway in the last week... proof??  Here is a sneak peek at the freshly painted and "antiqued" console table... excuse the wires in the background - the console has made a temporary home in the middle of our living room while the hallway gets painted.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Mama

To my beautiful mama on her 60th birthday - you are the most caring, loving person I know.  The first person I want to talk to when I have a problem, because you know just what to say to put everything into perspective.   You are such genuinely good person, a great friend, and such a wonderful partner to dad.  I admire your patience, your optimism, and your ability to see the good in everyone - all qualities I WISH I could have more of!

Practically perfect in every way, you have always been the standard that Elissa and I hold ourselves to (I know... I dangled my participles... twice now).

I am so proud to call you my mom.

To a lovely birthday today, and another wonderful year.