May 16, 2013
Green just happens to be one of my favorite colors. (It seems as though I have a lot of favorite colors these days.) In fact, it's inching up on red rather quickly. However, I'm not so sure I'm crazy about either of these photos. When is an abundance of the same color simply too much? What do you think?
I'll be back with my thoughts tomorrow. Post here, on Facebook, or via email and we'll get this conversation started.
Update 5/17: It seems as though all of you who posted on my Facebook page, my Facebook group pages, and via email seem to agree... you love green and the way it's been used in these photos.
However, I am going to advise you that too much of a good thing can be just that, too much. Just as with any other design element, the eye has no place to rest if you overindulge in the same pattern, color, texture, etc. So, proceed with caution when using your favorite things. Keep them from becoming commonplace and let them shine instead.
Images via lisamendedesign.blogspot.com and tobifairley.com
May 15, 2013
In the meantime, I've added Instragram to my social media list. So far, it's been okay. I'm more of a Facebook versus Twitter kinda gal. I prefer my desktop to my laptop. I like keyboards better than touch screens. I guess I'm rather old-fashioned when it comes to technology. But... I'm giving it a shot and we'll see where it takes me.
May 14, 2013
Nah... kitchen drawers are it. If you're considering re-doing your kitchen anytime soon, reconsider the cabinet. Drawers are not just for silverware, they're for spices, towels and linens, and lots and lots of dishes. I only have one large bank of drawers in my kitchen, and I can still remember the installer wondering why I chose these because he thought I was wasting space. Au contraire... you actually gain space and organization, not to mention the ease of transferring clean dishes from the dishwasher to drawers instead of hard-to-reach cabinets. And you can actually see what you're looking for. Viva la drawer!
Image via houzz.com
May 10, 2013
In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I would share a few things my mother has taught me that I rely on again and again.
- If you don't have anything nice to day, don't say anything at all. I'm not a big fan of gossip or idle chit chat, so I've learned to choose my words wisely and sit back and listen before offering a response or opinion.
- Make people feel at home. My mother is a consummate hostess. She always has too much food, she knows everyone's favorite drink, and she'll wait on you hand and foot. I still need a little work in this area.
- Always show up early... never keep people waiting. I was taught that if you were on time, you were late. Unfortunately, this means I do a lot of waiting myself.
- Say "please" and "thank you". These words are magic. I followed in her footsteps and these two words were some of the first my children learned.
- How to make a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. If I don't make her sage and onion stuffing each year, it just isn't Thanksgiving.
She brought me countless drinks of water in the middle of the night without complaint. She would rub my tummy or my head when I was sick. I can still see her sitting in my high school auditorium knitting while I rehearsed another song or a scene. She drove me to singing lessons and any and every school event without making me feel as though I was putting her out.
Thank you, mom.
What I hope I've taught my own children so far.
- You can never say "I love you" enough. I tell them this at least once a day.
- There is no such thing as spoiling a baby or a child with too many hugs and kisses. I don't care how old they are.
- I learn as much from them as they learn from me. My girls are a lot smarter than I was at their age. Their poise and maturity astounds me sometimes.
- Family is the most important thing. The rest of this stuff is all filler. I will not die wishing I had spent more time working on a project or making more money.
Have a wonderful Mother's Day!
This post was written for the Nerdwallet Mother's Day Your Way contest. To enter the contest yourself, check out Mother's Day Your Way.
May 9, 2013
Whenever my children asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, I always responded with, "Peace and quiet". Why? Three kids, two dogs, and a husband who makes just as much mess and noise as the rest of them was reason enough. But I find that I really don't want peace or quiet these days. I want to be surrounded by my family—the mess and the noise, too.
My day would start with a breakfast I normally wouldn't treat myself to; something sinful and delicious (like my grandmother's banana muffins). I would read hand-made cards filled with vibrant marker-colored words and cute little stickers even though my children have graduated way beyond the crayon stage of their lives. And then I would simply enjoy their company. I want to hear stories, be asked questions, and bask in the sunshine on the back porch while we laugh until we can't laugh any more. I want to hold on to the day and have it stretch into the next.
Mother's Day is just another day that reminds me of how lucky I am.
My grandmother passed down this recipe to my mom, and she passed it down to me. I know I've featured it before, but this recipe bears repeating...
My Grandma's Banana Bread Muffins
2 large or 3 small ripe bananas (The riper the better.)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. real vanilla extract
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add liquid ingredients (eggs, vanilla, and shortening) one at a time incorporating the ingredients together as you go. Add the bananas and mix until combined, but don't over mix. Fill muffin tins three quarters full and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes, or bake into bread and cook for 1 hour. Optional: Add fresh blueberries. Or top them with blueberry jam. Or raspberry, or...
This post was written for the Nerdwallet Mother's Day Your Way contest. To enter the contest yourself, check out Mother's Day Your Way.
May 8, 2013
On the wall, on a shelf, leaning, or hanging, art can add so much to a room. (Type in "art" in my search this blog box and read through my thoughts on art.) Here are some photos to inspire you.
Images via ruemag.com, bhg.com, parisapartment.wordpress.com
May 7, 2013
This past weekend, my oldest daughter attended her senior prom. We spent weeks looking for the right dress, shoes, bag. We practiced make-up looks and hair styles. She broke in her shoes by wearing them around the house. She had her ticket, her list of must-haves for the evening, and I had plenty of film for the camera. However, there were a few last minute things we, ummm, forgot. We made a harried phone call to the local florist just days before begging for a wrist corsage and boutonniere. And then another to a local nail salon. All was well. Until the big day...
She was late! (Yes, you were.) She had all day Saturday to primp and fuss. But instead, she just chilled out in her room thinking about the night ahead. Tucked away in her room, I checked in on her twice to see if there was anything she needed. I knew better than to check any more than that as her nerves were a little frayed. I paced and kept myself busy with yard work, but by 5:00 I was beginning to panic because that was the time we scheduled to start doing her hair. I set up the hair station. (The dry run we held earlier in the week proved to us that her hair would take a solid hour to do.) I checked the clock: 5:15. I made sure the curling iron was really ready. By 5:30, she sauntered down the stairs. "Wow, I didn't realize it was so late! Is everything ready?" Sheesh. You would have thought I was going instead of her. Without comment, I started on her hair. By 6:00, one half was done. She started to text her date to coordinate pick-up. She uttered the words "oh man" several times. Her sister got in on the act and started to fill her purse with all of her must-haves. I kept my lips sealed and kept curling. By 6:30 the troops had arrived and I was putting the finishing touches on her hair. She panicked and ran upstairs to dress. I ran up after her to spray her hair and insert some jeweled combs.
No, the yard didn't look as pretty as it should have this time of year (The leaves are just peaking through and the grass is taking its time coming in.), but as the sun was starting its decent, the couple looked just wonderful. It was a beautiful night. "Okay, enough photos. It's time to go."
P.S. I asked her if she would like to read this post before I published it. Her response: "Don't you need to get my permission now that I'm 18?" I decided to exercise my 1st amendment rights.
May 3, 2013
Perfect for Mother's Day, these Kindle covers by Klevercase will disguise your e-reader in style. I'm thinking they might make excellent notebook covers, too. Hmmm. I was in the bookstore just the other day thinking about the merits of e-readers versus books, but I'm still firmly planted in the has-to-be-a-real-book category. Still...
May 1, 2013
I am not a gardener. I have a small herb garden in my side yard, beds of perennials around the house, and flowering bushes in my yard. I pot more herbs on my porch and that's pretty much the extent of my gardening adventurers. The one time I tried my hand at a vegetable garden, I failed miserably. Who knew you needed to know about proper drainage and the advantages of just the right amount of sunlight? I certainly didn't back then. But... I do dream of one day having a small, thriving vegetable garden so I can just go pick my lunch or dinner whenever I want.
I hope these photos and ideas will inspire you to dream about your own garden.
Learn about organic gardening here. Read tips on creating a raised bed vegetable garden here. And read this story about Sharon Lovejoy's potager (kitchen) garden here.
April 30, 2013
No matter how you slice it, orange is definitely one of my favorite colors. And if it has a touch of red in it, so be it, but I'll take almost any shade and use it in my home and my wardrobe. I think orange is seasonless. It's perfect for fall of course, but I also think of it as a summer color, too. Have you ever seen a beautiful sunset without some shade of orange bursting through? I haven't. I'm dreaming about an orange sarong, the perfect clutch or tote (The Marc Jacobs one pictured above isn't too bad.), and a flirty skirt or wrap blouse that would look oh-so dreamy with white, camel, or blue.
Yes, I know not everyone is wild about orange, but just take a peek at these posts here, here, and here and see if I can't convince you otherwise. (Just type the word "orange" into the search box and you'll find lots more.)
Images via viteristylemanagement.blogspot.com, dispatchfromla.typepad.com, bhg.com
April 24, 2013
Details make all the difference... Style a tabletop, bookcase, sideboard, bureau, or just about any surface you can imagine with interesting, colorful, fun, and easy-on-the-eye objects, and you can create and re-create a stylish display that shows off your personality.
As I've mentioned before, accessorizing is my favorite part of the decorating process. I miss my window dressing days when all I had to do was take beautiful items out of packages and place them here and there to my heart's content. I tell my students that accessorizing (or re-accessorizing) a room is the quickest and most inexpensive way to make a change. Just pull things off your tables and start to rearrange items to give your rooms a whole new look in less than an hour.
Mix it up and move it around, that's the only rule. If you like what you see, snap a picture and start all over again to see how many looks you can come up with.
Images via brabournefarm.blogspot.com, roomsinteriordesign.blogspot.com, elledecor.com, hallready.blogspot.com,
April 23, 2013
My family and I spent this past Sunday taking a mini tour through New England. You've got to love the fact that in just one day you can visit three different states, see the ocean, the mountains, a couple of cities and the countryside. And that's just what we did. Up and out by 7:00 am we headed southeast to Rhode Island for the last leg of our college tour for daughter #1.
Our first stop was to Providence to visit a couple of schools just outside of the city. We then traveled southwest to visit another before heading back to Providence and meeting up with my son for lunch. Back in the car once again, we traveled northeast into Massachusetts to tour yet another campus. I think at this point we were all ready to call it a day, but because we were so close to Boston we knew we couldn't go home without treating ourselves to a little pick-me-up at Caffé Vittoria and then dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in the North End.
A few minutes past 9:00 that night, we pulled into our driveway and called it a day. It was exhausting but fun, and in the end my daughter chose to go to school in Boston. She was 90% sure that's where she would end up, but she just wanted one more look around. She'll now be one of the thousands of students that descend on the city each September just a short walk away from where I started my college years nearly three decades earlier. Amazing.
April 18, 2013
Don't mind if I do. The rooms that have the darkest wall colors in my home happen to be two of the smallest. Why do you think that is? Because it just wraps the room in warmth and dark colors can make a room look larger than it actually is. Really? Really.
I give this example to my students in class... In your mind's eye, I want you to picture a very tall ceiling with lots of pipes, cogs, and wheels. This type of room may be found in a commercial or residential setting and has a very industrial look to it. (Picture lofts in Boston or NYC.) Now imagine looking up and seeing all of those cogs and wheels. Most people paint this area white, but then the only thing white does is show off all of the lines and angles. Now imagine that ceiling painted black. It disappears. Just like the night sky, it is now infinite. You don't know where the ceiling begins or ends. That's what a dark color can do for your rooms.
In this particular case, the home of jewelry designer Lisa Salzer has chosen to paint her walls a dark navy. This color balances the room (Those high ceilings would look even higher if she chose a light shade), and makes the perfect backdrop for artwork and furnishings. However, the only wall painted this color is the focal wall. Now I'm not usually a fan of painting just one wall in a room, but you have to take into consideration the proportions of the space and what you want to achieve from the overall effect. (You'll notice darker furnishings are placed to balance the light so there is never an abrupt transition between spaces.) Check out the rest of the photos from the Glitter Guide to see what you think.
BM 833 Evening Sky, Glidden GLB25 Rich Navy, BM 2061-10 Deep Royal
BM 2067-10 Midnight Navy, Ralph Lauren VM140 Almafi Navy
April 17, 2013
Attention office workers stuck in drab, gray partitioned-off spaces, this is a great way to personalize your area for very little money. It's also a fun way to decorate a child's room, or even a family room. Attach photos, quotes, mini posters... anything that catches your eye. You could even paint out these boards to keep them from looking too officey and a bit more stylish.
Image and great idea from Rachel Shultz.
April 16, 2013
So... in this business of design, specifically one-day (or one-week) makeovers, I'm always fascinated by everyone else's "after" and how they came up with their particular solution. It seemed only fitting that the week after I've just completed training would be a good time to pull up these photos from House Beautiful that were featured in one of their issues last year.
Clearly the "before" room needs help. There is no sense of flow, no sense of style, and a clear lack of color, pattern, and direction. The room lacks focus and it needs a lot of attention to detail. So let's start with flow... As you walk into the room (you can see the entrance on the left-hand side) you are immediately blocked by furniture. This arrangement doesn't invite you into the room and it doesn't utilize the current furnishings into any sort of functional configuration. Given, there is some texture, but the lack of color (and pattern) leaves the room looking flat. Blue and white is a good start, but only a start.
Bookcases, just like rooms, need balance. Pay attention to each individual shelf and the unit as a whole. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed and have fund mixing it up with a pop of color as they did here with this yellow vase. (You'll notice bits of yellow seen again two shelves up.) Color, or equal distribution of color, is just one way to help balance a room.
And here it is again. The yellow is then moved around the room to help achieve balance throughout. Just remember, too much of this strong shade and you will have a room that only Big Bird would appreciate. (What do you think of the mantel?)
Here is the after. How did they do? They've added purple as a fourth color (mixing both complementary and analogous colors which is A-Okay in my book) and added a whole lot of pattern.
Before you answer, check out the makeover step by step over on the HB website. Tell me what you think about the after. What would you do differently?
After I read your responses (here, via email and Facebook), I'll post them here and give you my take.