28 June 2011

moving announcements for the design inclined

In a rare, idle moment, I went looking around for moving announcements since (knock on wood) we should be finding our new (possibly second) place in the near future, and we'll need to share the news with everyone we deem worthy of a visit. Just kidding... we'll tell everyone. :-)

And, be still my heart. There are a whole bunch of moving announcements out there made for people JUST LIKE US. People who think about moving in terms of paint swatches and furniture arrangements, and not just cardboard boxes and styrofoam peanuts. Check out these beauties...

From Minted:

From Pear Tree Greetings:

From 123 Print, which I pretend personalized:

And more loveliness from Paper Culture, even if it's not quite in the paint swatch theme:

All that contact info is totally fake, so if you write us there, I apologize in advance for not writing back. :-)

Seeing moving announcements like this makes me even more excited to move. Of course, maybe we could do this completely on the cheap and just write or stamp our new info onto actual paint swatches. Too ghetto? Probably. But I ain't ruling it out either!

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21 June 2011

when you're drowning

... how do you cope?

As my sporadic posts might have already hinted at, I'm beyond-words-busy right now, to the point that I feel like I'm drowning. You know the to do list that feels a mile long? Yep, I'm there.

Photo from an unknown source, via A Year of Wellness

The whole premise of this blog -- and truly the center of my world view -- is that we can each be great at many things. We can kick ass in a high-powered career and then come home and whip up a fantastic gourmet dinner. We can make time for hobbies we love and the people we love. We can find whatever balance each of us seeks if we just prioritize those things that are most important for us, and make time for them.

Ordinarily, I would shout all of that from the mountaintops. (Nevermind that the echo would make it all unintelligible. Assume I'm shouting one syllable at a time.) :-) But right now, I read all that and think, "Wow, what a naive, Pollyanna-ish view!"

It's true. When we're drowning, it's hard to keep a broader view. So right now I feel like I'm drowning so much at work that I can't even process the other stuff. We swore to ourselves we'd have a party in July, since we haven't had one in a year and a half thanks to the renovations. But Mark is drowning as much as I am, and I can't even think about planning it without wanting to cry. And I LOVE planning parties!

When your to do list gets out of control, what do you do? Do you try to pare it down to the absolute essentials? Prioritize? Do lots of tai chi? Thrive off the insanity? Do what I do and quit posting to your blog? Or post more to distract yourself from the more pressing issues? Seriously, please share. I could use some tips!

P.S. Huge thanks to my sweet blog friends who wrote to check in after my big posting gap. Y'all are the best. :-)

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13 June 2011

hat fancy

I'm really not the trend following type. Actually, let me come totally clean: it's not that I don't follow trends, it's that I'm really not fashionable in the least.

There, I said it.

I think I've gotten pretty decent at putting a room together, but I have not yet mastered that skill when it comes to my own outfits. So please take this post in that spirit. Either I'm going counter to my nature and embracing a big trend, OR I'm getting way into something that's not at all trendy, and therefore I'm underscoring my lack of fashion sense. Naturally, I don't know which it is. :-) But here goes anyway...

After watching the royal wedding all those weeks back, I decided that I. LOVE. HATS. Love them. Need to have them. Fedoras, fascinators, bring it all on.

These photos, from People.com, are some of my favorites from the royal wedding, though the first one, of some of the Spenser family women, is like the Real Housewives of Westminster Abbey.

Though Americans have not been embracing hats in recent decades, I think it's high time we brought them back. They're so fun and clever. And they show off the wearer's sense of self-confidence. (However, I'm not sure that I actually possess the fashion confidence to pull any of these off!) Of course, a few did go overboard...

Okay, so let's get practical. Those hats were worn mostly by the rich and famous at the royal wedding. Not quite appropriate to everyday wearing by regular folks. But, this is summer wedding season. I can't think of a better time to take a fashion risk.

Check out these more wearable versions from Tiaras and Fascinators on Etsy, mostly in the form of hair combs and headbands, ranging from low-key to extravagant:

Oh, to have the stones to wear that last one! Maybe one day. And don't want to order your headwear all the way from the UK? There are loads of choices on Etsy for fascinators made here in the States.

Want a more DIY approach? There are some great tutorials out there, like:

How to make a fascinator hat base, by Threads Magazine

How to make a floral feather fascinator, by the Spotlight Inspiration Room

How to make a steampunk/burlesque fascinator, by MarySew

Will I actually muster the guts to wear a fascinator in public? Only time will tell. But I did buy a sweet, beachy fedora at Marshall's last week, and I've been wearing that. Baby steps...

How about you? Are you liking hats any more these days? Not so much? Always liked 'em and scowling at us bandwagon hoppers? :-)

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07 June 2011

kitchen on the kitchn

We have been feeling the love from Apartment Therapy in a big way lately, first from our full House Tour, and now from a Kitchen Tour on AT's food site the Kitchn. You can check it out here. (Kinda makes up for finishing close to last in their Small Cool contest!)

Thanks, Faith, for such a great write-up! And thanks again, Bethany, for the great photos!

If you're curious about anything in our kitchen, check out our comprehensive source list for everything you ever wanted to know.

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06 June 2011

to fixer or not to fixer

We're not in serious home-buying mode in Truckee yet (that's a cute old railroad town in the ski resort-laden Lake Tahoe region in California, for new readers), but we are starting to ask the question:

Do we want a fixer-upper?

Pros: We could get a loooooooooot (that's the long version of "lot," not "loot") more house for the money. And we could potentially spend a lot less total.

Cons: So. Much. Work.

Some houses are more of the cosmetic fixer variety, or maybe require removing a wall or two but don't need to be gutted. You could definitely live in them while renovating. Like this house.

Then there are the more serious fixers that, even if they don't need a total gut job, need something close to it. Like this house.

These two houses are right down the street from each other, they're almost exactly the same square footage, they both have self-contained "in-law units" with kitchenettes, and they're almost exactly the same price. Let's look a little closer...

The first house has cute details befitting a ski town, like an alpine-style exterior and wood beams across all the ceilings.

But it also has a totally bizarro kitchen layout.

Not having seen the house in person, I can't even begin to imagine how that could be reconfigured to function better. And I am usually pretty good at imagining that sort of thing.

The in-law unit, in this house over the garage, could definitely use a little work, but it could just be the mess in the photos that's making it look worse than it is.

Then there's the second house, which is clearly not being done any favors by the poorly taken photos.

I'd probably rip that whole kitchen out and start over, but at least the layout looks very functional, again never having seen it in person. Of course, the whole house needs more work, including the exterior (which scares me more than the interior), but the bones look good.

What would you rather do? Buy the house that needs mostly cosmetic updates but has a potentially major kitchen issue, i.e. major reconfiguration of the very center of the house? Or buy the house that needs a lot of work but doesn't need any reconfiguration?

Or would you just skip right over both of those and pay more for a finished house?

Stay tuned to see what we decide. :-)

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01 June 2011

diana's amazing furniture idea

Meet Diana, a dear friend since the ninth grade, and a source of constant inspiration for me.

 Photo by Kristilyn Vercruysse

Apropos here, I often think of Diana as my first "blogging" partner. ("Blogging" is in quotes because in those days the only equivalent was writing a 'zine and paying to print it yourself and at least trying to be an alterna chick -- Di, forgive me for sharing that alterna chick part! Ah, those many late nights at Kinko's, and very thoughtful discussions about whether to use the blue paper for the cover, or the red paper. Good call on the red. I still think we were way ahead of our time, including recipes in our 'zine. As for my vegan pancakes recipe from 1995, I think the kids have figured out better versions in the intervening years.)

Please pardon my little trip down memory lane!

These days you can find Diana editing the UK edition of All Recipes, and sharing lots of her own recipes on the US version. Many of her recipes are inspired by her Greek heritage, like this one for Greek octopus in tomato sauce which I would love to try, if only I had the cajones to tackle a whole octopus.

Photo by Diana, hosted on All Recipes

As if her life weren't interesting enough: growing up in the U.S. with a Greek dad, working post-college in Switzerland, going to grad school and working in London... she now lives with her husband in India, where many, many things are very different from things stateside. Though I speak for lots of her friends and family when I say that I hope India is a short-term thing, she has made the best of her time there.

Here is one genius example of just that.

Check out that gorgeous teak chair. Solid wood with beautiful grain, wonderful workmanship. And there's lots more where that came from!

Knowing that they'd be leaving India sometime in the near future, and knowing that wherever they'd land next they'd want some Midcentury modern/Danish-inspired pieces but wouldn't want to either pay $5000 for a vintage sideboard or settle for flimsy Ikea, Diana decided to commission some local craftsmen to make a number of versatile pieces that can travel with them for years to come.

All handmade, with no power tools. All 100 percent teak. A sideboard, bar, side table, nesting tables, two chairs, console table and ottoman. All for about $1400. Isn't that amazing?!?!

Maybe this will be good information to have the next time you find yourself in India with a looooooot of spare room in your suitcase. :-) Or maybe it will inspire you to approach a craftsman or carpenter in your own neck of the woods the next time you can't find quite the right piece at the stores or flea markets? I know the wheels are already turning in my head...

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