The Best Of What's Around 10/24/14

What a busy week! The dining room is painted, and I'm still in awe of the difference it makes. I was so happy, I couldn't wait to share the progress on Instagram, after only one coat. It looks better now. I'll share Monday. 

Some things that caught my attention this week...

* Emily Henderson revealed her new studio, and no surprise, it's beautiful. I had to catch my breath after I saw this shelf full of brass.

* This midcentury gem is absolutely stunning. Try to ignore the staging, which is not even close to the midcentury aesthetic. Just soak in the house itself.

Now if only it were located in the southern suburbs of Dayton, and for sale four months ago. I know the kids would love a home with a pool in the middle. 

* I lost a few hours of my life to this collection of photos from 1935-1945. The site, created as a project at Yale University,  features an interactive map which allows you to choose any area in the U.S. and view images from that era. I love American History, with particular interest in the Great Depression. These pictures aren't gratuitously sad, just a realistic portrayal of what life was like at that time. 

Image of a salt plant on Seneca Lake in 1940, by Royden Dixon. It certainly doesn't look like that anymore. 

This has been a busy week. I'm ready for the weekend!

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On My Walls Pt. 1

I am admittedly picky when I decide what to hang on our walls. I prefer to have a memory or a meaning attached to anything hanging on the walls. You see it every day. Unless you're decorating a model home, and the purpose is to keep it neutral (& boring) in order to appeal to everyone, don't buy generic mass-produced canvas art from a retail chain. Yes, I'm guilty of buying mass-produced art in the past. I think I let the last piece go in a yard sale.

So what were the first things to go up in the new house?

1) Mr. Goat from Bully Hill. Probably not his really name.

Bully Hill is one of my favorite wineries to visit when I return to NY in the summer. The view is amazing. I love to take my Mom there for her July birthday. Also, when I visit Bully Hill, I have the opportunity to drive through Hammondsport, the most adorable little town in that area.

I've decorated with these wine labels before. I like this one for a kitchen setting, and the green plant below pulls the tiny bit of green from the label.

2) This vintage liberty/suffrage print and yard sale frame.

I bought the frame at a yard sale for .25 when I was in college. It was in rough shape, barely keeping its rectangular shape, but beautifully rustic. I purchased the print separately, and it sat in protective plastic for months until it dawned on me to put the print with the frame. I went to a professional frame shop, and they reinforced the frame so it's more solid now.

3) Blackberry Balsam

This isn't technically hanging on a wall, but I did want to display it right away. It contains my maiden name, so it always makes me smile to see that in print. I have one more BJ Kendall ad waiting to be framed. I would love to have more of these but they are rare. 

4) The wall of maps

These tell our story, and they fit perfectly on this wall. This was a no-brainer for a first decor project. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to have this area done. It brings peace of mind to have a main area settled and pretty.

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The Simple Plan For The Dining Room

I often create a design plan before I begin a new room. This helps me visualize the things I already have, and what I need.
In this case, I already have the major pieces, but will need to find the linen curtains. Maybe another DIY...

Painting begins today. We decided on Inkwell!

Curtains will be a neutral linen, very basic to balance the drama of the wall color. 

I'm considering relocating our bedroom dresser to the dining room. The dark stained wood will be beautiful against the dark blue. With the new closet, we really don't make use of the dresser. In the dining room it will be used to store extra linens and seasonal items.

And that's about it. I'll add some brass accents and a house plant. The plan is to keep it simple. Art will be easy and simple too.

Off to Sherwin Williams...

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A Project For Leftover Paint Samples, And Progress In Ella's Room

Ella's room has been a really fun space to design. 

It has evolved into the perfect celebration of color for this creative and colorful girl.

The idea for the headboard came to me as I was trying to figure out what the heck to do with all of this leftover paint. I had 12 paint samples leftover from the great wall color decision. I won't throw it away. Projects eventually materialize, and the paint always comes in handy. 

I saw this headboard from Urban Outfitters and fell in love. Ella loved it too, which rarely happens. The girl is picky. 

Unlike the inspiration headboard, I avoided staining the wood because the smell lingers for months, and with her sleeping so close to the headboard, I'd rather be safe than sorry. 

Instead, I made a light wash of leftover light gray paint and water, so the wood grain shows through. 

Ella was happy to help. 

After we measured and marked the center line, we taped random stripes, and chose colors in no particular order. 

I added a frame at the end, to even out the edges, and give it a more finished look. 

This vintage string art is perfect in here. Those colors!

The desk will receive a paint treatment to tie in with the headboard.

There are a few more things to do in here, but honestly, there will always be a list of things to do.

It's called life. I may never be done in here. But we're at a comfortable place, and she is happy in her room. I know because she spends hours in here, reading, crafting, coloring, and creating. That's all that matters to me. 

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Curtains In The Living Room

Nothing makes me happier than crossing something off the to-do list. Even more so when the thing to be done is both a pain in the neck, and a high-impact project. 

I have a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine, so this was definitely a pain in the neck. However, sewing them myself saved us hundreds of dollars, and I did a fine job. (pats self on back)

The curtains have been hanging for weeks, unlined and unhemmed. They looked sad. But not as sad as an entire wall without curtains. There are many levels of curtain-related sadness in my world.

The urge to begin other big projects was creeping in, so no more time for procrastination. 

A quick look back, before curtains:


Curtains add so much warmth, coziness, and a layer of design to build upon.

Also worth noting, the drastic difference between unlined (on the left) and lined (on the right). Aside from protection from the sun and the associated fading, the lining adds fullness and filters the sunlight nicely.

The most exciting part is when I imagine the painted dining room, and the deep blue walls peeking around the corner against these curtains.

The plan is coming together!

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An Admittedly Pedestrian Bucket List

This is adapted from an earlier list, which is why several items are already crossed off. I will update my list as things happen and exciting new ideas occur to me.

Why the cat? Because the cat is awesome. 

There are so many things I want to do, so many places to visit, and so many skills to learn. These wishes are not particularly exciting, just interesting to me. I have no desire to climb Mt. Everest or jump out of an airplane. Oh my gosh, the thought of jumping out of an airplane stresses me out.

I will observe without judgment as you swim with sharks, with absolutely no desire to join you. I don't care to dine on the side of a mountain, nor will I ever get a tattoo.

I'm so boring, I know!

My list, in no particular order:
  1. go to Europe (there are far too many things within this single item to list)
  2. go on a very long yoga retreat
  3. visit Gettysburg
  4. visit Salem
  5. study Italian
  6. ride a beach cruiser to the park
  7. learn to play cello again
  8. drive Route 66
  9. adopt a rescue dog
  10. see Jack White live
  11. go on a historic walking tour of Manhattan
  12. visit Iceland
  13. make a quilt
  14. take a cooking class
  15. take a pottery class
  16. learn to paint
  17. take the kids to the ocean 
  18. see the kids graduate from high school
  19. see the kids graduate from college
  20. take the kids to Washington D.C.
  21. celebrate 50 years with Jason
  22. visit Alcatraz
  23. visit the Winchester Mystery House
  24. stay at a bed & breakfast
  25. complete a 5K
  26. complete a half marathon
  27. orchestrate an anonymous "pay it forward" act
  28. fly on a private jet
  29. reconnect with certain old friends
  30. commit to a vegetarian lifestyle
  31. learn to knit
  32. learn to crochet
  33. learn to sew
  34. restore an old home
  35. learn transcendental meditation
  36. go to lunch and a movie by myself
  37. throw someone a surprise party
  38. successfully finish a cleanse
  39. return to Palm Springs to soak up the mid-century elegance
  40. watch Jason sky dive, because he really wants to do this for some reason
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Scenes From Saturday

Today I sat back and soaked in all of the creativity going on around me. This was a day full of making.

Ella was busy making bats. Then she decorated the empty foyer wall with these creatures, because, obviously. She used this pattern.


I like how she hung one upside-down in the "sleeping bat" position.

Jason made Clam Chowder, which is a huge departure from his usual weekend soup. He also "made" a ton of noise during the big football game. Scared the crap out of the kids and the cat.

Jason is wearing his Saints jersey a day early because Iowa lost today. His Iowa jersey was angrily thrown to the floor after the loss. He tells me this is very important, and football people will notice the jersey discrepancy. I tried so hard not to roll my eyes, but whatevs.

I made pillows and finished the headboard. And if you're keeping track, that means I finished my to-do list, and now I have permission (self-granted) to proceed with painting the dining room!

And tonight we carved pumpkins!

No, the kids aren't usually allowed to perch on the table. This girls is intense...she has laser-sharp focus. She won't let anything get between her and the perfect jack-o-lantern.

His other specialty is roasted pumpkin seeds. So good.  

I just have to laugh when I look at this sad but sweet group of jack-o-lanterns. They're like a gang of misfits.

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