December 20, 2007

dreaming of a white christmas

Here are a few Christmas scenes from Better Homes & Gardens that I find particularly lovely.

December 19, 2007

seeing red

I'm loving all things RED this season and wanted to post a few of my favorites today.

1. Striped Nesting Bowls (The Curiosity Shoppe)
2. Madly Deeply Card (MadeByGirl)
3. Fleur-De-Lys Glasses (Anthropologie)
4. Red Ticking Apron (Basic French)
5. Ice Skate Stocking (Anthropologie)
6. La Marelle Hat (Anthropologie)
7. Tool Caddy (The MacBeth Collection)

December 18, 2007

movie time

I watched The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet for the first time last night, and it was every bit as cute and charming a romantic comedy as I hoped it would be. What I wasn't expecting, however, was how completely enamored I would be with both of their movie homes - Cameron's posh L.A. mansion and Kate's idyllic English cottage. I couldn't take my eyes off the sets during the entire movie, and I just love it when that happens!

Which gets me to thinking about the beautiful, memorable sets from some other favorite movies of mine. The thing they all have in common is that I can absolutely picture myself living in them - even if they are just pretend and sometimes so different from what I usually gravitate towards. I guess that's what makes great design - that I can love it and appreciate it even if it isn't exactly my style.

A few other movie homes that I would love to call my own:
The stylish Hamptons beach home in Something's Gotta Give
Kathleen Kelly's vintage apartment in You've Got Mail
The holiday-decked house in Home Alone
George Banks' traditionally-inspired home in Father of the Bride

(I've been online looking for set photos from "The Holiday" but I can't seem to find any, so instead I've got some lovely pics from Something's Gotta Give via SDSA.)

December 13, 2007

hot potato

I love mixing old with new and am always on the lookout for one-of-a-kind treasures, so it's no wonder that Three Potato Four is one of my favorite online boutiques. The shop is the brainchild of the fun-loving husband/wife duo Stu Eli and Janet Morales, both self-professed collectors who decided to share their love of collecting (and their great taste!) with the rest of us. They have a wonderful, ever-changing stock of vintage finds, quirky housewares and modern-day trinkets that definitely fit in my "little joys" category! Today I am swooning over the hand-blown glass Chickadee vases, the Cafemug and the Tiny Basket by Perch. So sweet (and perfect for gift giving)!

December 11, 2007

from me to you

Sadly, I don't think I'm going to have time to send out any Christmas cards this year (so disappointing!), but if I was I'd certainly send these lovely "Let it Snow" greeting cards by Paper Relics. The whimsical design has a charming, old-world feel, and I love the light green and pink color palette - what a great slant on the traditional holiday colors.

December 10, 2007

chicago fave: POSH

I've been a busy bee chipping away at my Christmas gift list, and my latest shopping trip included a stop at P.O.S.H. in River North. P.O.S.H. is one of my most favorite stores in the city - and one of the prettiest with its tables and shelves full of spectacular vintage and vintage-inspired finds. Most of the goods come from European hotels and flea markets, and every carefully-selected piece feels special - like it has a story. P.O.S.H. is approachable and friendly, and you never know what unusual treasures await you. I can spend hours scouring the dazzling assortment of silver, tableware, glassware, stationary, and ornaments, and I rarely leave the store empty-handed (this trip included!). I can't wait to give my gifts and hope they love them just as much as I do!

December 6, 2007

practice makes perfect

I've never been much of a writer. For some reason I've always struggled with getting my thoughts out on paper. My brain freezes. I stare at the intimidating blank page searching for the right words to say, and it just stares back. And then I give up and move on to something I can do - like napping. I think that might be why I admire all the writers out there who can do it - from the novelists who fuel my imagination with their thick plots to the bloggers who entertain me with their daily musings.

Lately, though, I have really wanted to go beyond just appreciating other people's writing to actually really trying it. I guess that's one of the reasons I started this blog - so I could talk about all the things I love and also practice this art form (so much practice!). I have to admit, that it's not so scary anymore. I'm actually growing to like it. And I'm finding myself scribbling down notes here and there on whatever "paper" I have handy - gum wrappers, kleenex, the back of my hand.

Which brings me to the point of this post: I need a journal. A beautiful bound journal (full of those not-so-scary blank pages) to collect my random thoughts. And what a beauty this journal is! I sure hope I find it (or something like it) under my tree this year!

December 5, 2007

happy shopping!

Sometimes I'm a little amazed at the amount of time I can spend "window shopping" on Etsy. I really should get paid for this! One of my very favorite shops is Blue Bell Bazaar. I make a point to stop here regularly to check out her covetable collection of vintage and modern accessories. Today I am swooning over the vintage glove molds, the set of four gold mugs, and the vintage letters.

December 4, 2007

full of beans

When I think of beanbags, I picture those old, faux-leather "blobs" from my childhood that made funny noises when we sat down. You can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon these sweet bean bag covers from Cocoon Couture. Each design features a "quirky critter in vintage fabric applique on 100% cotton pinwale cord." The covers are machine washable - kids can actually use them! - and they are lined to make sure the beans stay put. The little critters are just darling, and these covers will no doubt be a great addition to any child's room.

December 3, 2007

chocolate peppermint

I am totally coveting this super-cute apron by Jillie Willie, and I know I'd use it again and again for baking. How great that it's reversible! The thing is... I think I'd want to wear it all the time if it was mine. And not just when I'm in the kitchen. Gotta wrap presents? I should wear my apron! Watching the juicy drama unfold on "The Hills"? You bet I'll wear my apron! I think it even looks cute enough to leave the house in it. The pink and brown is so chic, and I love the combination of stripes, polka dots and florals. Just lovely!

text tiles

I try to come up with special ways to adorn my Christmas gifts each year... to add little finishing touches to the ribbons and wrap. This year I have to have a set of these handmade porcelain tiles from Paloma's Nest Etsy shop. Each tiny tile carries a festive message that is sure to bring a smile to anyone's face, and it can be a keepsake for years to come. How lovely!

November 29, 2007

time for tea

I went to lunch with my mom last Saturday to a quaint cafe called Bouchee. It was a chilly day - being late November in Wisconsin - so we each ordered a cup of tea to warm up. They were brought to our table in the most charming glass teapots filled with beautiful flowering teas that "bloomed" before our eyes as they steeped. It was enchanting. And they were delicious, to boot! What a perfect afternoon with my mom. I'd love to own my own Numi tea set to make every tea time just as special.

November 27, 2007

lovely linens

I heart these linen cocktail napkins from Inleaf. Designed and crafted by Lotta Helleberg, these charming napkins capture the beauty of nature in a simple, single geranium leaf print (handprinted from the impression of a real leaf!) on eye-catching fabrics. I'd love to have a few sets of these in my linen closet!

November 21, 2007

say cheese!

This set of four charming Bird Cheese Markers from Beehive Kitchenware caught my eye. I think they would be perfect presented with a selection of fine cheeses and a bottle of wine as a hostess or housewarming gift. For the cheese-lover or entertainer, the set would make a great stocking stuffer.

recipe to try: chocolate layer cake

I may as well just fess up now. I am a huge sweets lover. I am hopelessly devoted to cakes and cookies, pies and tarts, ice cream and chocolates, and cupcakes! I'd like to blame it on my genes and the long line of sweets-aficionados in my family or that I grew up in a household where dessert followed every meal. Whatever the reason, I love to eat desserts - always have.

And as a result, I have really grown to love baking. (what better way to get those sweet treats than to make them myself?) I don't think a day goes by - and I am not exaggerating here - that I don't check online at least once for a new dessert recipe. You can imagine my glee when I spied the recipe for this deliciously rich chocolate layer cake posted on Just Baking (one of my FAVE sites!), and originally posted on Epicurious. Just look at the picture of that cake! Drool. This recipe is a must-make!

November 20, 2007

i wish i took home-ec

If only I knew how to sew because then I could make these sweet Gum Drop Pillows by Amy Butler. Amy's got a great eye for scouting out lovely vintage fabrics, and her designs for hangbags, pillows and bedding are fantastic. The sneak peeks of Amy's design studio and home leave me feeling incredibly inspired and appreciative of her ability to blend soft, feminine fabrics with modern furnishings.

little details

I {heart} hand-made stationary and am always on the look-out for the cutest and most clever designs. I stumbled upon these adorable felted cards from Cake & Milk and am just smitten by them! The blank note cards can be used for any occasion. And at just $13.50 for a set of six, I am certain that they would make a perfect stocking-stuffer for someone this holiday season.

November 19, 2007

gets me thinking

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, I got to thinking that it would be a good idea to start a "what I'm thankful for" list. It's a way for me to stop and recognize the things that have made me smile and show my gratitude to the people who brighten my day. In these days of madly rushing from one thing to the next (especially now that the holidays are here), I think it is so important to observe all the good that is in my life.

So, here's a few things I am thankful for:

Keri's homemade pumpkin bread
The delicious "Me Want Cookie" cookies that Wade so generously shared with me!
Baking nights with Jen - and the sweet treats we come up with.
Knowing that I'll be home to see my parents in just 3 days!
Saturday night with my Deetah.
Lazy Sunday night at "sofa-city" with Wade.
Phone calls with Em, Kevin & Matt.
My Jazz station on Pandora - the music really calms me!
Turning 30.

I'm going to try to keep this up throughout the season, and I hope it will keep me grounded during all the holiday hullabaloo.

a new twist

Cute clothes and accessories usually come to mind when I think of Free People, but when I was on their site today, I stumbled upon their charming interpretation of a 1920's-era steamer trunk. Covered in patchwork quilts and with drawers lined in pink satin, this trunk would be the perfect accessory in a boudoir to hold jewelry and lingerie. Or I could see using it in a craft room for stowing all those little crafting bits and pieces. It would also be adorable in a little girl's bedroom so she could hide away all of her special treasures in one place. Love it!

a home to envy

Anna of Absolutely Beautiful Things posted some photos of her new home on Friday, and I am just enamored with her design! Her knack for mixing vintage with contemporary pieces is really remarkable, and I really love all the feminine touches she adds. The bunches of fresh flowers, colorful floral fabrics, and delicate trinket boxes and tea-light holders are just lovely. She certainly has a great eye, and her home reflects that in each and every piece. I only wish she was stateside so I could order some pieces from her boutique Black and Spiro, but shipping from Australia is (way!) too much, so I guess I'll just have to 'window' shop.

November 16, 2007

all that glitters

I just love the new Constellation line from jewelry designer EllaPoe. Alas, the pieces are not exactly in my price range, but a girl can dream, can't she? If I could pick just one, I'd get the Libra ring in white gold because I'd think of Wade every time I looked at it.

Who knows? Maybe someday I'll really be able to do just that.

November 15, 2007

pretty, pretty pottery

I'm really into hand-made pottery lately and think these charming hand-pinched footed tea bowls by Diana Fayt would be a nice addition to my small (but hopefully growing!) ceramics collection. The organic shapes and freehand floral sketches are lovely, and these delicate bowls would be perfect for a relaxing afternoon tea break (or ice cream break, as Diana suggests!)

call me!

I'm just smitten with these calling cards from iomoi. I'd love to order one with a simple, geometric pattern and then add a little embroidery or something around the edges to jazz it up.

November 9, 2007

it's the holiday season

And as long as I'm looking at VivaTerra, I've just got to get a pair of these holiday trees. Maybe it's the way the birch bark pieces gently layer atop each other or the beauty of the rustic tree trunks, but something about these little trees seems ethereal, calming. I don't know that I'd want to stow these away after the holidays. They might become a permanent fixture at my house!

i've got my eye on

I am loving these hand-crafted porcelain pear vases from VivaTerra. I can just see them as part of the centerpiece on my dining table or scattered about our bookshelves. I also love knowing that these are coming from an eco-minded company that values the harmony between people and our planet.

November 7, 2007

joie de vivre

I'm reading "My Life in France" the story of Julia Child and her time spent in France in the 1950's. During this time, her love of food and cooking was ignited, and quickly grew into her wanting to teach others to do the same. But her story is about so much more than cooking... it is about her following her dream and loving life along the way. It is heartwarming and funny and refreshing, and I'd bet anyone who reads it will find inspiration and at the very least want to make a reservation at the nearest French Bistro! Now I really want to go home and make crepes...

This is my blog. Thanks for stopping by...

Just like the title says, this blog is about the things -- big and small -- that inspire me and bring me joy. These things remind me just how wonderful this life really is. There is so much beauty out there, if we only stop for a moment to consider it.

Mostly I'll be on the lookout for creative sorts who have something wonderful to offer -- be it a mouthwatering recipe, a handknit scarf, or a captivating photo -- and then I'll use this blog as a way to applaud that talent.

I also like nothing better than to page through shelter magazines and online design galleries, absorbing each and every detail of the well-designed rooms, and so I'll most certainly be showing you all the rooms and homes that inspire me.

I'm hoping that along the way you'll get to know me a little better.

... and that you'll want to stay a while!

xo, kristin