January 31, 2008

spring fever

I sat in on a fabric and wallcovering presentation by our rep from Osborne & Little this morning, and I decided I must have a serious case of spring fever because I was completely gravitating towards the floral collections. They were so spring-like with their vivid pops of color and fresh patterns... especially appealing on a snowy winter day.

January 30, 2008

send a little love

Bloesem blogged about Debi van Zyl's Etsy shop today, and I was just so smitten with her paper goods, that I had to do a post too. The I Love You, Dearest tags and Card are perfect for Valentine's Day. I'll definitely keep an eye out for new goodies from Debi.

ceramics - kec+jwc

( Birch Mugs and Doodle Dessert Set)

(Umbrella Girl, City Boy, The Family Tree, and Love Birds.)

My friend, Lisa, forwarded me a link to Jessica Rust Designs yesterday, and I am just loving her ‘Rabbit Toes’ ceramics line. I am a huge fan of monogramming, so the personalized dinnerware is right up my alley. What a great way to celebrate an anniversary, a new baby or a birthday! The ceramics – ranging from mugs to platters – showcase Jessica’s organic designs on functional, simple pieces. The result is a collection of individualized, contemporary tableware that can actually be used! Be sure to check back regularly because new limited-edition designs are introduced each month.

January 29, 2008

i'll go with you

I don't usually post about music because I'm definitely not one of those cool, hipsters who knows all the latest tunes, and if I did write about what I'm listening to, then I'd have to admit to the great big internet that I mostly tune in to 80's pop music. {Oops... just did!}. But today I figured I'd write a little about what I'm currently listening to. "Currently" as in right now as I type this. As in what I have been listening to over and over on repeat all morning. I cannot get enough of Con te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli. His singing is something special... it's a gift. I get chills up my spine each time he gets to the lovely melody of the chorus. I just love it!

January 28, 2008

nature made

Here are a few nature-inspired goodies that I'm currently loving:

1. Nature Tray from Orange Lola
2. Songbird Chandelier from Anthropologie
3. Dove Coral Pillow from Jayson Home & Garden
4. Felt Pebbles from Branch
5. Stacked Stone Candlesticks from Bleu Nature
6. Artisan Wood Vases from Anthropologie
7. Stick Mirror from Bleu Nature

January 27, 2008

loving it

Having just come from a fantastic Bikram Yoga class with Elly, I got to thinking that it would be nice to carry the extra change of clothes, water bottle and towels in a pretty little bag. And wouldn't this be just the perfect bag for the job? I'm gaga over the delightful ruffles of crisp white cotton. The bag is ultra-feminine but not fussy, and just my style!

January 25, 2008

pillow talk

I am really loving these handmade pillows from Jacaranda. The pillows are made in the "traditional Oaxacan technique", and I am especially drawn to the mix of bright, bold colors and intricate hand-loomed details of the flowery design. I guess I'll just have to add these to my wish list, though, because at $250 each, they're a bit out of my budget. {sigh}

The folks over at Jacaranda have made it their mission to offer handmade products - mostly from Mexico, Central and South America - with an emphasis on sustainable design. So, if you've never checked out their goods, I'd definitely recommend taking a quick stroll through their site where you'll find all sorts of lovely objects.

January 24, 2008

c'est magnifique

Since I don't speak French I'm not sure what the captions are, but it doesn't matter anyway because I am completely delighted by these gorgeous interior shots of a private residence from Marie Claire Maison. The rooms are quietly simple and thoughtfully pared down, yet still have oodles of charm and warmth. The little bursts of color in the textiles and objects in an otherwise all white space are perfectly applied without feeling fussy or overdecorated. I love the large gray-tone horizontal bands on the living room walls (who would have thought horizontal bands could still feel so airy?!), and the dusty pink tones in the bedroom are softly inviting. The minimal, airy kitchen with the vintage folding chair and rustic wood table sitting under a crystal chandelier is just lovely. When can I move in?

January 23, 2008

in the bedroom

I guess I'm still fantasizing about that long nap because {omg!} I have got to have a set of these sheets! She's done it again, that Vera. Lovely!

January 22, 2008

nestled all snug in their beds

Maybe it's because I'm a little sleep-deprived lately (due in large part to raising a new puppy ~ which I'll post about later) or because of the dreadfully-cold weather outside, but for some reason all I can think about is running home and crawling into my bed for a good long nap. And what a cozy nap it would be if I wrapped myself up in this fabulous bedding from Twinkle Living. The patterns range from modern geometric zigzags to Asian-inspired florals. And I love the color palette blending cool neutrals with bursts of warm colors. The patterns can be mixed-and-matched for a sophisticated yet carefree look. How's that for a new style? Sophisticated Whimsy.

January 21, 2008

recipe to try: quinoa muffins

This past weekend was utterly, bone-chillingly frigid. To say the least. The temps hovered just around zero degrees, and it was the type of weather that seems to just creep into your core and keep you chilled for hours. Needless to say, we didn't do much outside the house beyond running a few errands each morning, and by Saturday evening, I was already coming down with a serious case of cabin fever. I simply could not lay on the sofa zoning out to reruns of Project Runway for one minute more! I decided it was high time to dust off my recipe books and bake up some yummy goodness instead. (New Year's resolutions be damned!)

I read about this recipe for quinoa muffins in the Jan/Feb '08 issue of Everyday Food {Sidenote - this is definitely one of my most favorite magazines! I can't wait for each new issue to come and once I'm through the poor things are just covered in dog-ears. Everyday Food is chocked full of delicious recipes that are easy to make using simple to find, regular grocery-store ingredients. It's a great resource for anyone who loves to cook & bake.}

I didn't have quinoa - and certainly wasn't about to run out and buy some! - so I decided to substitute couscous in its place, which created a great, grainy texture (sort of like cornbread). The muffins had just the right mix of sweet and salty, and the raisins added one more tasty element to the mix. {I love raisins, so I added a little more than was actually called for.} The muffins were a cinch to make and baked up just beautifully - and they looked like the picture, which is always a plus in my book.

Quinoa Muffins
Makes 12

1 cup quinoa, rinsed {I substituted couscous}
1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar {I substituted regular brown sugar}
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup whole milk {I substituted skim milk}
1 large egg {I substituted egg-beaters}
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11 to 13 minutes. {If using couscous, follow directions on box.}

Meanwhile, brush a standard 12-cup muffin pan with oil; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, raisins, and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups.

Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

January 19, 2008

too late

Oh that I didn't snap this up when I had the chance! I just love this Chip's Chocolate Wood Crate from Three Potato Four {don't they just have the best goodies?!}. It would have looked perfect sitting atop our wine cabinet at the front door. I'd use it to catch all my unruly stuff that doesn't really have a 'home' and is never where I can find it when I need it. But alas, this charming crate has found a place in someone else's {lucky!} home...

January 17, 2008

recipe to try: chocolate layer cake (2)

Remember that mouth-watering chocolate cake I posted about here? Well, I forgot to update you... Wade made me this cake for my birthday!! What a wonderful gesture for a chocoholic! Rich, delicious and super-chocolatey. To. Die. For. I'm embarrassed to say that we polished off the whole thing (not in one sitting!), but it was just too heavenly to pass up.

January 14, 2008

lovely bedroom

OK, so I know that the interiors in the Pottery Barn catalog are probably poo-pooed upon by interior designers as a place to go for inspiration, but I have to admit that I often feel quite moved by the rooms so thoughtfully planned on those pages. {Shh! Don't tell my bosses!} The designers, lighting experts and photographers know just how to capture the essence of each room with the careful placement of furnishings and objects. They skillfully incorporate the day's trends with classic styles for a well-rounded look that we can try to create in our own homes.

I know the interiors are meant to showcase the store's furniture and accessories, but I actually often find myself looking past the products to the arrangement of the furniture or the wall and trim paint colors. I'm usually paying close attention to the flower arrangements displayed just perfectly or the style of pleating on the window treatments. Pick up a PB catalog at my house, and you'll probably find a ton of dog-eared pages that I like to revisit for ideas in my home.

Here's a lovely PB bedroom from one of the latest catalogs. I love the how the painted blue dresser pops against the dark taupe walls. And the artfully arranged vases with flowering branches makes me want to run to my nearest garden center for my own bouquet of loveliness. The sheer drapery panels have a light, ethereal quality, and the modern black and white artwork is the perfect complement to the lively,floral-patterned bedding. The paint color in my bedroom is similar, and I am on the lookout for a new dresser, so this is just the right dose of inspiration for me. This room will definitely be added to my file!

January 11, 2008

shed some light on me - part 2

Wow. That's the first thing I uttered when I spied these Bamboo Cloud Chandeliers at Rian Rae. The hand-crafted fixtures are stunning. Absolutely, breath-takingly stunning. I love the organic quality of the woven shades, and don't you think the natural shape is a bit reminiscent of bee hives?

I love to see products that are made using long-established techniques in new ways, and reading that the "geometric joints are hand-tied" further lends to the appeal of these gorgeous chandeliers. You better believe that I will be adding these to my "Dream Home Wish List," but for now I can only daydream of them hanging in their quiet beauty over my dining table. {sigh}

I'd also like to send a shout-out to Jeni Crawford for the launch of her new online shop, Rian Rae Interiors & Gifts. Jeni's got great taste and has sourced a delightful selection of unique and beautiful home furnishings and objects. I will come back again and again to see what new products she adds to her already fabulous collection.

January 10, 2008

shed some light on me

Today I wanted to do a mini round-up of some gorgeous chandeliers that definitely get my stamp of approval.

1. Pagoda Chandelier in Coral from Jayson Home & Garden
2. Serena Bowl Chandelier by Oly
3. Meri Drum Chandelier by Oly
4. Teardrop Pendant from Anthropologie
5. Silver Pendant from Inside Avenue
6. Eliza Black Chandelier from Jayson Home & Garden
7. Copacabana Chandelier by Arteriors via Inside Avenue

January 9, 2008

bright and beautiful

Livingetc. is the place to go for design inspiration. With it's bevy of gorgeous interiors, there's always something to delight. I can spend ridiculous amounts of time just scrolling through the lovely photo galleries and often go here for solutions to my decorating dilemmas. The site is a cinch to navigate, and I usually head straight to the Inspiration Gallery that's categorized by room, and then grouped by style, color and details. It couldn't be easier!

I've been really drawn to white rooms lately, so I focused today's search on just that. I'm sure it's because it's winter time in the Midwest, which makes it seem like it's dark all the time. I wake up and it's dark, I leave work from work and it's still dark. So pretty much the only time that it's actually light outside is when I am at work, and that's just not fair! Somehow seeing the airy, white rooms leaves me feeling refreshed, uplifted and ready to face another {dark} day. And I love the mix of the rustic wood pieces with the crisp white. It's such a great combination.

Here are a few {white} kitchen spaces that I find especially pleasing - and that are also a good antidote to the winter blues.

(From top: white shelving with eclectic mix of pots, white breakfast bar with rustic wood stools, another example of open white shelving, a chic family kitchen, and open shelves with a burst of citrus.)

January 8, 2008

i'm a softie

I don't know how I stumbled upon Avocadolite Farm, but boy am I glad I did because I found these loveable crocheted critters! Wouldn't a baby shower gift look just perfect with one of these little guys adorning it? Or couldn't you just see one of these sitting on top of a pile of candy in an Easter basket? Most measure about 2-3" high, which makes them all the more precious! And I loved reading their bios. Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that there are more animals available to "adopt" soon because I'd love to take a couple home with me!

January 7, 2008

chicago fave: bittersweet

(outside Bittersweet on a snowy December day)

(The bakery counter showcasing lip-smacking treats)

A few weeks back, my dear friend, Elly, and I met for coffee and a bite to eat at Bittersweet Pastry Shop in Lakeview. Actually, I'm not much of a coffee-drinker, so I sipped a mug of tasty herbal tea while Elly had her coffee. But I digress.

It had been a while since my last visit to the bakery and cafe, and upon stepping into the warm and cheery space, I was quickly reminded of how much I like being there. It's like being transported to a European patisserie with row upon row of tantalizing treats. Luscious tarts, rich chocolate brownies and perfectly-browned merengues line the bakery shelves, alongside oodles of bite-size cookies, crumbly fresh-fruit cobblers and airy French macarons. And did I mention the ice cream? Yep - you can even get that. {cue the mouth watering}

Besides the huge assortment of delightful sweets, the shop also offers fresh-baked breads, muffins, and croissants daily, and those who want something a little more filling will find a menu of homemade soups, quiches and sandwiches. The sunny cafe is the perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon with a friend over coffee (or tea!) and pastries. Bittersweet pretty much has it all, and I'm game any time Elly wants to go back!

January 4, 2008

the charm of vintage

(photos all from Anthropologie)

I love coffee table books - especially design books - and can spend hours paging through them absorbing every detail of the lovely interiors. I am so excited for my latest Amazon order to arrive because I am adding two more books to my collection.

I've had my eye on Flea Market Style by Emily Chalmers for months, and when it didn't turn up under my Christmas tree this year (my mistake - I forgot to put it on my wish list!), I just had to order it. That, and because I'm sure that the staff at Barnes+Noble is sick of me paging through their copy! Flea Market Style illustrates how to incorporate antique furnishings into contemporary spaces in fresh and unexpected ways. It emphasizes the importance of taking time to adorn your home with thoughtfully selected pieces. The interiors are swoon-worthy and full of handy ideas for decorating in the Vintage Modern style.

The second book, which looks to be just as inspiring, is Creating Vintage Style by Lucinda Ganderton. This book not only provides delightful photos of Vintage Modern interiors, it also highlights the key elements that create the look and suggests ways to incorporate those elements to suit your own style. It shows that Vintage Modern is an easy to style to live with that can also be easy on your wallet.

I love Vintage Modern. There is something so warm and inviting about an interior that merges the old with the new. Well-worn furnishings and fabrics seem to have a story to tell, and it's exciting to see how objects that were functional in their past lives can be used in completely new ways, sometimes to be just appreciated for their own beauty. I think it's lovely to blend objects full of character with those still waiting to develop their own patina and story.

Holly, over at at decor8, blogged about the style yesterday, and I love the term she has come up with to describe it: Boho Modern. Holly writes, "Boho Modern is: Mixing old with new. Building your space over time. ...feminine with an edge. It's deeply personal... Traditional design "rules" are thrown out the window, replaced by a casual beauty that comes from the heart. It's all about textures and details. It's about living a more creative life and decorating from the heart. Eclectic living."

Now if that doesn't sum up this charming style, I don't know what does.

January 3, 2008

welcome 2008!

Well, we've seen 2007 come and go, and now we're already three days deep into 2008. It's that time once again when we reflect on the moments of years past and look eagerly ahead to all that's new. It's also resolution time when we evaluate our lives and make goals to do more of this {fill in the blank} or less of that {fill in the blank}. One of my resolutions this year is to work harder to live "greener."

A really easy change that makes a huge difference is to carry reusable shopping bags instead of stocking up on all those plastic bags from the grocery store. I already carry the grocery store brands of these reusable bags, but they're not exactly stylish. My online search for canvas totes brought me to these beauties from Lisa Solomon at her online shop, Underdog Ink. I just love the chic designs - especially the Bird on Rhino and Circle of Ponies. Kermit was wrong - it is easy being green!