Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good Book.

The last few days have consisted of well-deserved rest. The weather has been sunny, warm and beckoning.     Today I worked in the garden then took a break to read a book while Meg discovered a colony of snails and decided to "farm" them. She asked me to pull my chair to the far side of the house (dubbed "the forest" because of it's semi-wild state compared to the rest of our backyard) to watch her play with her little pets. I did so, and read my book off and on between advising her on snail diet and habitat. It was a perfect afternoon.

My grandmother gave me this book to read the last time I visited her. Luckily, The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is the first in a series because I just finished it and I need more! My grandmother and I share many loves and passions, reading is just one. The book is about a woman who finds herself taken back in time (no wait--don't stop reading yet!) and dropped in the middle of the middle of Scotland in the 1700's. It's a story about survival, love, history, compassion, courage and moral responsibility. The going back in time bit is just a technical detail!

I've been attracted to historical and period literature lately, my last obsessive series began with The Other Boleyn Girl,  which became a (badly adapted) movie. I'm also attracted to love as a theme, although not the central theme. But I've noticed that for a book to really speak to me, there has to be a true love connection somewhere in the story. I wonder why that is? I get excited about the adventures of the characters, the dialogue, well-written pastoral descriptions, historical events. . . all of these are well and good but if I'm to really connect with a story, there has got to be love.

On the Traci scale this one gets an 8.5 stars out of 10 stars! I'm a tough grader I guess. I still recommend it! If you are looking for a good read, pick it up. And if you've seen The Other Boleyn Girl but decided not to read the book, let me change your mind. You simply must read it, it is completely more complex and even ends differently. There, two recommendations for you--go read!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I bought a romper. I want another one.

It has taken me two seasons to come around to trying one on and now I know why women are wearing them--it's comfy! Mine is a loose, light denim and a bit slouchy, I bought it mainly because it was on clearance and was cheap. I thought I could wear it around the house/garden or to play with children at the park and such, but I have found myself grabbing it several times to be comfy while running around town and I'm thinking, maybe I should spring for one that is a bit more grown-up, that can be dressed up with high heels and snazzy bag?  

I like this one. I can see myself out to dinner with Brian at Stella In Silverlake in this lovely number. What do you think? Should the romper remain safely in a teenager's closet or am I allowed to "go there"?

Monday, March 29, 2010

She's a real model!

Not that I've never seen a real model before (My dear friend, Jon, got me into a fashion show at Bryant Park several years ago and I ended up backstage--it's on my list of "Top Ten Days of My Life"), but I've never had the chance to specifically photograph one in this sort of setting--with a studio, lights. . . and an instructor who showed me in 30 seconds how to change the settings on my four-year-old camera to get amazingly better results, geez! And here is what I think is my best shot of the day:
Is this a safe place? Because, dear reader, I will confide that I was terribly nervous during this photo shoot! I cannot believe I got anything useful at all--I was sweaty and felt like I was shaking when shooting her. The focus of the class today was her eye, specifically the one closest to the camera (the left one). Surprised myself when I loaded them onto my computer; there were several that were very sharp and pretty. I like this one and I feel like it's a very good start. This particular shot was actually taken outdoors in natural light, but still using equipment I've never used before. I've been dying to get a chance to try my hand at some new lighting and techniques and am just so tickled by this, my first studio session! What fun!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baby sister's baby shower!

And this is the reason you've heard little from me in the past week--it's quite a great deal of work to throw a shower! This one was for my youngest sister (I have two, I'm the oldest of three), was hosted by my other sister and myself at my house yesterday. The weather couldn't be finer, and I think the details came out quite nice. I see a million things  we could have done differently, but then again--I really like the final product. I habitually don't do great photography when I am hostessing, and a few of these were taken on the "little" camera, so be kind!

Here is my backyard, just as the guests were beginning to arrive.

We chose a bird theme using little birds, branches, nests and eggs. This little guy came from Armstrong nursery for $1.99! Everyone wanted to know about the woodcuts. I grabbed them last Christmas at the nursery where we bought our Christmas tree. They made a fresh cut on each tree sold and I asked if I could have the woodcuts. I have also used them as candle coasters. 
The table runners were made from a tablecloth we bought at Target (the Dwell line). I cut and hemmed it into three strips for the three tables, then cut lengths of burlap for underneath.

Karen loves tulips and purple, so I was over-the-moon when I found purple tulips at Trader Joes! She loved them!
We made this wishing tree, taking inspiration from a shower we saw on another blog. Each guest was invited to write a wish for the mommy-to-be and hang it on the tree. I read the wishes between presents later and two of the wishes were secretly pre-marked and the authors won birdie salt and pepper shakers! 

My sister, Kristin, found these blank bird cards at Home Goods for next to nothing--we couldn't believe our luck! I printed them up on my home computer. 
Kristin also made the cupcakes including the birds!
I made the wreath and Kristin made a sweet bird cookie for each guest to take home. 

Later, I had Karen pose for lots of prego pics! This is a cute on with her hubby, John.
At the end of the day, we were all completely exhausted and poor Kristin ended up in bed with a fever  (the perils of having two small children!).  After all of our guests had gone home, my sisters, our husbands and children all sat on the porch and ate up all the yummy leftovers! I hope that Karen and all our guests had a lovely lunch on the patio! I'm admittedly glad to be done with this only because we have been planning this gathering for months and it was exciting to see our plans unfold and come to life! I'm also terribly excited to meet my new niece and see my baby sister in action as a mommy. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The room who wants to be yellow

This post is about my living room. It isn't much, so don't get excited.  May I please remind you all (all four of you!) that this is a rented house with taupe walls throughout and whitish pile carpet and a few leftover 80's oak details--three elements which I despise and can do nothing about. I tried very hard to not care at all about "decorating" since this is a temporary house for us. However. . . however.

So, coming from New York where we lived in a one-living-room house, we only owned one set of living room furniture. This second living room space remained empty and made a terrific dancing studio for four-year old princesses. Eventually, my sister and her husband gave us this set of sofas to fill the space and my sister-in-law lent us the coffee table since she isn't using it at this time. All of these things are brown, which might be okay if the walls were not taupe! Long story short, I decided to insert some artwork and in effect, some color! I love white and usually focus on it so white frames were a given, but what to put in them. . .
This is a beautiful book of artwork by Lulu de Kwait Kowski. I had considered traditional botanical prints for the wall, but thought the room needed a little more in the way of bright colors, so I used eight pages from this book.

This is what I came up with. Now can you see how the room wants to be yellow? 

Here it is with the brown sofas and table. I usually keep fresh flowers in a pretty white vase on this table, but I was cleaning when I snapped these.  I'm officially accepting helpful suggestions on what to do with that corner between the sofas--I hate hate that metal table and may need a new lamp as well. Should this be a floor lamp or a round table with table lamp??? I'm refusing to care too much about this rental, but I do need to be be here for another 18 months. 

I'm asking myself, why did I just do a post about the least pretty room in my house? Honestly, for all it's faults, it's a pretty nice house and we are quite happy here (it's the best kitchen I've ever had!) Why didn't I show you a good room? I think it's because of the Lulu prints, I just love them and am happy with the way they have begun to brighten the room. Let me go and snap a detail shot for ya!

There. This is my favorite of the eight selections. It was the first one I chose and it was the one that made the room want to be yellow. Of course, the room really wants to look like one of these yellow rooms in this post  by Tracy over at Comfort and Luxury. Sigh. 

Next time, I'll show you Meg's room. I promise there will be not a lick of brown in that post!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It doesn't get any fresher than this!

A few days ago, I found myself face to face with 6:00 pm and a hungry mob (it was just the two of them but they can sure make some noise when hungry). I sort of, uh, neglected dinner (oops) so I fished through the fridge for leftover anything and decided to make a salad and to finally use my latest lettuce crop. So it was fresh lettuce, leftover grilled chicken and veggies, some couscous, toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan reggiano cheese with a fresh lemon vinaigrette.


There is absolutely nothing like eating salad with lettuce that was picked 5 minutes before. I have to snicker at myself a bit because I just realized that I almost always take a snapshot of lettuce when I pick it from the garden, I just can't resist! Can I really be inspired by lettuce? Maybe not but I sure can appreciate it's goodness!

And I can certainly appreciate this aspect of life in California: fresh lettuce from my garden in March!

Monday, March 22, 2010


This is a very busy week at my house. Along with my sister, I am hosting a baby shower here on Saturday for my youngest sister, Karen.  Many preparations are being made around here, lots of decorations and such filling up my bare spaces. The "Big Clean" commenced today so my poor husband came home to displaced furniture and rugs, but a huge meal because I was famished from all that physical labor! My Meg played so sweetly outdoors and in her playroom while I busied myself around her, but she asked to watch The Sound of Music while I made dinner. The music was alluring, so instead of setting the diner table, I set the coffee table for our meal, to my daughter's astonishment and delight! 

This movie moves me every time! I had a lump in my throat as the Vonn Trapp family sang their farewell to Austria, knowing full well that they were minutes away from abandoning their home and life and country! 
This is just a picture I snapped of the television screen, but I was near tears and decided it must be blogged! Especially because of the trials we are facing this very day as Americans.

Our country is facing one of the biggest political changes in her short history. 
You may be pleased with this change. You may not. The change itself is going to be painful, since we don't all agree. As a parent I worry and wonder about my child's future, I worry about her very health!

But tonight at about this point in the movie, I thought about Austria and Russia and Iraq and all the places and times in history in which I am thankful to not be existing. 

It's still America and I still thank God that I have the profound privilege to live in such a country. Yes, we may have corruption and uncertainty, but we still have the fact that it's America, and there isn't another country on earth where I would want to raise my child.

Thank you, Lord that we are not Fraulein Maria and Captain Vonn Trapp, stealing through the night with the lives of our precious children hanging by a thread. 

And thank you Lord, for such an moving and delightful movie. 

P.S. I'm beginning classes at a new photography school tomorrow and I'm super excited! 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Meet John Murphy

So, I'm watching the Today Show (I am a faithful fan) with my cold cup of coffee (just holding it makes me feel like I deserve a few more minutes of couch time) and I catch a little feature by someone at Daily Candy. She talks about several silly silly things (socks for your chairs?) and then. . . this. These frames by John Murphy are beyond beautiful, and I am in love. I jot down the website and sigh when I see the home page (above), look at the colors in that shot! His photographs are stunning and the frames come in the most beautiful colors. Check out his website, it will make you smile! 
Here is a picture of the frame that made my eyes pop open:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do You Remember Miss Hannigan?

I certainly remember her, Annie was one of my favorite movies growing up. This week, I have had a well-known Miss Hannigan ditty running around in my head, as it has been the week of being a full-time super (although sometimes not-so-patient) mommy. I've been carting children to and fro and kissing boo-boos, "but why don't you want to go to school today, honey?" and attending this birthday party. I'm proud that I started this "just for me" blog apart from our family blog, but this week I sort of feel like my blog is laughing at me. Ha-Ha, Traci, you thought you'd be able to actually find 10 minutes a day to think about something inspirational too feed that inner artist you seem to think you have? This time around, the laugh's on you, dear blog--because I have loved this crazy week of little girls, little girls, little girls. . . Miss Hannigan, take it away:

Little Girls, Little Girls, everywhere I turn I can see them. . . 
Little Girls, Little Girls, night and day I eat, sleep and breath them. . .

Little Cheeks, Little teethe, everything around me is . . . little!

Some women are dripping with diamonds, some women are dripping with pearls. . .

Lucky Me!

Lucky Me!

Look what I'm drippin' with:

Little Girls!

These were taken at a 5 year old's ballerina birthday party that my daughter and niece attended this week. I made it a full 5 minutes before I had to run out to my car to grab the "big" camera (can any photographer resist a backyard swimming with tutus?). I'm so glad that I did, I captured some really special moments to give to the family and had a great time practicing my photography skills. As a mom, sometimes the hustle can take over my body, mind and soul, leaving nothing for me at the end of a day. And then I load up the pictures after everyone is asleep. Smiling in the dark at my computer screen, I realize that today, I did absolutely everything I wanted to do. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eddie. Eddie, Eddie. . .

is Eddie Ross. 

Today I went to an event hosted by Eddie at the Rose Bowl Swap Meet. He is known for his appearance on Bravo Top Design, work with Martha, Martha, Martha, for his chic interiors,  ability to find diamonds among the roughage at the swap meet/garage sale/thrift store/Home Goods, etc. and most recently won the Bloomingdales Big Window Challenge. Phew! I've been following him on his blog and have stolen a few of his great ideas for my own home, and today I joined him at the Rose Bowl (along with 30 or so other admirers) to seek out the goodies. He showed us how to spot a steal, or a treasure, and gave us fresh ideas on how to incorporate these finds into our homes.

Great light!  I tried to go back for this one but couldn't find it! I really loved it. I also really loved the pair of lamps, Eddie. But as soon as you said "Hollywood Regency" that other cute girl bought them right up. I will be faster next time. 

Here is Eddie (above) pointing out a pair of tables that had potential.  I went back and negotiated a deal to split the two and came home with:

Ta-Dum! Now I am committed to yet another furniture refinishing project! I think this will look great as my new bedside table. I love the shelf for books. My current itty-bitty round table is cute, but overflowing with books, mags, lamp and humidifier (I live in CA now--trying to save what's left of my skin), so this one might just do the trick. I am thinking some shade of grey and a mirrored top--just like Eddie said! Just love him. 


That's me with Eddie and Jaithan. 
I also bought some really lovely linen Euro shams and a duvet covet for Meg and a table cloth and napkins. I think I'm on a linen kick--ya think?

This was a really memorable day.  Thanks Eddie and Jaithan!. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Target is the new London

Okay, I'm excited.
We just came home from a family trip to Pizza, Armstrong Nursery and Target where I was delighted to see the Target employees unloading the new Liberty of London for Target merchandise! The line includes housewares and apparel (as far as I know). Liberty prints are super fun, vibrant, happy and a little bit vintage in vibe. I wasn't sure if I was really going to like the Target line . . . but I do!  Here are some of the housewares I love (check out the prices!!)

I just realized I only took photos of the sweet-heart colors, but believe me, they have some stronger, bolder prints as well--a beautiful peacock feather print that I wish I had captured! 
I saw bed-clothes, frames, pillows, ceramic and melamine kitchenware, paper goods and some other various accessories. Liberty prints are so easy to bring in for a dose of color and fun. I couldn't leave without taking home some of the loot, so I came home with this pillow:

and this little bin for holding my Snap-ware tops (it was $6.99!):

Because everyone should should have a decorator bin in the cupboard holding the Snap-ware tops, right? (at that price why not!?)

P.S. The apparel had not yet been released, but yes, I am wanting some of that, too. 
P.P.S.  Sunday update: the apparel is really good! Get it while you can!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sweetest Thing

One of the sweetest things in my house are these two pieces which hang in my daughter's room. Her room is blue and really beautiful, and many of the ideas for it came from Lisa, my dear friend whom I miss so much (she lives in NY). She has an amazing eye and darling ideas for children's spaces. Lisa took me to the D&D building in NYC where we spent a day pouring over textiles and wallpapers. I came home with these samples, but decided to paint instead. Lisa suggested framing the wallpaper and hanging some of Meg's vintage artwork in inside the frame, without the glass, like this:

This bird wallpaper is just too beautiful to cover with a picture, so we just let it be a work of art in and of itself. How I would love to do an entire room in this design! 

I just love these. These two pieces speak to me of our home and of our daughter's precious personality since she loves them and loves her room. We have been a family "in transition" for the last year, and still haven't settled down. The house we are in now is rented because we just don't know what is next for us. Last summer when we moved from New York to California, I made sure that my Meg's room was the first thing we accomplished. We painted it and set it up for her so she would feel peaceful and familiar in her new space. Looking back now,  I have to laugh a little because I realize that she was happy to be anywhere as long as she was with us. It was I who felt so much better when her room looked familiar again. In fact I spent hours in her room sorting and reading in those first few weeks.

I think these are so special to me because 1)they are really pretty 2) they were made and dreamed up for Meg's first "big girl" room in our home in New York and 3) they were a labor of love between friends. I miss Lisa when I look around the room. 

I don't remember what company makes either if these wallpapers, but maybe Lisa will comment and remind me! Be sure to read her blog, Hampton Toes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Mission

Having moved from New York to California this past summer, I've been hungry for the sorts of places that connect me with the past--real stone walls and formal gardens planted centuries ago.

Today, I visited the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. It was established in 1776 and was one of the first missions in California (if not the first, I really wasn't paying attention to that part). Some of it was destroyed in the earthquake of 1812, but it still ministered to thousands of men and women who came to find their way in California. It still functions as an active church to this day and is one of the top 4th grade field trip destinations in Southern California!

The mission is beyond gorgeous. It has been meticulously maintained, is the place where hundreds of swallows return each spring to have their babies and best of all: it is old and meaningful. When you stand in the courtyard you are standing on the very earth where so much history happened. This place has a heartbeat, a pulse. I will be returning.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Ream of Paper

What do you do with reams of paper? Buy one at Staples once a year, print recipes and directions, give it to children with a box of markers? Maybe you enjoy the occasional origami crane or bullfrog? Well, this store in Pasadena has created a work of art.  
One ream = 500 sheets of white 8.5 x 11 regular weight copy paper. It costs about $4.99.
This is actually so much more stunning in person. Did you ever know 500 sheets of paper could be so beautiful? What do I have laying around the house that could possibly be shaped into stunning works of art?

I love the inherent principle behind this installation: art doesn't need to come from exotic or expensive materials. Art flows from the heart of the artist. . . and whatever she can find laying around.