4.16.2014

Uptown Park's Lifestyle Blogger Series: Spring Edition

I received an email back in February from Maddie with Uptown Park's marketing team asking me if I'd be interested in selecting favorites from Uptown Park as part of their Blogger Series.  Ummmmm... I didn't have to think twice!  Finding the best and sharing it with you is what this blog is all about!  So I was thrilled to say the least!  I found so many great things about Houston's Uptown Park it was hard to narrow them down!  This image is just a snip-it of what I found:



For more of what I found, check out the full post on the Uptown Park Blog.  For example, have you heard of the Big O' Key Ring?  I want it for Mother's Day along with everything else in the
post!

This was such a fun experience with Maddie and the photographer Kennon Evett, I hope more opportunities like this come along!

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4.14.2014

The MVP of Baby Gifts


Saturday night I was heading to a special baby shower and I posted a picture of my gift bag on Facebook and Instagram.  I said the MVP of baby gifts was inside the bag and to check out the blog on Monday to see what's inside.  Well, here is what I believe to be the Mother of all necessary baby gear:


It's the Marpac Dohm Sound Conditioner, a.k.a. The SleepMate.  This sound conditioner is better than the rest because the Dohm's sound is real, made by a fan inside.  So there's no electronic loop of sounds I always end up putting words to, torture!  The Dohm is also loud and soothing.  The reason this is the MVP of all baby gifts is because the instant we started using this I saw a huge improvement in our baby girl's sleep.  We had it rough when it came to sleep and the Dohm was the sound machine that kept her asleep and could mask all the other noises that had been waking her throughout the day and night.


There is a single speed version and a dual speed version of the Dohm.  I set ours (we have 3) as loud as they will go so we only need the single speed (it costs less), no need for a quiet model!  If you're in need of this miracle worker, I just checked Drugstore.com and their price is better than Amazon Prime, tell it to your neighbor!  The Dohm Single Speed from Drugstore.com is $44.95, free shipping and no tax.


The other item in the bag was not around when I had infants in car carriers.  It's the My Baby SoundSpa On-The-Go, genius!  A clip on sound machine!  Why didn't I think of this?!


Lastly, we were asked to bring a book for the baby girl.  You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan is still a favorite, so sweet!

Here are clickable thumbnails to the items in this post:



4.09.2014

10 Steps to Easy (and Fun!) Bookcase Styling


Bookcases are so intimidating!  They are time consuming and their "possibilities are endless", which usually leads to me standing in front of them, frozen.  But after a month of my decluttering, I've become so motivated to attack these things.  I'd been wanting to update my stagnate bookshelves for a while, they'd been the same for almost 6 years!  Most of all, it was about time to take down the Christmas stocking hangers:


If an interior designer looks at bookcases in fear, how do people who don't enjoy design look at them?  Not good!  Setting up a home should be fun!  So I set forth on my bookcases determined to have fun, taking notes of the things that helped me so I could share them with you.  Here are my Ten Steps for Styling Bookshelves:

1.  Motivate yourself.  Turn off the voices in your head.  This is not your Mom's, Mother-in-law's, sister's or friend's bookcase, it's only yours.  We are all different and we all have our own style (thank goodness!), so even if you tried, it would be impossible to please everyone.  The only person who needs to like the result is you.  YOU can do it!

"It's much more fun to be you!" - Iris Apfel (image via Advanced Style)
2.  Quick inspiration search.  On Pinterest or Google images, search "Bookcases" or "Bookshelves" or check out my Pin Board dedicated to them.  Scroll through and jot down ideas you like, big and small.  For example, I like mostly books in bookcases, I saw a rainbow arrangement of books I thought was inspiring and fun, I like 3-D, I like layering and hanging or leaning objects in the back of the bookcase.  I saw someone use their silhouettes on the shelves:


3.  Start with a clean slate.  Clear out your shelves and start fresh.  Remove everything and wipe it all down, maybe even get out the Magic Eraser.  Remove book covers, not all of them, just take a look at what's under the cover and if you like it better, show it!  If a cover is torn, faded or yellow, remove it!  This is the kind of tip that makes you feel great:


4.  Categorize your books.  This is a cathartic process, it helps you get to know your books and an idea might strike while you do this.  Organize however you want, maybe by subject, size, author,  type or Dewey Decimal, ha!  Have fun with this, maybe you can come up with something witty.  Then set aside some of your favorite books that you'd like to highlight or that have a funny story.  I like keeping a collection together, but that's not a rule!  I wanted to do the rainbow thing so I started with the R in ROYGBIV:


5.  Say goodbye.  I had a huge stack of Architectural Digest because I thought designers were "supposed" to keep them, but I realized I'm not an AD girl.  I'm a Domino girl!  Goodbye AD, even if you were a good filler!  I also had a few books I didn't agree with or gave me icky feelings, goodbye!

6.  Shop your house.  Bookcases are usually centrally located, a focal point, so if you have any objects of great sentiment, this is the spot for them.  These are objects that make you smile when you see them.  I have a clock I gave my Mom when I was in college, I don't know if she liked it, but I had my eye on it for a semester and worked hard to save up for it, good memories.  I paired it with all my books that have a metallic golden sheen:


7.  Rows vs. Stacks, fill er up.  I've seen bookshelves with only rows of books and I've seen bookshelves with mostly stacks of books, both are great.  I couldn't decide so I did both.  If this step stresses you out, fall back on symmetry, it always looks good and with the guidelines of matching across the center, there are less subjective decisions to be made.  Also, pretend like you're a kid and play with pattern here.  Do you have a lot of white books and black books?  How about a few stacks of alternating B&W or a whole row of black and a whole row of white?  Maybe a row of black and yellow, striped like a honey bee, my point is, have fun!  I had so many white books, I had to break it up by placing them at the ends of rows:


8.  Elevate.  Place your special objects on top of a book or a stack of books.  This adds height and says, "I'm special, look over here!"  For example, I put a small framed pic of my babies on top of a few conversation starting books.  First, my original Domino mags, then two of the same Jr. High School Yearbooks (my husband and I went to the same Jr. High at the same time and we didn't know each other, he was in 6th grade and I was in 8th, ha!) and my current favorite book, Where'd You Go, Bernadette! by Maria Semple.  If that doesn't break the ice, my table topics used as a book end could do the trick:


9.  Layer.  From the back of the bookcase to out in front, layer and overlap to make it different and brave.  I found a Frank Lloyd Wright Art glass panel my Dad gave me and leaned it against the back of the bookcase behind a stack of books, this could also be done with a pretty book.  I also taped a plate and a page of photo booth pics to the back of the bookcase.  To hang my Mom's art on the front of the shelves, I used Command Picture Hanging Strips:


Don't be afraid to completely cover up some of your books like I did with this globe:


10.  Update your photos.  Take this chance update some of your photo frames with pictures from this year.  If the job is too big to even think about getting started, then put a few frames away in the cabinet.  I like for every photo to be visible and not so overlapped that you can't see it.  But if you think the more photos the merrier, then go for it if it makes you happy!  It made me happy to put out the picture of me and my friends at the Rodeo with Enrique Iglesias:


I hope you're motivated, realize that this can be fun and feel armed with tools!  If you want the project to move quickly, turn off the TV and turn on the music!  Unless you're like me and just need peace and quiet to finish, then wait till the world is asleep.  It took me about a day and a half to do the whole job.


Before you go, if this is you're first time to style a bookcase, here are 3 more quick tips:

1.  If you have a counter top in your built-in, place a big bowl there, like the one I have in the above pic.  Your guests will automatically feel like they have a spot to place their belongings.  Trust me, they won't even ask and they'll set their bag there!

2.  Align the spine of your books with the front of the shelf instead of pushing the books to the back.   This just looks clean:


3.  If you're in need of books, stop by Half Price Books and stock up or gift yourself an awesome Juniper Collection.  They're on sale at One Kings Lane for 4 days!  Here are a few of my favorites, plus a couple accessories to add to the shelves:

Good luck, go for it, you can do it!

4.02.2014

Easy Easter Bunny Wreath


This wreath is for the DIY shy.  (DIY shy \ˌdē-(ˌ)ī-ˈwī-ˈshī\ adj. someone who wants to make things but every time they try, they feel it goes awry.)  It's an Easter Bunny Wreath and it is the easiest craft I've ever created.  I was going for a simplified bunny design.  Best part is, simple also equals quick, tell it to your neighbor!  Here are the supplies you'll need:


Pictured:
  • 18" Straw Wreath Form (pre-covered in cellophane)
  • White Feather Boa
  • 1 1/2" Satin Ribbon (Platinum) I used about 14 yards (one big roll and one small roll).
Not Pictured:
  • 1" Silver Flat Head Pins
  • Twist Tie
  • Permanent Double Sided Tape

BUNNY BODY
To start, do NOT remove the cellophane from the wreath, this keeps it smooth.  Find a starting point on the backside of your wreath and double pin the ribbon to the wreath.  Wrap the entire wreath at a slight angle, overlapping all the way around.  Make your overlap bigger on the inside and smaller on the outside.  To secure the ribbon insert a pin through the ribbon on the back every 3 inches as you make your way around.


BUNNY TAIL
Hold the end of the feather boa with your thumb and wrap the whole length of boa around your fingers, pretend like you're wrapping a strand of Christmas lights.  Then pinch the part of the boa that's in the palm of your hand and wrap it tight with a twist tie.  Like so:


Then cover the twist tie with extra ribbon, you'll use this to attach the tail to the body.  I wrapped the ribbon around and secured it with permanent double sided tape.  Like so:


ATTACH THE TAIL
On the front of the wreath, at the bottom of the circle, attach the bunny tail with pins.  I put two pins at the top of the ribbon loop and 2 pins at the bottom of the ribbon loop.


The tail will look like this after attaching it to the body, fluffy and pretty:



HANG YOUR WREATH
I am now using a clear door hanger (not pictured) because after I finished these photos the wreath fell!  Ha!  This little thing failed many times:


HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL!


I also hung it on our ivy wall, it seemed more fitting for the Easter Bunny.  But I wish I didn't have to worry about rain and could keep it there.  It sure made for pretty photos!



My kids love the wreath!  They came home from school jumping up and down over the "Easter Bunny Wreath" and that was before I could even show it to them.  So I think the design is a simplified symbol success!


If you make this, please share it with me on Instagram or Facebook!  I'd love to see your work!

3.27.2014

Round Top Round Up Plus...


Last weekend we went to Round Top and stayed at The Prairie again, in The Manor House.  We had a great trip!  For the first time I was looking for something to refurbish or turn into art and maybe sell.  After my decluttering success this past January, I'm trying not to add to my house right now.  However, I did buy a couple things for my home and I'd like to show-and-tell. :)  I also found some great things that someone like you should go get before they're gone!


First up are pics of my purchases.  I found a vintage folding beach chair in pretty good shape at Blue Hills.  The fabric needs to be replaced and it needs a little refinishing, perfect for my first fixer upper!  The woman selling wanted $65 but I got her to $60 and she wasn't very happy about it!  Then this week I was surprised, OKL is having a Janus et Cie sale and there's a folding beach chair for $700!  Can't wait to make mine look awesome:




Next, I've been wanting a naturally light colored cowhide, not sure where I'm putting it, but we started looking and I found the perfect hide and couldn't pass it up.  I found it at the Old Depot, close to the Mercantile, from 5J Cowhides.  It was nice doing business with Johnny!  Then another surprise on OKL, a hide just like mine for more than two times the price!  Here's the beauty:




I was looking for small antlers for an upcoming craft workshop and to possibly paint as art.  I didn't want to spend a lot for this experiment so I found this set for $16 in Warrenton:


Lastly, just before we headed home, the brass propeller of this lamp base caught my eye.  Then the seller said the top part is a firehose nozzle!  So cool!  They said they'd sell it to me for $100 and I didn't have to think twice, sold!  Now I'm looking for a shade to put on this Found Objects lamp sculpture:


Now for the furnishings that someone ought to run to Round Top for right away!  We were watching the Lone Ranger, Jeffree [(954) 647-1459], unload and found the most beautiful Swedish clock I've ever seen.  He said to me "Why don't you pick out something cheaper?!" because this clock is over $5,000.  It's the original paint and the pic doesn't show the beauty, I wish you could see the glimmer of gold paint on the accents:


He's selling the pretty demilune (below) as a set and I can't stop thinking about them!  Perfect for today's transitional home:


Then he shared with us his new reproduction line called Infinity Collection made in Sweden, tell it to your neighbor!!  I would design a room around a hutch like this:


Next at Blue Hills, French Bleu had a beautiful chandelier I tried to get my sister to buy, but she decided it was too big.  If you've got tall ceilings, this chandelier was so pretty in person:


Do you remember my coffee cart?  I thought it was original but I think I was wrong because now the dealer (near the southwest entrance of Blue Hills) is selling reproductions of it.  But that is great news, anyone can buy it!  This cart is so functional and versatile, style it anyway you like:


My favorite artist/furniture maker Ken at EXCESS made this fountain out of a sugar kettle and tractor parts.  Absolutely awesome:


He was also selling fun accessories made of crow decoys.  For Halloween, I'd love to put a ton of these together on display in a restaurant or storefront:


Also at EXCESS were these giant white letters.  Love what they spell:


In addition to the shopping, we had a lot of fun and ate unbelievable food at The Legal Tender Saloon, Royer's and The Prairie.  Here's a short video I posted on Instagram of our fun:

And now to the "Plus" part in the title of this post.  Horchow is having a 24 hour 30% off WHOLE SITE sale, tell it to your neighbor!  This includes furniture and lighting!  Sale ends at 8 am cst, tomorrow, March 28th.  Love this console table:


Use this as a chance to get those high ticket items, here are a few more of my favorites from Horchow:

3.25.2014

First-Ever Kite Festival


I have plans this weekend, the kind of plans you're going to want to tell your neighbor about and then invite them to come along with you!  This Saturday, March 29th is the first-ever Hermann Park Kite Festival and it's free admission, tell it to your neighbor!


Houston's Hermann Park is turning 100 this year and the Herman Park Conservancy is celebrating all year long!    My friend Morgan Garvey is on the Advisory Board of the Conservancy and she's been sharing with me all about the two Centennial celebrations she knew I'd love, Art in the Park and the Kite Festival.  She and Paul-David van Atta are also chairs of the Kite Festival event!


Beginning this Saturday morning at 10 am until 5 pm we can experience the grounds of our Hermann Park transformed into a festival with food trucks, performers, kite contests, kite making, music, games and creative projects for kids!  And the air will be filled with kites of all shapes, colors and sizes!!  Billy Ray posted a picture of his Yellow Guitar Kite on the festival's Facebook event page, saying "looking forward to the fly!"  Well me too, Billy Ray, I can't wait to see it!  I'm praying for wind because the S.H.A.R.K.s will be there showing off their stunt flying skills!  Here's a link to the schedule of the day and here's a map:

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Parking will be limited so consider riding your bike if you live near or taking METRORail.  There is a Park-n-Ride on the rail near Fannin and 610 South.  I've taken it to the Houston Rodeo a couple times and it was easy breezy.

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Over Spring Break we started exploring some of the centennial celebration's Art in the Park like Patrick Dougherty's Boogie Woogie sculpture made out of saplings.  My kids LOVED it!  So they'll be excited to go back to Hermann Park to see more.  And I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday with my family than outside at a park, looking at art and flying kites!  Happy 100 Hermann Park, thank you for offering a celebration like the Kite Festival to us Houstonians, can't wait!