Friday, 31 May 2013

In the woods

Day 31 of Blog Every Day in May. The last day. 

First of all, can I just congratulate those of you who actually blogged every single day with me? It was quite the feat. If I hadn’t been the originator of this little challenge, I’m not sure I would have actually stuck with it, myself. I never really had time to pre-blog anything, so I found myself writing a post almost every single day… and as many of you know, the topics were often sort of “deep” or at least required a fair bit of thought. The nature of this challenge was, well, challenging, and that explains the fact that 856 bloggers linked up the first day, and we were averaging 100 to 200 or so in the last week. BUT.  The fact that even that many were still with me here at the end made my heart smile, cheesy as that may sound. And those of you who only participated occasionally… good for you, too. I was so glad to see people of all sorts having fun and being creative with this month’s topics.   Many of you even expressed interest in doing it again in the future. I’d love to, as well, and will consider it maybe for September or October, though I’ll definitely be modifying the Challenge to give us weekends off, mmkay?! ;)

And now, as for today’s topic: a vivid memory.

print for sale here

My memories don’t actually become all that vivid until after I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, when my parents finally realized I was blind as a bat and got me some glasses. Then a whole new world opened up to me, and I started to... well... see stuff. Today's memory certainly doesn't have to be from childhood, but I think mine will be.

Some of my favorite and most vivid memories involve exploring out in the woods behind our military apartment complex when my family lived in Germany. My sister and I spent hours out in that forest, and oh, the adventures we would have! I specifically remember walking out on the train tracks that wrapped around one side of the woods, picking warm blackberries right off the bushes beside the tracks and heading over to our little Wonder Land and what we called the "jumping things," which were essentially just huge slabs of concrete piled high on top of each other in long rows, and my sister and I would climb them and run and jump from one pile to the next... hence, the title "jumping things." I'm fairly certain we weren't supposed to be in that area of the Army base, and maybe that's one reason why it was fun... since it was a little bit dangerous. I also remember picking lily of the valley in the same woods, and how fragrant they were, and finding what appeared to be old bomb craters and being convinced that a certain section of the woods that turned to all pine trees was, indubitably, haunted. I hope some day that my children will love the outdoors and have the same opportunities to imagine that I did. Like I said, my most vivid memories are from that enchanted forest just steps from our back door... :) 

Share your memories below, and give yourself a big fat pat on the back for making it to the end of a very long May. Now take the weekend off, yeah?!

Final Words of Wisdom

This post and series is brought to you by one of my favorite places to shop for Kids, Land of Nod
Don't forget to enter my giveaway on instagram if you want to win a chance to have a kids room designed by me! I'll be picking the winner tonight! 

I hope that you have all enjoyed this series as much as I have. I feel like I've been sitting down over lunch and having a conversation with my closest friends about parenting, design and much more. I love getting a peak into the minds and homes of other mothers and bloggers and designers. We all have so much to learn from each other. I asked my panel of experts to give us their final words of wisdom on good design with kids in mind. 

Don't give up your style because you have kids.  Having kids should enhance your style.  It's a time when you can let your imagination run wild and insert creativity into your design.  My favorite homes are ones that have grown up taste with fun elements incorporated. So make your home fun and stylish.  But most of all make your house yours and let your home be lived in.  That is what makes a house a home, after all.

- Trina, La La Lovely

I have always had a place in my heart for a pretty home and have had a long time love affair with design, however, I have a deeper love for kids and family.  It is important to me to integrate the two, and I try to do that by keeping our home family friendly and not take the decor too seriously.  By selecting the right fabrics, finishes, colors and playful accessories, we have been able to live in a place that keeps us grinning cheek to cheek, in more ways than one.  I try to select accessories that are brilliant yet won't break, bold patterns and colors that hide finger prints and durable textiles that clean up with ease.  And heck, there are a bajillion and one ways to remove stains and sharpie pens from furniture, just ask Google.

I have lived by the philosophy that you don't have to keep all of your "nice" things out of sight, up high, or hidden for fear of the little ones getting into them.  Maybe I'm lucky, but early on, I taught my son "don't touch" or "mama's only" and he's pretty much obeyed ever since.  For instance, my cookbook collection in the kitchen island.  He steers clear of them even though they are really at his height.And as much as I like a super-tidy, organized, and beautiful home, there's something really endearing and sweet about finding random toys in the laundry, tiny fingerprints on the glass doors and mirrors, and seeing tiny socks laying around.  I'm so thankful to share a home with my son! :) 

My main piece of advice would be to go forward and get to work on your space. There is no reason why you can't have a finished home. Kids should learn to appreciate the beauty of things and learn boundaries. Spills and breaks may happen, but at the end of the day they are just things and your kids will learn a lesson from what happened. I don't know about you, but I want my child to have memories of the home he grew up and remember his orange ceiling, my elephant collection, or a hand me down trinket from his grandparents,etc. I don't want him to have memories of an empty space that was never truly homey. 

- Camila Pavone, Effortless Style 

My last bit of advice is to make your house livable for everyone.  You dont' have to sacrifice nice things to make it beautiful. DIY and upcycled projects are a great way to get the look you want without having to drop a ton to get it. Then if something gets ruined it's not the end of the world! 

Keep as little “stuff” in your house as possible.  Things tend to take over and start to rule the roost so try to only keep what you absolutely need or love.  There are so many baby & kid gadgets out there but so much of it is unnecessary (& ugly!!) so keep it out if possible.  Make your house as easy to live in as you possibly can.  Don’t fight how you live in your home.  Figure out how & you and your family live and make your house work for you.  (For example, if your kids always bring their crayons into the kitchen & leave them on the counter- LIKE MINE DO!!- make a spot in the kitchen for the crayons & paper so they can clean up on their own.) Get the kids involved in taking care of the house; it makes your life SOOOO much easier & makes them more responsible.  My boys love to help me pick flowers to put around the house and they’re great with the dustbuster!!  Someone (a very funny someone) said that when you first have a baby you should tell them sweetly how much you love them and then say “Welcome to my world.” As funny as it is, I do think it holds some truth.  It’s sort of the philosophy we’ve taken with regards to our house.  “Boys, we love you, but we make the rules here.”  We’ve tried to figure out what makes us all happy and created a home around that.
- Lauren  Liess, Pure Style Home


Find the right balance for your family. I don’t think you should let your kid’s stuff take over the house but I also don’t think you should try to erase all signs that they live there either. After all, it’s their house too! A home with young children has an energy all its own and with thoughtful planning and careful editing I think you create a beautiful, functional and safe environment for all to enjoy. Take the opportunity to play with colors and see things a little differently. Yes, your all glass coffee table might have to go into storage for a while, but rather than bemoan its loss, have fun with this season of your life.

- Dina, Honey & Fitz

I know it has become a fad to say it but you truly do have to embrace IMPERFECTION. Don't be afraid to throw things away.  Decluttering often and ruthlessly is imperative, especially in a small home. Simple simple.  Buy wooden toys that look cute laying on your floor.  Choose things you both like so you don't mind seeing them out.  Teach respect for things and people but just remember kids are kids and nothing is worth wounding their little hearts. The glass lamps I mentioned in the last time I did this series... I said we moved it the bedroom so the kids wouldn't break it.  My husband broke it in the bedroom. So we all make mistakes and have accidents.. Luckily it was just a Target lamp.  

- Holly Mathis, Holly Mathis Interiors

Thank you so much to all the woman who made this series a success! 

And stay tuned next week for my Land of Nod Playroom reveal and a giveaway! 

It's going to be good!! 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

an obsession with sciolari

This all began with a light I missed at auction.  It was a huge opaque white and amber ice glass chandelier, ugly but good ugly and I had never seen anything like it before.  I googled "ice glass chandelier" and before I knew it I was smitten with mid century modern chandeliers.  

I missed the light, I bid a top of $500 and looking back I could have paid triple and still had a bargain, it went for $550.  (Muffled screams of frustration).  I didn't win the auction but I certainly caught the bug: Kalmar the king of ice glass chandeliers; and Sciolari's timeless classics.

I can't understand why these have not been brought back into production.  I would happily buy a replica.  The pieces are sculptural, much more interesting than the majority of modern and expensive offerings out there.
Unfortunately I am not alone in my obsession and these lovely pieces are expensive to buy, probably around $3,500 upwards for a good one.  When you think how sculptural they are, and how unique, that is not as extravagant as it sounds.  A a good painting will cost you at least that.

Gaetano Sciolari designed these amazing modernist masterpieces from the 50's to the 70's, working with large lighting firms like Stilnovo (Milan) and Lightolier (New York) before starting to manufacture his own line.

So here I am trawling the web for a forgotten bargain, like the one I missed out on.  Do you have a treasure you hunt for?  Oh well, happy hunting...  

Letting Go

this picture has nothing to do with this post, but isn't my little brother cute? :)

On my way home from my quick Florida trip today. Loved spending time with my sweet little bro, but I can't wait to bury my face in fur the minute I get home. I miss my babies! Today's topic for Blog Every Day In May is Letting Go. I didn't give much direction on this one - it's just sort of an open-ended thing. So here I go. My response to this very broad term... letting go.

Fear, anger, envy, bitterness, preconceived notions, bias, self-doubt... those are just a few things I thought of that would be best to just let go of, obviously, but I tried to think a little harder about what I, personally, need to let go of in my life. I don't harbor a lot of negative feelings, I'm glad to say, though I must admit to holding onto fear and anger over the losses of Edd and my grandmother in the past little-over-a-year. They've been hard for me to grasp, handle, and come to peace with. And I don't really have anything too profound to say today. But I guess I'd just like to report that I am, in some ways, starting to come to terms with my own doubts and questions and, yes, I'm even coming to answers and peace with it all. Those of you who follow on Instagram may have noticed a photo of a book I picked up at the airport this week, Proof of Heaven, and I must say, I gobbled it up in a day and felt like my eyes had suddenly been opened to truths I never imagined. I'm hoping to write a little more about this book later, but for now I'll just say that I highly recommend it to anyone struggling with what they believe about an afterlife or even God. SUCH a good book. 

And that's about all I have to say, for now. I'm working on letting go of what I should let go. And I guess that's about the best any of us can do.

Happy Thursday! Only ONE more day in May! :)

Good Design With Kids in Mind and Chelsea Horsley

This post and series is brought to you by one of my favorite places to shop for Kids, Land of Nod

I hope you are all enjoying the last few days of the good design with kids in mind series. Don't forget to enter my giveaway on instagram

You have a great chance to win an e-design done by me for one of your kid's spaces. It can be a kids playroom, corner in your living room, kids room, nursery etc! Just post a picture of the space you need help with and check in Friday night for the winner! Find more details over at my Instagram...

And now back to the series...

Throughout this series I wanted to take some sneak peaks into blogger's real homes and get a feel for the solutions that work for them.  Chelsea from Yours Truly is giving us tips and ideas on the solutions that work best for her. Chelsea has excellent taste and is proof that your home can have good design while keeping kids in mind! 

I'm so happy Kirsten asked me to be a part of this series! I have loved decorating my own home & the homes of clients, but making a space for kids is my absolute favorite. It's a place to let go, less rules, and more fun. Having three kids under six myself means my home needs to be kid friendly, like so many of you. I whole heartedly believe your home can be beautiful, stylish, and a place for your kids to be kids. It just takes a little more creativity (and being okay with an occasional broken item:) You can tell right when you walk in my home that I have kids, and I like it that way. Hopefully it's not because you're having to step over a toy, but because there is a playfulness and contrast to the design. Below is a chalkboard wall I painted in the kitchen. It's great entertainment for us all! It's the second home we've had with a chalkboard wall in, and I can't imagine not having one now, it's so practical and fun.

We keep the bigger bulkier toys in our kids rooms and closets since we don't have a play room. Sure things tend to make their way out throughout the day, and sure I have blocks and doll heads laying around in my kitchen, and that's okay. For me, the best way to rein in the small stuff is with baskets. Baskets, baskets and more baskets. I have catch-all baskets in almost every room of the house. A cool tribal one works great in our family room. An industrial wire basket fits well in our kitchen. The baskets in our console table, while look just decorative, are filled with toys, as are the bottom drawers of both our family room & dining room armoire's. It makes for an easy and quick 10 minute pickup when I know someone's coming over, and at the end of the day. Because the baskets are meant for anything small, my kids can even help me pick up since they don't need to know what goes where. I feel like you can put a basket anywhere too. I like them especially next to a fireplace, to help anchor a side chair, or paired up under a console table.

Books are another thing I love decorating with, and they make so much sense with kids. Most young kids know books only by their covers, so facing them out makes finding their favorites easy. You can find stacks of books all over my house. In my daughter Tate's room we hung the Ikea book ledge to create a cozy reading nook. It was cool how much more she read when her books were out on display like this. I wasn't expecting that. I also layer them on her windowsill, stack them in her desk cubby, and on a small chair. It's such an easy, charming way to bring color and playfulness to kids spaces while using something functional.

I think it's important to create spaces for your kids in areas other than their rooms. It is their home too. I spend so much of my day in the kitchen, so it was only natural that the chalkboard wall, as well as their play table + chairs live there. It's turned into a little snack/craft area and it's the happiest corner in our home. I always feel like a lucky mama when I see this nook, and I know my daughter feels proud seeing her artwork displayed for everyone to see. 

Art is something I hear from clients that they struggle with. I am drawn to art that means something, which is tricky since you also want it to mean something to your kids, but with out having giant puppies, or peace signs on the wall (what my kids are currently into:). For my twins nursery, since we didn't know them yet, I chose pieces that meant something to our family. A set of finger painted portraits by Tate for them, a favorite quote of mine that reminds me how strong the twins are despite their early struggle, and a print of multiple tiny homes that gives nod to our many travels and places we've called home over the years. They all coordinate yes, but more importantly they were chosen with thought and over time. It made their room feel personal even though they were too little to have any say in it.

Both my twins and daughters bedroom have lots of white. I get asked how I keep it clean all the time. Which is funny, because I feel like it's actually been pretty easy. While I don't let my kids eat in their rooms, there is always the inevitable stain. Luckily, minus the rugs, everything is removable and machine washable. My twins are two now, and the rug has stayed fairly clean. If you can find rugs that are reversible get them! They are a lifesaver when you need a fresh start. I've flipped the boys rug once, and I assume by the time they're 3 or 4 I'll need to get the rug professionally cleaned. I love having white too, because I know if something serious did get on it I can always use bleach. I honestly haven't felt the white has been much of an issue though.

Thanks so much for having me Kirsten!

Teeppes are all the rage right now for kid's spaces. I know my son is obsessed with tents and this "A Teepee to Call Your Own Teepee" from Land of Nod would make him jump up and down with excitement. Every kid needs their own space to read, play and dream and this teepee is fit for all of that! Not only is it cute but it's also sturdy and well made. This teepee is sure to be a hit for years and years to come.  

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Soundtrack of my life

Only three more days in May... I think after this Challenge I might not blog the rest of the summer... ;)

Today's topic is five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories. This was a really interesting exercise and one that I truly enjoyed. Music speaks to me like nothing else, and really does define certain periods of my life. I found myself reliving so many different parts of my life... opening old wounds, feeling old pains and pleasures, if you will. I can close my eyes, turn on any one of these songs, and be instantly transported to a place in my past...

* * * * *

You Look So Fine by Garbage. I used to be obsessed with this song all through high school. I still really like it to this day.

Angel by 
Dave Matthews Band. And everything else by DMB, too. Almost nothing more effectively takes me right back than good ol' Dave. 

Endlessly by Muse. This song reminds me vividly of a certain infatuation with a past love...

Cheers, Darlin' by Damien Rice... and this song reminds me of the death of that same relationship...

Say When by The Fray. This The Fray's CD had just come out when I met Matthew, and I was listening to this song on repeat while I fell in love with him. Brings me right back there...

And I know I said only five... but here's a few bonus tracks - songs I'm currently obsessed with and know will come to define this current time in my life... :)

Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey. 

Light Outside by Wakey!Wakey!

What list of my most defining music would be complete without Fun.? I've listened to their stuff to death, but here's some more, anyway.

Good Design with Kids in Mind & the Girls of Small Fry Blog

This post and series is brought to you by one of my favorite places to shop for Kids, Land of Nod

I hope you are all enjoying the last few days of the good design with kids in mind series. Don't forget to enter my giveaway on instagram

You have a great chance to win an e-design done by me for one of your kid's spaces. It can be a kids playroom, corner in your living room, kids room, nursery etc! Just post a picture of the space you need help with and check in Friday night for the winner! Find more details over at my Instagram...

And now back to the series...

Today we are getting a small glimpse into how the girls of Small Fry live with their adorable kids. Kids are top priority to this trio but they also all have great taste so they are constantly trying to maintain organized and beautiful homes. Here are some tips on each of them are able to create good design with kids in mind. 

Emily's boys are 16 months apart and that first year was tough! Raising two babies  while running Small Fry, Bijou Market and styling on the side left her house in shambles. She quickly switched her Saturday clean-fest to daily zone cleaning when she realized that while her house was tidy, it wasn't really clean. For her to really get a deeply cleaned home, she split her house's rooms into days. Monday is the kitchen, Tuesday the bathrooms and so on. Sure, her house is never ALL clean at the same time, but it gives her peace of mind that each room is getting the proper attention. 

She also noticed that she found her self picking up the same toys, books, socks multiple times a day. Rather than go insane, she puts the clutter out of her mind until the end of the day. Using a giant woven bag she whisks through the house picking up everything that is out of place and puts it away once. 

Jenna is a long time graphic designer and being a working mom left her feeling constantly guilty at the state of her house. On top of the guilt, she noticed a huge difference in the peace and happiness of her home and its inhabitants when it was clean. Rather than toil over the house, but never really getting to the level of clean she wanted, she found an inexpensive cleaning service. For $50 every two weeks her house is clean, she has more time to spend with her kids, less guilt, and a more peaceful home. She says she'd rather skip out on going out to a restaurant or not buy that cute pair of heels and have a clean home.

Aside from cleanliness, Jenna's new year's resolution was to become more organized. She says that for her that means that everything in her home has a place. Using organizational systems like bins, baskets, labeling drawers and dejunking has helped her tackle this long time goal. 

In her son's room she took the time to organize with him, educating him on where toys should go so that she sends him to tidy up, he knows where everything goes too. 

Nicole's design style is super minimal and clean. Without realizing it she picked a pretty narrow color scheme of black white and gray with pops of yellow throughout most of her home. This makes it so easy to rearrange decor and furniture! With such standard color choices, you can imagine that the realm of possibilities when shopping is large!

Outside of Small Fry, Nicole does photography as as side business. Her schedule is jam packed down to the minute and she says not being home does wonders for her home's cleanliness! She cleans her home top to bottom on Monday's and then tidies up every day in between. She also says having a play room with a closable door right off the kitchen makes clean up a breeze.

Thanks girls! And make sure you check out Small Fry. It will become one of your new daily reads. 

We just laid down this new Candy Dot rug in our new playroom and it is amazing! This rug screams, "fun"! The dots are raised which creates a fun effect to drive cars over and it's nice and soft which makes it a great rug for playing on. This rug has every color under the sun in it so it will go with almost any decor scheme and boys and girls alike will love it! 

This post and series is brought to you by one of my favorite places to shop for Kids, Land of Nod