Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wooden Stools

Ever since I found this cool number, I've been wanting to get at least one more stool that can double (or triple?) as a plant stand, end table, stool, sort of sculptural piece.

I've been stalking Remodelista--a fantastic blog that gives great inspiration. They had some low stools/ottomans featured, including these:

Alma Allen Turned Stools

Eames Walnut Stool $829

Ok, so sometimes the prices for the items are a little too inspirational for me, but having a visual of a coveted item or a new project idea is helpful and fun, so I had these images in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to the day I picked up an antique bread box for a friend at an antique center and had 20 minutes before they closed to roam around and check out the different booths. And I found this solid wood sculptural piece (for $50!):
Of course, I'm still debating on the antique purchase. I just can't dismiss my internal conflict of wanting to operate with no buyer's remorse and appreciating a good return policy, while prefering craigslisting, thrifting and antiquing for character and cost reasons.

And it's impossible to stop trying to develop a perspective for the cost of the table--I was checking out OneKingsLane today (check out my frequented sample sale site descriptions and invitations here) and came across this:
Barbara Cosgrove Side Table, $299

With all this in mind, let me know your thoughts. Should I go for the table from the antique center if it's still available?
Hmm, the clock is ticking, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Drapes: a Looming Issue?

I've already spoken about my habit of mulling over project ideas ad nauseum before beginning (here and here, for example), but it's all just part of the creative process and sometimes saves me some money, mistakes or regrets in the end.

That said, I still found it ridiculous that I spent a month showering in the upstairs bathroom while I decided what to do for my shower curtain in the master bath.

I wanted to visually elongate the low ceilings (only 7 feet high) and complement the natural floor and shower wall tiles. Ultimately I found my main project supplies at IKEA:
KVARTAL ceiling mounted curtain rods (I used the curved portions to extend the curtain away from the tub)
LENDA curtains (be on the lookout for their periodic curtain discounts!)
I bought 4 inch buckrum/header for the top hem of the curtain at a fabric supply store, along with some hooks that hook into the sliders on the curtain rod.
I also used some hole reinforcements for the screws that attach the rod to the ceiling drywall.

After expert sewing assistance (thanks, Mom!), my curtains were natural, drapey perfection!

I love the look of the shower light glow behind the curtains when the rest of the bathroom is dark, and I think the break near the bottom hem softens all the angles in the space. I also like to think that anyone who wanders into the bathroom can envision a tidy closet behind the drawn curtain, but I can gather it to the side for frequent access without blocking any walkway or closet space.

Now I just need to develop a concept for affordable curtains in the living room and master bedroom...

PS: If you have a similar project in mind, be prepared to spend about $10 to $12 more on your plastic curtain liner! The standard size didn't end quite low enough to stay in the tub.

Update:  I subbed out the plastic curtain liner for a fabric liner after becoming unnerved about the possibility of off-gassing from the curtain. Even if the off-gassing isn't an issue, it's nice to be able to throw the liner in the washing machine periodically instead of trying to scrub the plastic one and laying it in the sun to avoid gross shower build-up.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wishes for Dishes

I've been lucky to have roommates for the past several years (including my folks, naturally), who have had extensive kitchen supplies--silverware, glasses, plates, small appliances, the works. Which means I went for quite awhile without paying attention to anything kitchen related except food! After moving into my place, I thought about posting a roommate ad along the lines of "Seeking Roommate: Kitchen supplies required, ability to live in remodeling chaos a plus..." but ultimately I decided I would have to face the unknown and research some dishes.

And after considerable internet legwork, I found them!

Timeless, gorgeous, reviewed at 5 out of 5 stars!
And priced at only $30 per plate, they were a steal!
...for someone else, I suppose. Cue sigh of resigned disappointment.

Wedgwood Dishes

So, back to the drawing board--which was even more difficult because I now had a pretty definite idea of what I wanted, so I was relatively unexcited about the whole process. Fortunately I'm dating someone who is was so averse to hearing my (constant?) complaining about the lack of perfect dishes at the perfect price that he sent me some links to a few options...including these:

Woohoo! The well-proportioned curved sides that I wanted, the unadorned, crisp white, the subtly tapered edges and at an absolute fraction of the cost.

Crate&Barrel Outlet Coupe Plates

(I'm not going to lie, when I saw some of the prices for china in the Wedgwood realm it took me a couple moments to realize that the prices were quoted per plate. It's also possible that I wouldn't fully appreciate the fantastic quality of china if I was always terrified of marring the set.)

The plates got great online reviews (a mere tenth of a star less than the Wedgwood's rating) and have held up well. The only setback was that I find them versatile enough to use for serving dishes and they fit in a tiered plate holder that's perfect for hors d'oeuvres or cookies (thanks, Kim!), so I tend run out of dinner plates during big dinners!

Any dishware/glassware/servingware successes?
Have you gotten any awesome hand-me-downs or are you that roommate that always supplies the KT items?
Most importantly, could I put you on my list of people who would be willing to eat dinner off a salad plate?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chalk it up

I recently posted the recipe my friends used for my birthday cookie gift--and mentioned the cool chalkboard-labeled container it came it. Then I remembered that my sister received a great chalkboard photo frame a few weeks earlier for her birthday, which prompted me to search for different kitchenwares with chalk-writing capability...

1. CB2 tabletop chalkboard $15
2. World Market pint glasses & wine glasses $16 (set of 4)
3. Crate&Barrel slate coasters $20 (set of 4)
4. World Market Glass Storage Containers $4-$5 (so many options!)
5. Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint (click for retailers, I think Target/Home Depot/Lowe's carry variations for around $10)

I haven't done any chalkboard projects yet, but I think a tabletop chalkboard would be fun idea for writing a menu or labeling buffet items so guests know that it's peanut butter dip and not hummus.

Does anyone already have some chalkboard projects under their belt?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Buy Handmade

I had some lovely company and great gifts (like this one) for my birthday last month, including some amazing handmade earrings from Emily.

She's super talented (check out her etsy store, Stone . Paper . Metal) and inspired (she talks about some daily inspirations in her blog).

I'm lucky to have amazing and creative friends! Have you ever given or received a great handmade gift?

Friday, February 5, 2010

PB and J-normous Possibilities

I'm not a peanut butter fiend (I haven't ever felt the urge to stop in an eatery and order a peanut butter sandwich), but I was trying to think of a way to make a bowl of common fruit seem even more appealing, and peanut butter dip fit the bill. After searching for recipes online (in the grocery store, naturally I planned ahead), I combined a few recipes to come up with this general approximation of a recipe:

Peanut Butter Dip
creamy peanut butter (1/2 cup or so)
vanilla yogurt (I used 2 portions of a yogurt 4-pack)
Cool Whip (you can alter amount to desired fluffiness, or skip entirely if you want it to be thicker)
cinnamon (a few pinches)

Mix the PB, yogurt and cinnamon together until uniform, then fold in the Cool Whip.

The dip was a hit with bananas slices and apple wedges once people realized that it wasn't hummus.

Any easy "recipes" to share?

Monday, February 1, 2010

My jewelry's been framed!

When I took a breather after moving and traveling, I decided that I needed to store my jewelry in a more accessible manner than in the fish tackle boxes that I'd been carting around in my suitcase. If I'm going to wear something, I need to know it exists or I forget about it, so I needed an uncluttered display option for my accumulated bling. Luckily, my sister had experimented with hanging her jewelry in frames, so I had my future project in mind.

So, when I saw a $10 box o'frames advertised as a Black Friday door buster I decided that the deal was worth leaving my toasty bed in the middle of the night (eh, I was unemployed at the time, it's not like I couldn't nap later). After securing my set of 10 variously sized frames I promptly put them (you guessed it from previous my project M.O.) in my parents' garage.

This was one of the projects I did soon after moving in, since I already had it conceptualized and the materials were readily available.

I picked up some inexpensive linen look material (a yard was plenty), some cork tiles from Lowe's (they come in a pack and are pretty inexpensive) and got to work. I removed the glass from the frames (it went into the garage to wait for a future project, naturally), doubled the fabric and placed it over the cork (you can secure them together if you want, but it wasn't necessary for me), which I had cut to fit the frame. Don't worry if this fabric/cork stack is too thick to secure the frame backing like you would a regular photo--just tape the backing securely to the backside of the frame and you can use the existing hanger to hook it on a nail. I bought some sturdy pins and got my jewelry organized!

I have mine inside my closet:

My sister has has hers displayed on her bedroom wall with different frames that she's accumulated, which makes for a cool aesthetic, too.

Do you have any accessories on display? Shoes on a bookshelf, china on a wall, hats in the entryway?

Anytime is window-shopping time

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for my budget), I don't make it out to stores that frequently. I rely on 1) my sister, who is amazingly adept at scouting deals and keeping others in mind when she's out shopping--I know, I owe her--and 2) online shopping. I tend to wait until a site has a deal on shipping before I buy, since it helps me justify not scheduling an in-person trip to the mall.

I also subscribe to several sample sale sites that offer awesome discounts (some awesome discounts are actually in my budget, some aren't) on certain brands for a couple days. It pays to look ahead and see if there's a brand you like that's going to be featured in the future, since the well-priced items can sell out really quickly and you'll want to be one of the first "in line."

You have to have an invitation to join the sites (even though it's free) and, as a member, you can offer invitations to others!

Feel free to use my invite links--click on the site name below--to subscribe to any of the sample sale sites below:

Gilt Groupe - Ranges from super high-end designers to less pricey brands with home decor and vacations, too. Their photos make purchases easier since they're well styled and accurately represented.

One Kings Lane - In addition to decor items, they have an ever-changing inspiration section with ideas and photos from different designers--and they included an Archipelago candle with the coverlet I bought recently, which was a nice touch!)

Joss and Main - Great selection of home goods (decor, kitchen, outdoor) at a variety of price points.

RueLaLa - Their clearance sales are great! Mid to high-end labels, men's and home items.

Ideeli - Check out their red sales.

Hautelook - great customer service from my experience (when a non-returnable product wasn't accurately described, they accepted the return).

Editor's Closet (don't be turned off by the music at their home page)
Email me for this ( and I'll send you an invite, they don't have a url invite option.

Billion Dollar Babes  - they don't seem to change up their sales as often, but have cool jewelry lines and some casual clothes, and kid focused boutiques, too. UPDATE 6/26/12: This site doesn't appear to be having sales anymore.

Beyond the Rack - I don't visit regularly, but occasionally they'll feature a brand at a good price.

Full disclosure: I get a kickback if you make a purchase from the site, which helps me deal with the fact that more people will possibly be competing with me for potential purchases!

Has anyone gotten any smoking deals from any of these sites? Do you have any other sites that you peruse?

If you give a birthday girl a cookie...

I received some homemade cookies for my recent birthday and the thoughtful gift (even more impressive since my friends were detoxing and they abstained from sampling any (!)--it's nice to have crazy friends) was packaged in a rectangular glass jar that features a chalkboard patch for labeling. The cookies are (ok, were) amazing and survived a whole 2 days before disappearing. I asked for the recipe and, unbeknownst to all the folks who tried the cookies, they were gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free. I guess you can't knock something until you've tried it--so you should try it...and then stop by with some:

1 cup coconut oil
6 Tbs unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (this is dry sugar)
2 cups gluten free all purpose baking flour (my friend uses Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 ground flax seed
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (my friend uses Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup choc chips

Preheat oven to 325. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix oil, applesauce, salt, vanilla, and evaporated cane juice. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, flax seed, baking soda, and xanthan gum. Carefully add dry ingredients to wet mixture with a rubber scraper and stir until a grainy dough is formed. Gently fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Use a melon baller to scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Gently press the dough with heel of your hand to help them spread. Bake on center rack for 15 min, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 9 min. The finished cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center.

Let cookies stand on sheet for 10 min, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before storing.

The recipe is from a recipe book (Baby Cakes) from the "vegan, mostly gluten-free, mostly sugar-free" Baby Cakes Bakery in New York.