Saturday, March 27, 2010

Couldn't Contain Myself!

So, exciting news....wait for it..... I just visited The Container Store!
Yeah, I knew you'd be excited for me.

I had a list of areas that need organization inspiration--pantry, closet under the stairs, garage storage, laundry room closet--and went to town. Well, not exactly, but I did get some items to combat this:

This is under my staircase and has to be the antithesis of a dozen feng shui principles.

Just like I always do (literally, always) before shopping at a store for the first time, I check out their website and sign up for their emails. Usually there's a welcome email with a coupon--which was definitely the case with the Container Store.

P.S. When I checked out, I commented to the cashier that I was amazed that she had fit a cart full of items into 2 bags. After she trailed off in her comment that it's her favorite part of the job, she quickly interjected "but I know it should be the people, but it's so fun to see how few bags I can use." It's always refreshing to meet someone who seems to be in the perfect job for them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Home is a Place to Hang Your Towel

I'm still not set on the towel placement in the master bath, but necessity required that I get at least one towel bar on the wall--whether or not it will be moved eventually. I was looking for a towel bar with clean lines, no decor or embelishment, and a brushed metal. Something like these...
1. Robern Smart $152
2. Home Collection $103

Since the high prices of pared-down items continually amaze me, (in a that-must-be-amazing/handcrafted/quality way, not in a that's-in-my-price-range way) I went to Target and emerged with this:

I wasn't banking on it having any detail at all, but I think the look is clean enough that I'm happy with it.

And with the perspective that the $16 pricetag wasn't too bad, I got a matching hook, too.

We'll see where that ends up.

On the note of towels, I just got more white towels and washcloths at OneKingsLane (again, huge fan of sample sale sites)--I'm excited to retire the aqua towels (from a decor scheme from long ago that is great, but not my current look) that I've been having to replace with my very limited supply of not-so-awesome white towels when people come over. The towels were about the same price as Ross/TJMaxx/Marshalls--and hopefully will fare better than the cheapy white towels I got at Ross. Sometimes the extra buck a towel is worth it.

Any stories of solved fixture "situations"?
Is it too weird to have your towel bar and shower on the opposite sides of the bathroom?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Glassware Versatility

I wouldn't say I'm the most organized person (neither would anyone else), but I find it satisfying when things are in "their place." This can be an issue, however, when I still don't have attractive storage options and I'm reduced to designating a square foot of open counterspace as an item's "place". So, I started putting pens and markers in stemless wine glasses that had outnumbered the space in their cupboard shelf.

Now all sorts of items have a place, it just happens to be in a drinking glass. I've carried the useful option to other situations:  I put forks and knives in a heavier glass when I'm guests are helping themselves from a buffet and I put toothpicks in delicate shot glasses with stems. I like the wine glasses as a catch all for whatever I'm collecting for a project at the moment--most recently fortune cookie messages--even scraps of paper have a chance at looking charming when housed in something that looks intentional. I could get ambitious and even use them for little plants. If I didn't have an electric toothbrush, I might keep a toothbrush in one of these, too!

The only problem with too much convertible usage (a la my shortage of dishes) is that I may not have glasses left for drinking...

Any easy open storage solutions to share?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Punchy Chandelier Part 2

I may have intended for the follow-up to my initial post about my punch cup chandelier project to celebrate its brilliant (literally) completion, but it's currently languishing in an intermediate state that I thought I'd share, anyway.

Intermediate ta da!

It's wiring and hanging and functioning just fine (thanks, Dad!). I'm thinking i need to finish off the top--maybe with a band of fabric that mirrors the color on the angled portion of the ceiling alcove. (Good thing I made that fabric haul, right?) And I have a handful more punch cups to even out the top portion

Doesn't it look 50 times better than when it was suspended between 2 chairs during the beginning of the process?
Expect a post when I finally finish it up!

FYI, if you try this at home, expect it to weigh a TON--and to have to reinforce the chain appropriately.
Also, it's useful if the light is connected to a dimmer switch--with all the lightbulbs and the clear glass it can get pretty bright. Mine is on a dimmer switch, but I still might only screw in half the lightbulbs all the way so it's not as blinding.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Where are all the crewnecks?!

So, I have nothing against all types of sweaters, but seriously, someone direct me to a crewneck sweater in a wearable color (for someone who might be non-neutral averse) that's (mostly) natural fibers and isn't too slouchy, isn't too form fitting, isn't sheer, doesn't have a logo, isn't cableknit, and is a lighter/thin weight and has finished hems. Honestly, it's currently an endangered species! Are those specifications asking too much? The two cashmere crewneck shortsleeve sweaters and the one cashmere/cotton longsleeve sweater I have are in such heavy wardrobe rotation I'm afraid they'll fall apart in the middle of the day. They're just so perfect for the easy work outfit with a statement necklace that follows the neckline (oddly, I have plenty of chunky necklaces...for the time being). They work with pants or skirts and look great under a suit jacket. So where are they?  Mass retailers don't seem to be putting any out right now (not even White+Warren and Zara*, the origins of my current options) which is simply crazy considering they could have looks like this:

Stella McCartney from (See TheChambrayCountess's take on the look on her blog here.)
Sigh, perfection.

*ok, Zara, I'm not giving you a fighting chance since we now have a long-distance relationship, but you could win me over if you start selling online...

Update: I just did a google search and came up this option from Target--hmmm, we'll see about this one.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chandelier Dilemma

The ongoing chandelier saga continues. You may have seen the earlier incarnations of the chandelier here and here and, well, it looks pretty such the same. But there's a reason! I finally was gifted some thrifted glass plates to finish off the top row of the chandelier--they're a perfect size and fit right in between the wires that extend outward, so I got a plate holder at Michael's to experiment mounting the plate on that top chandelier wire. Need a visual? I always do...

Looks like a plan, right? The plate holder lines up with the chandelier frame and a wire can be twisted around both to secure it. Painless. Except for the dearth of colors available for the plate holders. I have yet to discover a color option other than gold or shiny brass (read: gold) for these plate holders! Why?!

But, after searching online and in stores (walking into the plate hanger store, etc) I was resigned to the fact I'd have to work with the gold ones. So I thought I'd spraypaint them--makes sense, I love spraypainting, (not just because of the scent, I promise) yipee. But I'm confronted with more dilemmas--the springs will be compressed when I paint and will expand when they're in use, likely causing cracks in the spraypaint and overall not-nice-looking-ness. And the rubber cushiony things that enclose the wire portion that touches the plate are impossible to remove. Even if they were possible to remove, I'd need them back on the wire (since the chandelier is below the loft and heavy foot traffic--or a mean session of double dutch--can shake the chandelier) and putting them back on might flake the paint, as well.

Phew, there's my predicament. Any thoughts? Is the gold a deal-breaker? Advice and/or commiseration welcome...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Orange you glad I didn't waste fruit?

I'm beginning to see a link between elements of the relatively edited sparse decor in my house:  food. There's a burlap bag of walnuts on the entryway credenza, bowls for pistachios and their discarded shells lined up on a tray on the coffee table, some candy in a stainless bowl on the kitchen counter and some citrus fruit visible as you walk in the front door:

But at least the decor can be useful... What's better than a visual pick-me-up? One that's attractive and offers you a snack! All that citrus color is pretty punchy for a monochromatic house, no? Got to love the sporadic gifts from overly abundant grapefruit and orange trees of friends. I'm thinking about planting a mini orange tree in my yard...maybe I should get a juicer for added incentive.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Putting the Fab in Fabric

I can't tell if I love envisioning projects or finishing projects more--thus far I'm much more successful at starting them up and taking my dear, sweet time to finish them (as evidenced here and here).

I recently went to SAS, a fabric warehouse that sells discarded and scrap fabric and fabric by the pound. When I was a kid I'd look forward to going because I could dunk my hands into huge bins of buttons and beads and find all things sparkly. But this time I went to rifle through piles of potential pillow covers, headboard material, dining chair upholstery, frame matting, and whatever else I can identify as a "need" in my house.

This photo can't even begin to document the treasure hunt that is shopping at SAS.

But after it was all done (and only $17 later), I had some nice neutrals in various weights, a potential headboard cover, and a faux leather woven material that will end up somewhere awesome.

Until the projects get underway, the haul is adding to a little tableau (ok, chairau?) in a corner of my bedroom.

Does anyone else always carry paint swatches with them--just in case?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dinner Dilemma Averted

After running errands post-workday (including returning this--I want a salt pig/pot/cellar, but I'd constantly think of South Park's Kenny if this was on my kitchen counter), I was coming up on an In-and-Out Burger (my lone fast food indulgence) and was salivating for a quick dinner since I had nothing substantial at home. It wasn't until I was in the inescapable turn lane that I realized that I'm not eating meat on Fridays. Sheesh. So, Plan B--grocery store. When I got there I do what I always do:  grab a handbasket, subconsciously load it with the heaviest items in the store, have my arm fall asleep, and rush through my shopping because I'm uncomfortable. This left me with mozzarella medallions, apples, carrots, orange juice, edamame, mushrooms, 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's, and a loaf of kalamata olive bread. Awesome.

I started brainstorming how to make a meal out of my haul and remembered a potato salad I made (recipe courtesy Giada) for a family dinner a few weeks ago. It was so great ate the leftovers for every meal until it was gone.

Anyway, I used up a third of a pound of grape tomatoes (from my caprese skewers at book club), cut up about 8 mushrooms, 4 mozzarella medallions, some scallions and parsley (leftover from the potato salad prep, but I swear they were still good), peppered it and called it a day. I probably would've added olive oil had the tomatoes not been so juicy. Had that with a couple toasted slices of kalamata loaf drizzled with olive oil.
Ok, so I actually had already eaten the bread slices I toasted first...with cream cheese, mmm, miraculously still in the I had to toast more. And then I had another slice with cream cheese for good measure.
Nice and light and maybe I'll have room for ice cream after I return home later tonight.
Anyone have any dinner goulash standbys?
Seriously, try Giada's potato salad and get back to me--great stuff.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Used as a Doormat

It's been uncharacteristically rainy lately. I know I said it was unexpectedly rainy before, but I mean it this time, too. If you came into my place, you would immediately know it has been raining the past several days because of a pile of shoes by the door--taken off to not track anything into the house, but making a display that's probably more unattractive than whatever I'd be tracking in on the floor. Tracking the rain inside would likely be mitigated with an outdoor mat that actually intact and wasn't necessarily something that came with the house. My current mat is a very beat up rendition of this, which isn't offensive, but is relatively small and has seen much better days.

1. Huffco Mat $12

2. Strathwood Mat $35

3. Interlocking Mat $69 each piece

4. Crate&Barrel Grid Mat $15

5. tag Mat $27

Does anyone out there have a mudroom? I'm jealous. Well, I'm jealous a few times a year.
Any doormat preferences?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reading is Exhausting...

...which is why Book Club snacks are necessities. My book club meets in the mid-morning, so I'm treated to brunch at least once a month (which is a great reward for staying up late and waking up early to finish the assigned reading!).

This past Sunday it was my turn to host so I made mini caprese skewers, hash brown casserole (in snack sized portions), peanut butter dip with apples and bananas, carrots/peppers/crackers to be used as vehicles for hummus, and offered some cocoa to wash it all down (with the option of enhancing it with Bailey's--perfect for the chilly morning!).

Oh, and the book we read was The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, so I was sure to scoop up some discounted Valentine's Day candy to offer a cheesy themed treat.

Check out some reflection on the book and some other seasonally-appropriate love-themed books on the blog of a fellow book club member: Year of 100 Books

Any good reads lately?
Any other good excuses for a midday cocktail?