Wednesday Walk: A Gift

20110427-031837.jpg

Middle of the week and here I am with my trusty phone blogging. This afternoon, instead of taking a walk around the building I had some errands to run. Since I always work through lunch, it’s nice to get a change of scenery in the afternoon if I can. Today I headed off to James Avery to pick up a gift for my Goddaughter’s birthday. I popped in last week and it was ready to pick up today.

On her first birthday I started a charm bracelet for her. Each year I give her a charm engraved with a trait or a lesson I’ve been learning over the past year. I include a letter to her with whatever wisdom I want to impart to her about what I’ve learned.

So over the years, I’ve given her Intuition, Love, Grace, among others. I’ll have to keep this year’s a secret for now. But I was pleased it was ready to pick up today. Now I can get it in the mail with her other gifts.

And since we’re talking about gifts and lessons learned, I realized a couple of things. I spent some time looking back over my posts on this blog and it made me realize how much I enjoy blogging here. It’s been a place to journal about stuff I’m going through, talk about books and movies, decor and fashion. It’s also been a great way for me to explore my photography. I do love when you all comment here and I do dearly appreciate you reading. So, I’ve decided that this blog makes me happy and my wonderful readers make me happy too, so I’d best continue on with posting here!

I’ve met and corresponded with so many amazing people through blogging and I can’t imagine where I would be without all the inspiration I get from other blogs. So, I’m here for the ride, wherever it may take me.

Thanks so much for stopping by, it’s truly a gift.

Share

Decorating with Quilts

I’m still on my decorating kick, if you couldn’t tell.  It’s spring, I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV and looking at a lot of design blogs…so I’m nesting.  One of the things that is so important to me in decorating our home is incorporating my creative side.  I create, and I have a love of handmade things, so it’s important to me for that to be reflected in our space.  One of the ways I do this is by layering in quilts.  Quilts to me are a great way  to add texture and warmth to a space.  They can be functional and cozy, like the quilt in the photo above draped over the arm of the sofa.  When we’re watching tv or I’m curled up with a good book, I love having a quilt to snuggle up in.  When it’s something I’ve made with my own hands, it becomes even more special.

Quilts are also a great way to add color and interest to a wall instead of using typical framed art pieces.  This quilt is what pulled together our whole vision for our dining room and I’m thrilled with how it looks on the wall.  It adds some dimension to the space because it’s not flat against the wall, and it picks up the red of our placemats and napkins.  The dining room is really one of my favorite rooms in the house because I love the way it’s all come together.  Both Eric and I are really represented in this room. 

We’ve also used quilts in the Master bedroom.  Another wall quilt, this one a wedding gift hand-quilted by my best friend.  I love that it’s subtle and works with our mostly monochromatic palette.  It adds just a touch of texture against the wall. 

One of the few places where we have color in our neutral bedroom oasis is the quilt stand with a couple of quilts on it.  The red and white quilt is our wedding quilt.  I had our guests sign fabric squares instead of a guest book, writing messages to us if they wanted.  I then sewed them into this quilt.  I love the pop of red in the room, that I’ve picked up in a couple other small accessories.  The quilt behind our wedding quilt is a baby quilt done in 30s repro fabrics.  I like having it in here as a nod to the future. 

I love having quilts sprinkled throughout the house; to curl up under, to add as artwork on the walls, or as visible memory albums (or promises of future memories).  I’m sure I’ll continue making quilts, and they’ll continue to find new places to live in our home – just a little touch of cozy.

Share

Wednesday Walk: Dreams of Travel

20110420-042649.jpg

Wednesday! I’ve been training my replacement at work this week (I’ve been doing two jobs for awhile now), and you wouldn’t believe the amount of walking I’ve been doing. We’ve walked all over this place repeatedly in the past three days. This morning when I passed by this world map I had to snap a photo for my post today.

For the past several months I’ve been jonesing to go someplace. And that got even worse when I read Elefantitas Alegres’ posts on her recent trip to Italy. Oh I miss Italy! And with our recent anniversary, it only makes me want to travel more.

I’ve even been thinking a lot about being a travel photographer. How cool would that be?! To experience new places and see new things (and take photos of everything!).

And since this year is a milestone birthday (it was a milestone anniversary too!) I’m dying to actually go somewhere to celebrate. I was hoping for someplace like Paris or Spain, but those may just be dreams. Plus, there was that whole drama with my family last year around my birthday, and you may recall that birthdays are rough for me anyway, so the allure of getting out of Dodge is strong!!

But it sure is fun to dream. And one day travel will be something we get to incorporate back into our lives. I can’t wait to take some more photos for our gallery wall!!

Share

Living Room Redo

Since I’m on a spring cleaning/redecorating kick right now, I thought I’d share before & after photos from a while back when my friend, Jennifer, came over to help me do some revamping in our living room. 

Let me start off by saying, 1) we rent our home so there’s only so much I can do (ie no paint, etc.) and 2) our living room is one of the places in our home that gives me the most trouble designwise.  I just can’t seem to get it looking like I’d like it too, barring buying all new furniture, which is not in the budget right now.  So, I was thrilled when Jennifer agreed to come over and help with a little revamping. 

These are the “before” photos.  And OMG they are bad.  I had pulled out the picture hanging gear, which is what’s sitting on the couch, but otherwise this was pretty much the normal state of affairs.  Sad sad sad. 

All the furniture in here is hand-me-down except for one bookshelf, that I bought. 



I’m actually a little horrified to be showing the before shots.  But, what are you gonna do?  The room is just a mishmash of furniture and styles and I was hopeful that we could at least make it somewhat less of an eyesore. 

I pulled some inspiration photos to show Jennifer.  Some of the photos were of stuff I had around the house, that I thought might work in the room (she kept saying, why is buried in this other room???).  I want a look that is warm, eclectic and shows our love of travel (ie things picked up from all over the world).  Plus, Eric loves Cuba and the “Havana” style, so I wanted to bring that in as well.

Jennifer did an amazing job with what she had to work with.  The first thing she did was move the piece that was over the mantle into the entry and replace it with a map that we had in the office.   Love it! 

She worked on rearranging the bookshelves and some of the knick-knacks I have.  The two ceramic Japanese eggs moved over to the top of the bookshelf. 

The print hanging on the wall there (that you can’t really see clearly) is a photo from Grand Central Station that Eric took and is sepia-toned.  It used to hang in the entry, but this was a better location for it.  It works with the warm tones we were going for in the room. I don’t even really remember what was on the coffee table before (I think it was just a ceramic bowl and the chess set).  I like the carved box there a lot better (plus then someone isn’t throwing stuff in my beautiful piece of pottery).

I really love the map over the mantel, but I’ll have to work on things to put on the mantel itself.  For now, I’m liking the blue and white bowl.  She also placed the hookah and a brass bird vase next to the fireplace.  I need one more item there to round it out. 

The coffee table is actually one of the few things in the room that I like.  It’s different and interesting.  But those couches have got to go.

We worked on the artwork over the sofa too.  Originally, three prints of the photos Eric took in Rome hung there, but when I created our gallery wall of travel photos they got moved.  I replaced them with those flower prints, which I admit, were not great.  Jennifer suggested a collection of Cuban things to hang there.

And when she redid the bookshelf, I ended up with this collection of cigar books and boxes.  Love this shelf.  And my wooden bowl from Hawaii looks perfect there as well. 

View towards the kitchen.

And I like what she did on the media cabinet, she put my pottery collection up there, as well as my two statues (but oh to have cabinet doors over all that equipment).

View towards the entry.  You can see the art over the sofa better. 

Here it is closeup.  A Cuba painting.  Two framed collages of cigar wrappers.  Cigar art is just fantastic and so colorful.  And Eric had this cigar mold that was in my inspiration photos.  We took it apart and with his permission I attached hangers to it so that we could hang them.  Brilliant – I love the texture and interest these add!

And here’s a closeup of the bookshelf.  She rearranged my books to make the shelves more interesting and add some color coding and rhythm.  It looks so much better!

And one of the things I had in my inspiration photos was this map of Cuba I’d been eyeing.  Jennifer encouraged me to purchase it, and a few months later it took up residence over the mantel.  I love it!

So there you have it, my living room redo.  It’s still a process, and I hope to one day be able to purchase new furniture for this room.  I think it will go a long way towards creating the vision I want.  But, in the meantime, Jennifer did a great job with what she had to work with!!

Share

Inspiration from New York

I came across a couple of photos from a home we stayed in on Long Island (still looking at inspiration photos).  I thought these accessories in the guest room I stayed in were interesting…  This room was done in blue, white and yellow.  And yes, Eric and I had to stay in separate rooms! 

The blue and white ceramic spheres would look lovely in a large bowl on a table.

Ok, back to working on my house!

Share

Inspiration from Virginia

It could be that I’ve got Spring Cleaning on the brain (which always goes hand in hand with redecorating).  Or it could be that I spent a good portion of yesterday watching HGTV.  But, I’m dying to spend some time working on our house – organizing, cleaning out, decorating, sprucing up, etc.  This morning I woke up with an urge to look through my inspiration photos for some ideas.  I came across these photos I took in the Virginia home of a friend of ours when we stayed with them a few years ago.  (Am I the only one that goes around taking photos of your host’s home for inspiration???) 

I fell absolutely head over heels in love with her home.  It’s one of those old Southern homes that has so much character to it just on its own, and when you layer in her own touches, I wanted to move right in. 

I mean, look at the windows around her front door.  How much would I give for a spiderweb transom like that?  And look at the fireplace surround…

Transoms over the interior doors too (look at that wood!).

Even the doorknobs had personality!

She was still doing a lot of work on the house, including this downstairs guest bath.  Look at that ceiling, and the toile hunting scene, and the light fixture!  She was in the process of repurposing an antique dresser as a vanity, and installing a clawfoot tub too.

And I loved that she wasn’t afraid to use black accents throughout the home.  Lovely! 

I’m always thankful to be surrounded by such creative and inspiring people, and when I can take a little peek into their homes it’s even better!  Now, off to do some decorating!

Share

Five Years

On Friday morning I came downstairs to find not one, but two vases of roses from Eric.  We were celebrating our five year wedding anniversary, and I couldn’t believe all the roses!  They were stunning!  He also had a sweet sweet card for me as well.

We decided to celebrate our day by going out to dinner on Saturday night.  He took me to Texas de Brazil, which was fantastic.  We had excellent service and a wonderful meal.  And we indulged in Caipirinhas and the best flan we’ve had in a long time. 

And actually we’d gone out to dinner the Saturday before to an amazing Greek restaurant, Zizikis.  So it was kind of like we had double the celebration!! 

Along with my two vases of roses, he also gave me a single white rose.  Before our anniversary each year, I put out the vase that we used for our rose ceremony during our wedding.  And each year, he places a single white rose in it, as a continued promise of our vows.  That, to me, is the best part of our anniversary.

Since the traditional gift for a fifth anniversary is wood, I decided to gift Eric with some frames.  We always print out one or two photos from our trips and hang them.  I knew we had at least two trips we’d never printed photos from, and I figured I’d give us a promise for more travel too. 

Once the photos are printed, they’ll hang on our gallery wall in the entry of our home.  I love love love having all the photos from our travels hanging here together.  And it greets you as you come in the front door, so they are always a conversation piece.  I can’t wait to get the opportunity to travel again.  It’s something we really love to do together, and I always love exploring new places with Eric.

We had a lovely anniversary, and I can’t believe another year has come along.  (Eric even let me use his nice macro lens to take some photos of my roses – roses and a photography lesson – you can’t beat that!)

And to think that five years ago, we were here…

Share

Wednesday Walk: Empty Seats

20110413-031210.jpg

I actually did go for my afternoon walk today. Never sure where I’m going to end up. Lately, I’ve been trying to change my attitude and spend more time focusing on what I’m grateful for in my life. But it’s a struggle somedays.

Today I’m wondering what the point is of continuing to post on this blog if no one is reading it. I’ve always said I post for myself, but I post for other reasons too. And it’s always nice to get feedback, answers, etc. So day after day, when there’s no comments, I wonder if it’s worth the effort.

But, it’s not just the blog. I find myself reaching out, trying to break out of my shell and there’s no response. Crickets.

And yes, I’m oversensitive and high strung right now. And yes I love seeing my photos and thoughts out on the web. And yes I have to keep putting it out there if I expect a response.

But, I’m just wondering today. Mulling.

Maybe the effort will seem worth it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m also thinking about setting goals, getting some projects done, and adding some posts to this effect.

The first things coming to mind are:
1. Yoga
2. Projects in office
3. Photos for gallery wall
4. Media room clean out
5. Storage clean out

So, it’s a plan…while I mull. And in the meantime I do always appreciate the comments I get (Hi, Valerie).

Share

Living Art

Remember a few days ago when I posted my Flamenco shoot?  And I said that it was really my first foray into shooting models?  Yeah, apparently I was smoking something when I wrote that.  I was digging back through photos and found this folder of shots from August of last year.  ???  Yeah, I don’t know.  You’d think that my memory would be better than that.  Anywho…back in August of last year, Eric and I went with the photo club to the Brooklyn Jazz Café to shoot the body painting event they were having. 

It was a little difficult getting the right settings for this shoot since we were on location, in a bar, with some less than perfect lighting.  Looks good in person, but harder to capture an image. 

But with Eric’s help, I finally got my settings figured out and think I got some good shots.  All of the body painting was really interesting, very well done. 

As you can see, most of the models were inside shadowboxes, each with different lighting. 

And lest you think it was only women being painted, there were paintings of the male sort too.

Along with the shadowbox models, there were other models that were wandering about the crowd and were painted to advertise various liquors. 

It was a fun event, and definitely moved me out of my comfort zone.  Such interesting places this photography thing takes me!

Share

Flamenco

A few weeks ago, I decided to face my fear expand my horizons and go up to the studio to shoot.  We had the opportunity to shoot two Flamenco dancers, which I thought would be really cool.  Since this was the first time I’d ever shot in a studio setting, I was actually kind of surprised I got any shots that were worth looking at. 

It’s a lot harder to take photos of people than it is to take photos of buildings, that’s for sure.  And when you’re shooting dancers, that’s even harder.  I found that I kept getting ahead of my lights and so many of my photos were crap because my lights didn’t fire due to not having enough time to recycle.  Rookie mistake, I guess. 

I really enjoyed myself though and I was so pleased that I actually made myself go.  I think it was worth it to get some different experience under my belt.

I enjoyed seeing their different costumes too, plus we had great music for them to dance to.

Next time, they’re talking about having some belly dancers in, which would be awesome since I used to do that.  There’s also talk of having an aerialist in.  So, lots of potential for future shoots where I can work on my studio photography.

I have to say, it is kind of fun working with a model and seeing their personality come out through the photos. 

A fun evening, and I highly recommend taking in a Flamenco show if you get the opportunity. 

Share