Things I Love Thursday: Catching My Eye

Crescent Hotel BH

Today’s TILT post is going to be rather a mishmash of things that are making my heart beat a little faster this week. Last night the photo above of the Crescent Hotel in Beverly Hills stopped me in my tracks. I’m so completely in love with the hummingbird painting/print above the bed – such an amazing statement piece.  And the pendants on either side of the bed are beautiful as well.  They actually remind me of the lamp I have next to my bed.  Anyway, Eric and I have been working on some changes around the house and desperately need a focal piece over our bed.  I think we’ve settled on one of the photos he took in Rome, but now we need the perfect frame.

I’ve also been looking for a new wallet.  Mine is starting to look a little worse for wear.  I’m loving this patent LV – bringing a little bit of sexy back to my purse.

LV Sarah Wallet Vernis

I’ve been looking at the pave link bracelet trend that I’m seeing everywhere.  Especially fun in colors like pink, teal, emerald!  Lately I’m finding myself drawn to wearing bracelets, so I’m thinking I may need to add a little sparkle into the mix too.

T and J Pink Peonies

I’m obsessed with Moroccan style, as you know, particularly the dramatic rugs.  This one from West Elm was recently featured in Bri Emery’s office makeover.  I just love this rug so much.

West Elm Kasbah Wool Rug

And, per usual, I am way behind on my DVRed shows (still need to watch the Oscars, in fact).  I’ve had a couple of evenings at home and I’ve been catching up on The Carrie Diaries.  Have you seen this show?  Of course, Sex and the City was always near and dear to my heart – particularly as a single girl.  I was skeptical about Carrie Diaries (and still mourning the ending of Gossip Girl), but I’ve been pleasantly surprised!  It’s fun, it’s young, and OMG it’s taking me right back to highschool.  The music, the clothes, my subscription to Interview magazine…so much win.

Carrie Diaries

If you haven’t been watching, you should definitely check it out.

So, that’s just a quick little look into what I’m loving this week.  I’m glad that tomorrow’s Friday and I’m hoping to get some time this weekend to make a little progress on a few projects I’m working on around the house.  I still need to blog about some of the design changes that have been going on at the house too – we’re nearing completion on most of the rooms in the house, which is really satisfying.  So, more to come on that.  Until next time, what’s catching your eye lately?

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Things I Love Thursday: Chihuly

Well, I missed doing my TILT post last week, and almost missed it again this week.  Of course, with my birthday celebrations, my schedule is a little bit in an uproar, but I decided it was important to get this post in this week.  I’ve been having a lot of fun for my birthday and will post on that for sure soon.  But, today, I thought I’d focus on one of my favorite things.  Most people that know me for any length of time know that I love art (I have a BFA in Art History) and that one of my favorite artists is Dale Chihuly.  I have been in love with his work for a long time, and remember fondly my dad recording (back in the VHS days) specials on Chihuly and his work for me.  I’ve been lucky enough to share this love of these intricate blown glass sculptures with Eric.  And in a funny way, our relationship has involved a series of Chihuly sightings, which has been fun.  We’ve managed to see Chihuly installations in a variety of places, most recently in Miami a couple of years ago.  The photo at the top of the post was from there.

But our first foray into Chihuly sightings, and where I first introduced Eric to his work, was in the Bahamas.  Eric took me on a cruise to the Bahamas back in February of 2005.  At the Atlantis resort, I was ecstatic to find four Chihuly sculptures.

That trip to the Bahamas was also where Eric proposed.  So it was a memorable trip for sure!

The year after we were married, we took a trip to Philadelphia for his cousin’s wedding.  And guess what we stumbled upon?

This piece is called The Flame of Liberty and it is stunning.  I didn’t get the best of photos of it, since I was still kind of new to the whole photography thing.  But so fortuitous to find another Chihuly on this trip together.

On our second anniversary, Eric surprised me with a trip to Oklahoma City.  Why Oklahoma, you ask?  He took me to the Oklahoma Museum of Art which boasts the largest collection of Chihuly pieces anywhere in the world.  Now that is a man who loves me!!!  And the pieces in Oklahoma were amazing for sure.

And this ceiling that is reminiscent of the Bellagio ceiling in Las Vegas.  Such an amazing play of light and color through the glass pieces.

There was even a Chihuly at my old office.  Thankfully I took photos of it before I became a casualty of massive layoffs.

And you might wonder why I decided to focus this TILT post on Chihuly’s work?  Well, currently the Dallas Arboretum is home to a Chihuly installation and I can’t wait to go and see it.  I have heard that the pieces they have on location are stunning.  I am so looking forward to it getting a bit cooler out so that I can venture out to see what they have.

And while the pieces are always amazing in daylight, I can imagine they are even more stunning at night.  I hope to get to see them in both.

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Decorating with Books

Recently I decided that I really needed to get over and start dealing with my storage unit before someone calls Hoarders and blows the whistle.  I’ve been meaning to go through everything there and start getting rid of as much as I can.  I mean, it’s been in storage for years so the majority of it probably isn’t anything I need to keep at this point.  But, my collection of leatherbound books are actually there, and are not anything I want to part with.  I made a deal with myself that if I brought these from storage into the house, I would in return get rid of some books at the house.  Let me tell you, I made the employees at Half Price Books work for their money that day.  I brought in several big shopping bags worth of books to sell.  And as a reward, I now have a good majority of my pretty leatherbound books sitting on the shelves at home.  I was so thrilled at having “rescued” them from storage, that I thought I’d do a post about decorating with books.  Since I’ve already covered Decorating with Quilts, this seemed like another worthy topic. 

You can see in the photo at the top of the post that I’ve used my set of Tales of the Arabian Nights as a backdrop for an Erté sculpture in the deep bookcase in our bedroom.  I love how the gold plays off the deep red of the leather. 

And while those books are acting as more of a decorative element, you can see others that fit well within my bookcases in the living room.  And I’ve also used them in small vignettes throughout the house too.  Here they are with another Erté sculpture on top of a tall chest of drawers. 

And not all the books I decorate with are my nice leatherbound books.  I absolutely love this collection of books on cigar art.  They sit on a shelf next to two decorative cigar boxes, as I’ve shown you in my living room makeover post

The possibilities really are endless, and it’s a great way to actually make use of all those books you’ve got in your library.  A way to add a bit of personality to a room with a well-worn copy of a favorite book, a stack of art books on a table, even a collection on a particular subject.  I’m so thrilled to have my pretty leatherbound books with me at home now, and it was a good compromise to get rid of other books I’m not so in love with to make room for them.

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Reading My Heart Out

So I’ve been busy.  Seriously busy.  I’ve been reading my little heart out and loving every minute of it.  I thought I’d share some reviews of what I’ve read recently and since the book I just finished on Sunday is still on my mind, I’ll start with it.

I’ve mentioned before that I belong to a book club at the local Art Museum.  This month’s selection is The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal.  Let me start by saying that it always takes me a long time (probably longer than it should) to read these book club books.  It took me close to two months to read Parrot & Olivier.  So, around April 15th I went in to my local B&N and ordered this book.  Eighteen days later, still no book.  Even though I’d been told it would take 4-5 days.  Day 19, after having called the store the day before and been given the runaround, I ordered the book from Amazon.  I had it the next day.  So…the reason I’m telling you this is because at the point I got the book from Amazon I was a week out from book club.  I had one week to read this book.  This 368 page book.

So, guess what I spent the weekend doing?  I figured if I could at least get a good chunk of it read over the weekend, I’d at least have a fighting chance to finish it on time.  On Saturday, I read 240 pages.  On Sunday, I read the last 128.  Two days!  It took me two days to read this book!  Let that be a testament to how good it was.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in two days.

The book basically traces the provenance of a collection of netsuke through three generations of a family.  I have a fondness for netsuke – how could you not – just look at that photo above.   But this book had the potential to be one of those books that is so dry that I can’t get through two pages without my mind wandering – it was non-fiction, it dealt with WWII history, and it was tracing provenance.  Potential yawnfest right there.  And I love art history.  BUT… this book was amazing!  I couldn’t wait to turn the page, I was interested and excited and the events surrounding the people and their relationships only made them that much clearer and endeared them to me.  And the netsuke – they were their own cast of characters.  The tiger, the rat with obsidian eyes, the monk asleep with his offering bowl, and of course the hare with the amber eyes – they all contributed to the story and interacted with its characters (including the narrator).

One of my favorite things about the book?  That the author/narrator takes a netsuke with him when he does his research.  It’s like they each take turns traveling with him on this adventure to find out where they came from.  Love it.  I highly recommend reading this book.

The previous book I read while I was waiting for my book club book to come in.  I picked it up while I was at B&N to order the other book.  I am honestly way late to the Pioneer Woman party, but I’d heard good things about the book so I wanted to check it out.  Since I was late to this party, I hadn’t read any of this story on her blog so it was all new material to me.  I enjoyed it and it was a fun read.  At times I did find myself wondering, “do these two ever really talk to each other?”  But it later became apparent that they did.  Ree’s writing is just like her blog – funny, endearing, relaxed.  It was a good way to spend a few nights and I’m wondering if there will be a Part 2?  I just keep thinking, how did she get from there to here?  How did she become a woman who has tons of people reading her blog?  And of course, near and dear to my heart – how did she get started with photography?  So, all in all, a good book and it makes me want to spend more time on her blog.

Finally, the last book I wanted to talk about is A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.  This is a YA book that came highly recommended.  If you’ve been reading the blog or my tweets, you probably saw me carting this book to and from my root canal appointments.

This book was so good.  And I had to laugh because my last book review post talked about learning new words – and this book had chapter titles of the main character’s word of the day.  She’d look up a word in the dictionary every day and then try to incorporate it into a conversation.  Many of the words were totally new to me…so it was fun to learn more new words while reading this engaging story.

There were parts of this book, though, that were difficult for me.  The book begins with a woman who has drowned.  Within the first few pages I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to read this book.  Having recently lost a friend this way, it conjured up those feelings of sadness and loss so clearly.  But, I continued on with the book and I was so glad that I did.  It brought up a lot of things that I’ve wrestled with in my own life- including finding your voice and following your path.  Very well-written and I look forward to reading more of Donnelly’s books.

So there you have it – my latest reviews.  I seem to save them up, don’t I?  And as for what I’m reading now?  The second Sookie Stackhouse book – Living Dead in Dallas.  I like mixin’ it up.

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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.

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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…

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Deep Ellum Photowalk

A couple of weekends ago, a friend and I met down in Deep Ellum for a photowalk.  It was a good chance for me to practice a bit with my camera, enjoy her company, and get in some exercise.  Win-win-win! 

I was really looking forward to shooting down in this area of town because I’d missed out when the photo club had done this the weekend before.  Back in my high school and college days I spent a fair amount of time in Deep Ellum, and it has changed a lot over the years.  But it was, as always, full of interesting things. 

We were faced with a rather grey and chilly morning, but I was really pleased with the shots I got anyway.  I had a bit of fun with some of my images in post-processing too.  It’s another photo overload post, but I love those kinds of posts.  So, I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.

This was one of my favorite shots of the day because it made me laugh.  Hard to read, but the sign in the window says “Hippies Use Side Door”.  And let me just say for the record, I was basically flat on the ground to get this shot.  Glad no one was behind me with a camera.

We’re hoping to get together for more photos-about-town walks.  I’m really looking forward to that.

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More Artful Readings

Time for more book reviews.  I am seriously shocked that I’ve finished three books so far this year, and it’s still January!  Of course, two of them were started last year, but still.   First up is The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber.  This was the selection for the Artful Readings book club I belong to for January.  As soon as I finished City of Bones, I picked this one up (plus I had like only a week before book club, so I figured I’d better!).  This book was so good.  It was a quick read (I did read it in a week) and it kept my interest throughout.  It’s an interesting way to present the story.  The narrator receives a recording that is sent to him and it’s the recording that tells the story.  Chaz Wilmot is a painter who determines he must share his story, and so he records it for his old friend.  The book deals with the question of what is real and what it not – whether it be art (is it a forgery, and does the viewer get less fulfillment in looking at it if it is?), or whether it be memory (if one piece of your life that you believe to be real is proven to be imagined, then what about everything else you thought you knew to be true?).  The other thing I loved about the book was that it was about a painter, and painting as an art.  The descriptions of painting are so evocative, that you almost feel as if you are there with Velasquez, brush in hand, smelling the turpentine.  I highly recommend this book, it was truly enjoyable!

After finishing Forgery of Venus, I decided to pick up one of the past Artful Readings selections that I hadn’t finished.  I was about halfway through The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet when I picked it back up.  The story of a Dutch clerk working for the Dutch East India Company in Dejima, Japan in 1799.  This book really starts of with a bang, but then the next few chapters following the first are a bit hard to muddle through.  By the middle of the book, it has picked back up again and I think it was at that point I began to really enjoy it.  The interactions between the Dutch and the Japanese are so interesting, as well as the interactions between Jacob and Miss Aibagawa.  I loved that he painted a fan for her as a token of his feelings.  And her story that is the main focus of the middle of the book is stunning.  The ending was lovely and made me feel especially glad that I had decided to pick this one up again to finish it. Portions of it reminded me of Peony in Love (also an Artful Readings selection) and portions of it reminded me of The Handmaid’s Tale. Well worth a read.

It feels good to have finished both of these, especially Thousand Autumns, because that was one that had been hanging around awhile unfinished.  And we all know that finishing things is part of cutting down on the crazy!

I’ve now started my next book for Artful Readings – Parrot & Olivier in America.  Book club isn’t until March, so I’m hopeful I’ll get this one done with plenty of time to spare!

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Verge

Solitaire

It’s a strange limbo I’m in currently. After two years and fourteen days, I’ve finished my coursework at school. I’ve earned six certifications and am only waiting to hear from PMI to schedule my last one. So, I’m done but yet not done. It’s a weird place to be in. I feel some of the relief, but I don’t feel like I can embrace it completely. Perched on the cusp of freedom.

And it seems sort of surreal. I don’t have a grasp of what returning to regular life will be like, or more than a vague memory of what it was before.

Eric and I have been married four years, and I have been in school for half of that time. I know that while this was a necessary thing, I regret being away from my husband for that length of time. After awhile, the fourteen hour days start to wear on you, and those around you. I have made it through with only a handful of the friendships that I started out with too, which pains me.

Being at this place means that I have the opportunity to take a look at my priorities and refocus in those areas that have been lacking attention and energy – particularly those precious relationships that fill my heart. I hope it means I won’t be such a bitch all the time either. That may, however, be inherent.

Being on the verge of something more has also, surprisingly, led to a reawakening of my creative self – a self I thought was long buried. I find my thoughts turning to ideas for writing – poetry, stories, novels. In the last two weeks, I’ve also thought about opening myself back up to art. Art is always a constant in my life, but creating it is something that I haven’t felt compelled to do in years. Shortly after we got married, Eric encouraged me to get out my paints, my easel, my charcoal and sketch pads. He wants to make sure I don’t lose that part of me that is so important to who I am. A large portion of my authentic self. In the past couple of weeks, thoughts of painting and drawing have flitted across my consciousness, but the itch to actually pick up a brush and lay down paint blobs is getting harder to ignore.

I am holding myself back, for now, keeping myself partially restrained because it’s not quite time…I’m not quite done. But, when it is time I hope to explore who I am now, who I’ve become and what that means to my art and my voice.

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Four Years

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Each year, the beginning of spring brings with it Easter, warmer weather, everything blooming and mine and Eric’s wedding anniversary. This year marks our fourth anniversary, and according to the list of traditional anniversaries the fourth anniversary is the fruit and flowers anniversary. I’ve attempted to find a gift for Eric each year that holds with that traditional list. For our first anniversary, I made Eric a photo book of our honeymoon (paper). He took the most amazing photos of Rome, that I felt I needed to do something special with them. For our second anniversary, I presented him with our wedding quilt (cotton). It was made out of the blocks we had our wedding guests sign instead of a guest book. And last year, for our third, I gave him a leather-bound Family History book (leather) that I look forward to filling with him. He’s been researching his family’s genealogy since we got married, and I felt it was important for us to begin writing our own history to add to it.

So, what to do for fruit & flowers? I finally opted to purchase something for our home. We’ve recently been reworking our living room and have finally branched out from decorating our home with something more than just the amazing travel photos Eric has taken on our adventures. We both have a love of maps (we even purchased two in the Bahamas which is where he proposed). When I saw this beautiful hand-tinted map, I thought it would be perfect not only for the fourth anniversary, but also as something for our home. Something we could appreciate and enjoy every day, just like each other.

Map of Cuba

And to carry on with our fourth year theme, Eric made dinner reservations for us on Saturday night at Hibiscus. The food was absolutely amazing, and we had such a wonderful evening together. We talked quite a bit about our honeymoon in Rome and wanting to return there someday.

Here’s what we ordered:

Appetizer

Domestic Farmstead Cheeseboard

(with Quince Jam, Local Honey and Sourdough Crostini)

Salad

Burrata & Tomato

(Burrata Mozzarella, marinated red & yellow tomatoes with EVOO)

Entree

Me: 9 oz Prime Tenderloin

(Brown butter asparagus)

Eric: Roasted Liberty Farms Duck Breast

(Grilled sweet corn and bing cherry sauce)

Dessert

Panna Cotta Crisp

We also had drinks with our appetizer and then some exquisite wine with our salads and dinner. Everything was heavenly, and while I hear the deep dish macaroni and cheese is the best, I was very happy with everything I ordered. It was a special treat and one I’m so thankful for.
And Eric bought me a little something I’ve been wanting for awhile…

Nine

We had such a lovely anniversary, and I can hardly believe four years have gone by. We still get anniversary cards from many of the sweet friends and family that attended our wedding. Our wedding must be a sweet remembrance for them as well, which really makes me smile.

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