December in Photos

December in Photos

 

December was a very emotional month, full of equal parts joy and sadness.  There was a lot of stuff going on that resulted in a lot of stress, upset, etc. in my world.  So I felt a bit like I was balanced on a razor’s edge throughout the holidays.  But, there was definitely a lot of good stuff in December.

Over the months leading up to the holidays, Eric and I spent some time doing some home improvement and a little bit of decorating.  We really wanted to have some things “done” before we had guests over for our holiday party.  One of the big things we did was buy two rugs.  We bought one for the living room back in October, you may remember, and you can see it in the photo of our dessert table.  At the beginning of December, our second rug arrived for the kitchen.  It took us a long time to finally find something we loved, and as you can see Thutmose loves it too!

We also got snow near the beginning of the month, and ice with it, so we were cozied up in the house for several days waiting for it to thaw out so that the roads were passable.  The ice storm put us a little behind in getting our tree, so we were rushing a bit to decorate this year.  Once all the decorating was done though, I always realize how happy the site of a decorated tree lit up makes me.  It’s amazing the transformation everything goes through at this time of year.  Magical!

I worked on some Christmas projects – one was a mystery stitching piece that a part was released each Sunday from Thanksgiving through December 10th or so.  It’s the little nativity scene you can see.  I loved working on it, and most especially I loved that each Sunday I was able to focus on a related Bible verse and really think about the season.  And I also bought the backing fabric for my Christmas quilt so that I could get it finished up.  Those hot cocoa cups just did me in.  So cute!  One of the things I do love about my time off around the holidays is getting to work on some of my crafty projects while I’m home.

We had our dessert party as usual, which was lots of fun.  Of course, I always love picking out recipes for treats I’m going to make so that each year it’s a little bit different.  I loved the vintage look of our Christmas cards too (Target!).  And Thut’s favorite napping spot was on the table with my Dickens Village.  He was so happy there, and every time we would see him, we’d comment that he was scaring the villagers.  So funny!

We took my niece to see the Trains at Northpark at the end of the month, our other annual tradition.  It included lunch at Pie Five and that chicken pesto pizza is to die for!

I also started and finished the last book in the Beautiful series on one decadent Saturday morning, had my very first macaron, and treated myself to a facial.  Such fun!  So, as I said, there were definitely some great moments of joy and peace during the last month of 2013.

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October in Photos

October in Photos 2

So….October.  Is it perhaps an indication of how the last few months have been that I’m just now posting about October?  October is always a crazy crazy month for us.  We see to try to cram in so much stuff in October it leaves my head spinning.  I think I still have photos from last year’s whirlwind October that need editing, or blogging, or…something.  This October was no exception to the rule – we kept it jam-packed, but were able to enjoy some fun things.  But, I know I’m playing catch up a bit with some of the things I intended to post last year – but I’m starting where I left off and my intention is to stay more in sync with my blogging because it’s important to me.

I started off October with a ton of excitement and inspiration.  I really want to take some time and try to capture what really hit me, and some of the things that spun out of that, but for now I’ll just focus on capturing the month itself.  One of the things that I tapped into was Lara Casey and her newsletter.  I’d been following her on Instagram for a little while, but I finally subscribed to her newsletter in October.  The theme for the month was Clear October.  She wrote in her newsletter about having a clear mind and really being intentional about the time before the holidays and the end of year craziness sets in.  It really struck a chord with me too – I wanted not only to have clear intentions and clear ideas about my plan for the remainder of the year, but it also meant a clear heart.  I’ve always been a firm believer that you have to make room in your life for what you want – if your life or your space or your heart doesn’t have the space to receive God’s gifts, how can you expect your prayers to be fulfilled?  In an effort to do my own clearing in October, I started off the month by cleaning off the white board in my office.  It literally took me about an hour.  There were notes and diagrams on there that had been there so long I could not get them erased and I had to scrub at the words to remove them.  My Instagram photo shows my clean and clear whiteboard – out with all the “junk” that no longer serves me and opening up a space to receive.

The rest of the month was, like I said, jam-packed with all sorts of things.  We went to the State Fair, as usual, and I finally got to see the Chinese Lantern Festival at night.  It was just as stunning as I’d imagined!  Plus we got to see the Kildares play, which is always fun.

I spent a good amount of time reading in October, particularly the Beautiful Bastard series by Christina Lauren.

I did some baking – pumpkin bread and then my very first Italian Cream Cake for Eric’s birthday.  We had amazing Thai food for his birthday dinner at one of our favorite local spots.

I finished up my memorial sampler for my dad at the end of September, and finally blogged about it over at my other blog.

I got a little “on the spot” award at work for the work I did on a project, and what better way to celebrate than with leopard pumps?  You can’t go wrong with leopard.

We did some projects around the house, including installing some shelves in our media room to contain some of the things that came from my mom’s house when my dad died.  We also bought a new rug and pouf for the living room.  I am so in love with this rug, it is not even funny.  My absolute dream rug – and Eric was won over by it too!

And we also spent some time with my niece in October.  As part of that whole idea behind making room in your life, we decided that we definitely needed to make some room in our lives to spend more time with her.  She came and spent the night with us, Eric made her pink pancakes for breakfast and we watched The Breakfast Club.  She loved it!  I also worked with her on designing her Halloween costume.  This year she went as Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas – and the dress I worked on tirelessly was a huge hit!

As usual, October was a great, busy month.  I’m looking forward to sharing November with you!

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August in Photos

August in Photos

I always feel that my birthday and then Labor Day signal the end of summer – marking the change from longer days and saturated color to cooler weather and wardrobe layering.  Even though I’m sure we’ll have many more 100 degree days in front of us, my thoughts immediately turn to the new season.  And judging by the number of Pumpkin Spice Latte pics I’m seeing on Instagram, I’m not alone in this.

August is, of course, my birthday month and it brought with it a much-needed vacation from work and time to get together with friends.  I’m still enjoying breaking out some statement jewelry pieces, which has been great fun.  I was also treated to some new nail polish, new (much needed) perfume, and a blow out.  I even made it to the gym again.

I finished reading City of Glass and moved right into City of Fallen Angels – both so good.  I’ll have a review of this series up soon.  One of my birthday outings was getting together with a friend to see the Mortal Instruments movie on opening night.  So good.  So much love for Jace.  Go see it if you haven’t yet.  I’m looking forward to reading the fifth book.

I also spent an afternoon with another friend and we met for lunch at Bluebonnet Bakery, which was absolutely delicious.  I had their famous chicken salad sandwich and then we both topped off our lunch with a slice of Italian Cream Cake.  To. Die. For.  I haven’t had Italian Cream Cake that good since last April!

For my birthday, Eric bought me new perfume.  As I’d mentioned on this post, I was in dire need of some new perfume.  I ended up with D&G Light Blue for a lighter, summery scent and Thierry Mugler’s Alien Essence Absolue for my deeper fall/winter scent.  I love them both!  He also took me out to dinner at Ziziki’s, which I just can’t stay away from for my birthday dinner.  Everything there is absolutely delicious.  I had the first glass of wine I’ve had in awhile, I can’t go wrong with a Riesling and this one was fabulous!

We also hit a milestone with Ramses and Thutmose.  We decided that they were finally old enough that our Moroccan pouf would be safe to put out again.  It has been locked away almost since we bought it, so it’s nice to actually have it out in the living room again.  If we can get to a place where the other kitty-proof measures can be done away with I’ll finally be able to share our living room redo.

August was a good month, and I had a wonderful vacation and birthday.  Exciting things are on the horizon for my new year!

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Things I Love Thursday: The Little Things

I’ve been remiss in my TILT posts, and of course, this one is late too – but better late than never!  I’ve been focusing lately on the little things that make me happy, and finding joy in the small stuff.  So this week, I thought I’d just share a little bit of what’s making me happy.

★  The book I’m reading

★  A three-day weekend (and the following four-day work week!)

★  Starting to put the finishing touches on our living room

★  Fashion Week

★  My Blue Moon Mani in honor of the blue moon last Friday

★  Watching Jurassic Park on tv

★  Rediscovering some things from my old apartment and looking through them

★  New collars for the kittens (who are now quite big!)

★  Thutmose standing on his hind legs in the kitchen window watching the birds

★  A harvest moon Saturday night

★  Refreshing my hair color

★  Friends that give me Day of the Dead skulls for my birthday

★  Setting up the DVR for the new fall shows

★  Learning how to make star bullets!

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Things I Love Thursday: Marrakesh Decor

Well, I’m a day late for my TILT post this week, but wanted to post anyway.  As I mentioned in my last post, there’s been some redecorating and rearranging going on at my house.  Well, I’ve always wanted to have a Moroccan-inspired living room, at least as long as I remember.  I even blogged about it in this post.  And we’ve made  a lot of changes to the living room since then, but nothing like the changes we’ve made in the last couple of weeks.

I’m really loving the way the room is coming together, and I can’t wait to show you the changes.  You can also see what the room looked like after its most recent “tweaking”.  You may see in that post that I was really pushing toward the Havana-look.  Ultimately, I’d really love a room that has a global feel – things collected from all over the world and incorporated into our design.  Which is one reason why we’re focusing a bit right now on the Moroccan pieces.  And for inspiration, I decided to order Maryam’s new book.  I absolutely love her blog and could not pass up all the inspiration she offers in this book.

The book arrived last night and I’ve already thumbed through it several times.  Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.  I can’t wait to sit down and read it cover to cover.  I love that there are also beautiful photos of her gorgeous Peacock Pavilions too!

I have the creativity and inspiration flowing right now, which is so exciting.  And I feel like one of the most-used rooms in my home is finally getting the facelift it’s been needing, which is making me happy happy.  Now we just need to pull in some other things from other cultures and I think we’ll be good.  I have some great pieces in storage that I think will help!

It’s been a really hard week to stay positive and be grateful, but always important to refocus on the good stuff.  So, here’s what I’ve been grateful for this week:

  • My book on Marrakesh as well as my books for book club arrived
  • Taking an afternoon off work
  • Sharing nail polish photos with friends
  • Ice Road Truckers – I love that show!
  • A delicious meal of butter chicken, naan, rice and mango juice that Eric made
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All Aglow

Our home has been decorated for the holidays, and it is nice to have a bit of “normal” right now, with my father so sick.  We won’t be holding our annual family gatherings this year due to his health.  So, Eric and I will just have a small, quiet Christmas with just the two of us.

Anyway, Eric decided last year that he really wanted lights on the wreath on the front door.  He found some great battery operated lights this year, and now our wreath has its own little bit of brightness.

Eric found a beautiful tree again this year.  I just love the smell of a real tree in the house.  I scaled back a lot on my ornaments this year though.  I wanted a more simple look on the tree.

Some of my favorite ornaments are our Swarovski annual ornaments.  I’ve been giving one to Eric each year since 2005.  They catch the light so beautifully.

And I decided to put out the Nutcrackers again this year on the mantel.  Eric saved the branches he had to cut off the tree at the bottom for me, and I used them on the mantel.  I love the way that looks.

The odd man out in the Nutcracker theme is this guy.  He was a gift to me from my parents when I was about nine or ten.  My parents used to take my sister and I to see the Nutcracker ballet every year at the holidays.  One year, before we went, they presented me with my very own Nutcracker.  You wouldn’t believe how much I cried with joy.  He’s looking a little worse for wear, and his hair and beard are looking a bit thin (they are rabbit fur).  But, I get such pleasure from having him out at Christmas.

We’ve received so many lovely cards from friends and family.  Unfortunately, this year I had to make the decision not to send out cards.  There has just been too much going on to get them done.  I hope everyone understands.

And our tree in the entry.  This is my “handmade” tree.  I hang handmade ornaments on this tree, along with some pretty red glass balls.  There’s a train around the base of this tree as well.

And my Dickens’ Village.  Eric made me a fabulous platform for my houses this year.  The table I set them up on has rather high sides, so it was getting difficult to make them all fit.  Eric made a platform to go over the top of the table and it worked out perfectly!  All the houses fit.  And several of these were gifts from my parents over the last few years, so I love seeing them out.

 

 

And yesterday, I managed to do all of my gift wrapping.  These were headed off to the Post Office to be mailed.

I hope you all have a lovely holiday and that it brings you much joy and happiness.  Thanks for stopping in to see me and I so appreciate all your sweet comments!

 

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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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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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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!!

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Another Week of Photos

Photos from 4/5/09 to 4/11/09…

Swallow

You may remember I mentioned this new necklace of mine in a previous post. I love it… and strangely enough, I’m loving this photo of me too!

Havana

About a month or so ago, my good friend Jennifer came and did a total redo on our living room. I need to gather together the before and after photos to show. One of the main things she did was arranging everything on the two bookshelves in this room. This is my favorite shelf…now dubbed the “Havana Shelf”.

With a Bang

I had to title this one “With a Bang”. I was enjoying a rare indulgence of one of my favorite things – Coke.

Dusk

A week or so prior to me taking this photograph, I was driving into school and saw a photographer shooting a model with this building in the background, about the same time of day. I’d have loved to shoot her as well, because she was gorgeous, but instead you just get the building.

White Coconut

And do I need I reason for this photo? It’s a white coconut…enough said.

Aphrodite

I love this one. We were going to dinner at Eric’s parents’ home and decided to bring a bottle of wine with us. This bottle is one of several that we purchased and had shipped home from a vineyard we visited in New York. This is a lovely dessert wine and I’m glad we have another bottle. What a wonderful reminder of our trip.

Easter Orchid

Eric bought this beautiful orchid for his mother for Easter. I loved the way it looked in the morning light through the kitchen window.

More 365 photos coming soon…

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