Where The Lone Star State Meets The Puget Sound
A Fine Mesh Of Two Great Styles

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Tasteful Chanticleer

I've been staying with my mom in her home in Green Valley, Arizona for the past week. Green Valley is an oasis in the Sonoran Desert; an unincorporated community located about 35 miles south of Tucson, Arizona.

I would describe my mother's lovely home as a soft vision of Tuscany.  It is an ideal mix of European traditional and stately Desert Southwest; with a little whimsy in the mix.  I am especially fond of her breakfast room.

She has the most wonderful {Pottery Barn} server.  It is small in scale and grand in color.  This is one of the most perfect reds!

My mom has carefully chosen the use of the rooster motif in this room.   They proudly embellish the table runner.

...and the upholstery on the breakfast room chairs. This is gorgeous fabric!

Here's a bit of whimsy~ love the chair backs, don't you?

Mom's colorful ceramic tableware is in my opinion the accent that pulls the entire room together.  Of course I'm coveting the woven placemats and am designing a scheme to sneak them home in my luggage.

I thoroughly enjoy my mom and her wonderfully gracious home and wish I were able to spend more time here.  I hope you have enjoyed these pictures; which are just a snapshot of her decor.  The pictures were brought to you by my IPhone.  Uh~ who goes on a vacation and remembers to pack everything but a camera?

Linking to Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life.

Just two more days of gloriously sunny weather and it's back to the Pacific Northwet.  It will be many months before I'm able to lounge outside in 75 degrees.

See you there~

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pillow Madness!

I have spent a little bit of time since the first of the year cleaning out and reorganizing the basement.  I have plastic bins full of potential sewing projects down there~ yardage, trims, and pillow forms.  Pillow forms~ what seems like a countless number.  I would open unmarked bins with great excitement, only to find more pillow forms!  All shapes, all sizes.

Are you wondering how I amassed such an inventory?  Well it's taken a few years actually, but each time I drop donations at the Goodwill store I take a quick look around.  If I see any seemingly quality pillows, regardless of the shape the fabric is in, I buy them just to get the form; especially if they happen to be on sale that day.

I recently challenged myself to master a sewing technique I saw on the blog, Freckled Laundry.  This, by the way, is one of my favorite blogs.  Anyway, I was determined to ruche a piece of fabric using elastic, and use it on a pillow I made with one of the many forms.  I also challenged myself to use as many pillow forms as the living room sofa and chairs would tastefully accommodate.

{Ruche~A ruffle or pleat of lace, muslin, or other fine fabric used for trimming women's garments.}

Here is the link, in case you would like to see the source of my challenge: Ruching Tutorial Freckled Laundry.  Jami can teach you so much better than I.
And here is my pillow~

And another look~

Super-love this shirting flannel with a hound's tooth pattern that I bought on close out at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I bought all they had and I wish I could have gotten more.

I also went crazy with burlap pillows with my trademark white burlap roses.

I made 4 of the burlap pillows with three rosettes per pillow!  Making 12 rosettes in one sitting got a little repetitive, even a tad boring, so I watched a CSI: New York marathon while I worked.  I have such an affinity for burlap pillows that I decided to give one of the pillows to a special young friend. She has just recently moved into her first post-college apartment.  I'm not sure whether we have coincident decorating taste but I decided I couldn't go wrong with a pillow in shades of neutral.

The chocolate brown sofa cover was a gift from Larry this past fall.  It is covering an IKEA sofa I serendipitously snagged from a garage sale.  The sofa cover was in horrible condition but the sofa itself was perfect and so worth the $50 asking price.  Curiously, this very sofa, Ektorp, had just been featured on the most elegant blog,  Cote de Texas .   It surprised me so that an upscale interior designer would write about an IKEA sofa.  And suddenly, to my delight, I stumbled upon the Ektorp a few days later.  I must admit to loving my sofa all the more because it was spotlighted on such a gracious and gorgeous blog.

However, the sofa was lacking dimension and clearly needed embellishment.  Wool plaid pillows to the rescue!  I found this remnant of wool at a local philanthropic thrift store quite some time ago.  But it is just another great find that I had forgotten all about until last week when I was rummaging around the basement.  I am so pleased with the textural  combinations at now at work on the sofa.  I have mentioned before that I use a variety of deep reds in my house and the autumn hues in the plaid really pull the living room together.

Today I finished my final living room pillow. Well, is anything ever final?  But I've made seven pillows since my resolve to ruche and I am very proud of myself.  All seven are even hand stitched closed and sittin' pretty.

So proud am I that I am linking to these parties in the days coming up~

 Air Your Laundry Friday  at Freckled Laundry

Feathered Nest Friday  at French Country Cottage

Metamorphosis Monday  at Between Naps on the Porch

Show Off Your Cottage Monday  at House in the Roses 

Grab a cup of coffee and do a little blog hopping.  There is so much inspiration on stage there.

Thanks so much for dropping by.  The National Weather Service claims the snow will be gone by tomorrow night so visiting will be easier than ever.

Warm winter wishes until we meet again!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Adjusting the Focus

I am a woman that has a hard time staying 'on task'~ seriously.  I rarely go from a figurative point A to point B without one or more detours.  Let me give you an example.  I have very high maintenance hair, thus a very time intensive morning routine. What that means is that I wash and blow my hair dry every single day.  This has been my daily habit since my mother stopped putting it in pin curls each night before bed (and that was a very long time ago).

Why is it that if I have a morning appointment, let's say 9ish, I have to set my alarm for 6:00, even if the appointment is only in town; 8 miles from home?  And even with three hours to prep, why am I rarely on time?  The answer is that I am so easily distracted.  I get in and out of the shower in a timely way but beyond that I can't seem to keep moving in the same direction.  I'm just not terribly sequential-- Like a perennial in my garden, I never stay planted in one spot for very long.

I will provide an illustration.  I can't dry my hair without a cup of coffee.  So I take a break to brew a second cup.  While I'm waiting for the coffee to brew I remember something I've been wanting to search on Google; most likely something trivial.  I head for the computer.  But while en route something catches my eye that needs attention.  I once again change direction.  Finally, coffee in hand, I  head back to the bathroom vanity with a renewed commitment to my hair.  But wait!  I suddenly remember the aborted Google search!  And away I go.  By the time I finely pick up my blow dryer, my hair is so dry I have to wet it again!  Do you catch my drift?  Or should I ask, do you see how prone I am to drift?

On February 12th I am hostessing a baby shower for quite a large number of women from my church.  One of our younger moms is expecting her fourth child.  Yikes!  As you know, I am a mother of one.

Anyway, on yesterday's to-do list was to make Save The Date cards to distribute to each lady attending church this morning.  I had a busy day and so my project was delayed until after dinner.  All day I had been thinking about my circuitousness; about how easily I am 'called away'.  I decided to practice being different-- to work at better focus.

Here is a pictorial step-by-step of my effort~

First I formatted my invitation using Word. I actually formatted 4 invitations per 8.5 X 11 page.
By doing this I was able to get 4 invitations per sheet of card stock.

I printed them all out without leaving the room even once.  And then I cut them out~ all of them!

You see, my normal MO would be to cut a few, punch a few holes, tie a few bows, cut a few more... in a very inefficient manner.  I would probably have left the crafts table a few times in the process as well; to chat with Larry, get a drink of water, check out Facebook, whatever.  If you can imagine some lively circus music playing at this point, you will understand the speed at which the carousel in my mind normally spins.  But last night? I made myself stay seated.


I cut all the ribbon without a pause.

And then punched all of the holes! Without leaving the room. 
P*R*O*G*R*E*S*S !

And finally I embellished each card with a pretty bow~

OK, so I stayed on track.  I took a baby step.  But I will tell you, this change is going to take some practice.  Old habits truly die hard.  I've been wondering though.  How essential is it that I change?  I mean our uniqueness, our essence, is made up of many traits; or perhaps quirks; pixels if you will.  Could there be  something about the way I approach projects that positively impacts the outcome?

Maybe some folks travel life with great success on a very straight path and maybe others, like I, tend to zig-zag.  After all, life isn't about the destination, right?  Maybe the fun is in the getting there.  And I really do have fun.

Well, I successfully completed my Save-The-Date cards and I even remembered to take them with me this morning (that in and of itself is worth celebrating).  And I must say, they were a huge hit among the ladies at church.

Well, many thanks for reading through my ramblings.  I hope I've given you a few fun things to ponder.  I have many fun baby shower ideas competing for time in my head.  I plan to share more of them with you as I directly or not-so-directly proceed through the party preparations.

Until Next Time~


Linking to Made By You Monday at Skip to My Lou and Make it Monday at Brassy Apple.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Unintended Consequences

Remember this~

I've already boasted that I have Christmas all neatly packed away.  But what I didn't tell you is that I had a huge, "oooops" in the process of undecorating.  My beloved magnolia painting, an estate sale score, fell off the mantel. Ouch!  It's my fault, really.  I never bothered to fasten it to the wall because I liked the casual (albeit transient) "leaning" look.  That is to say, the painting was only leaning against the wall.

It goes without saying that Larry, the puppy, and I were all greatly startled by this event.  It was reminiscent of the earthquakes we lived through in Los Angeles.  One casualty of the fall was a Waterford crystal hurricane.  If you look closely at the above picture you can see that I used to have two.  And something that saddens me even more, though the dollar loss is not as significant, is this footed bowl (pictured below)~

Hey, when I break something, I do it in a big way.  My bowl was planted with paperwhite bulbs and it was perched on the hearth below, sadly, in the path of the falling hurricane candle.  So when the crystal shade fell from the mantel, it torpedoed the bowl of paperwhites.  The bowl took a direct hit and the crystal was shattered.  (We are still sweeping up shards of glass and neither of us dare to walk through the living room without shoes.) Waaaah!  I love this bowl.  OK, it may be from Target, but I still love it.

Well, out with the old, in with the new.  A mantel makeover was in order.  The big-bad magnolias were banished to our bedroom~ where they actually look very beautifully at home.  And in its place is a stunning panoramic photograph of a cascading mountain stream.  And yes, it's hanging securely on two picture hooks.  It was taken by a good friend of ours, David Engle.  His work is of local renown in Los Angeles area galleries.

I encourage you to visit David Engle Photography.  David's creative eye is remarkable.  David is among the best of the best in the arena of landscape photographers, and we are so blessed to have two of his panoramas gracing our home~ hand-signed no less!

The panorama obviously anchors the mantel-scape. To further frame the photo I brought out a few other things that I enjoy as focal points.  As I've mentioned, my decor always drifts towards the autumn shades.  I never think I'm making a conscious decision to use the golden hues and deep reds.  It just happens.  Shall I get a bumper sticker that says, Autumn Happens ? Well, perhaps not.

Here's another view~

Cool, huh?  And look!  My footed bowl is sittin' pretty.  I just couldn't bring myself to throw her away, so I just turned her other cheek (or something like that).  From my present vantage point on the sofa, you cannot even tell that the bowl was ever damaged.

How fortunate that there is a fleur de lis on each side of the bowl! I am considering filling the bowl with small-sized containers of ivy and an abundance of Spanish moss. The ivy will grow in indirect light and nicely camouflage the damage.  Well, that's for another day and another post.

I especially like my aged, red books.  These two are from a bound collection of Winston Churchill's World War II letters.  Upon our son's departure after Christmas, I found that my other two had mysteriously disappeared.  Hmmmm. Well, I was lucky enough to have bought the books for $.50 apiece! These shades of red compliment the panorama nicely and really highlight all the reds in the photo.

Lastly, I would like to showcase my tower of nesting boxes.  I got the set years ago at Bombay Company.  Remember that store?  I loved shopping there, especially in the 'scratch and dent' section.  One of my boxes actually has a discolored lid, so I paid a greatly reduced price.

How stately! I like the height of the tower because it adds balance to the generously proportioned bowl on the other end of the mantel.

Thanks for visiting today.  How are you spending the second Monday of this new year?  You might check out Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.  And tomorrow I will be linking up with A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday.  I hope you clear some time in your Tuesday agenda to wander over to Marty's. There is always so much loveliness happening in the blog world!

Blessings on your day~


Dallas, the face of Northwest Texas



Monday, January 2, 2012

Thoughts Of Joy

I have been forcing paperwhites for many years and this is the first time they have failed to bloom before Christmas.  I have not given up hope!  They are forming buds and I should have blossoms by next week.  It's sort of a post-Christmas surprise to help beat January blues. 

Almost 15 plastic bins full of Christmas decor neatly packed and stored away for next year~ Yay! All vestiges of Christmas are now out of sight; except for the Joy banner.  I felt like keeping it around awhile longer as a reminder of how blessed my life is.   I have been pondering the notion of joy today {New Year's Day}  I've been thinking about the concept of joy versus fun or even happiness. 

I am certainly not a philosopher but it seems to me that joy is a deep and abiding emotion.  It is not fleeting nor anecdotal.  It is not superficial nor synonymous with instant gratification.

According to Meriam Webster,  joy is defined as, the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desiresIs it heresy to argue with a dictionary? Because I strongly disagree with this definition.

If asked the question, "What brings you joy?", what would your answer be? Probably not something materialistic or expendable, right? More likely your answer would involve something animate or alive, because in my experience true joy is almost always rooted in relationship; be it spiritual, family, friends, pets, or even a profound encounter with the natural world (ask any avid gardener about this).

So late this afternoon I had the good idea, though last minute, to set a special table for Larry and me as we start yet another joyful year together. I gathered things that are of special sentiment to us~ his mother's china for one.  I was lucky to have been given all 12 place settings plus every serving piece you can imagine. 

I used an old mattelasse bed coverlet as a tablecloth.  I love its pure-white essence and the texture it adds to the table.

I embellished the napkins with some gold ribbon and tucked in a favorite picture. Yes, I was once a brunette!

The wine goblets have been with us for our entire 30 years of marriage; we picked them out together when we became engaged. We bought the salt and pepper shakers at the Smithsonian Museum in some decade gone by. It's hard to believe that after 7 houses, most of which were complete makeovers, this salt and pepper duo is still gracing our table.

Larry bought this brass flatware with rosewood handles in Thailand long before I was in the picture.  He gave the set to me when we got married.  It was such a sweet gesture and it still warms me to think about it.  And oh my goodness, what a set it is! Dinner forks, salad forks, soup spoons, tea spoons, large knives, appetizer knives, salad tongs... get the picture?

As an extra touch I found Scripture to support my concept of joy.  After printing, I mounted them on pretty paper as an accent for our place settings.  An alternate idea would be to find some lovely poetry. Google to the rescue! If you really want to add a little romance to your dinner table, wander over here~ Love Sonnets.

2011 was a tough year for me. I lost my dear friend, I lost my dog, and hardest of all, I lost my dad. I had a host of health challenges and a myriad of clinical tests. But it was also a year of blessings, as each year seems to be. I have come to believe that there is joy to be had, even when good fortune seems to be beyond our grasp.  I have resolved in this new year to let joy guide my days, come what may.  I hope you will join me in this endeavor.

Blessings to each of you in 2012!


I am joining Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday. Enjoy!