15 May 2015

Concrete Dipped Lamp from Habitat For Humanity ReSale Store

On my list of fantasy design activities for some time has been a visit to a Habitat For Humanity ReSale store. I never got there when I lived in LA but I didn't need stuff and it was a fairly good drive away. So when a new city came into the picture I took the opportunity to visit the Habitat store here on one of my first weekends here alone. That's where I found this great concrete dipped lamp. It guess it's not really dipped but that's the best way to describe the look.

When it was time to style it up I tried two distinctly differently looks and while I am pretty sure I am sold on the white one, the second option always excited me when I see it. Here's look one: white shade.

I like the simplicity of color with the added dimension of texture in the shade. I think this is my favorite look but there's one challenge and that is that the super white shade makes me want to paint the white on the concrete to a brighter, shinier white. And it just so happens that I do have a can of spray paint in just that shade. I'm torn between the worn look of the white paint and then part of me wants to clean and crisp it up.

Here's look two, totally ikat.

My big mistake with this shade was not buying two of them when I had a chance. I had the chance to do that, while they were on clearance and I didn't do it. Based on responses from the family I think two of these would've given me a lot of options for any room in the house on two matching lamps.. But I have the one and I do love it. So I'll enjoy what I've got.

So do you have a favorite?Would you paint it or leave it's lovely imperfections? Make a vote in the comments. Ah, I just checked the Target website and guess what, they have more of those ikat lamp shades on clearance....hmmm. This presents a dilemma.

image by kalanicut

13 May 2015

Decorating My Office Part Four: Great Finds

Things are starting to come together with decorating my new office, but I will admit it has been a long project of hits and misses. I guess it makes sense that it will take some trial and error to get it all together a design project in a way that feels right.

I'm glad I've been taking my time on this project because it's amazing how it keeps coming together in better ways than I imagined, bit by bit. I'm definitely one who can't get set up an entire room in a day.  You'll remember the beautiful pillows I ordered. Here's a quick update on them.

images via Etsy

These gorgeous pillows were something I hunted for a good while for. I wanted to find some Southwest-inspired textiles to bring onto the scene. I found them on Etsy at the shop Turkish Kilim Rug. I purchased them anticipating that if they were going to be shipped form Turkey, it would take a couple of weeks. They arrived two days after they were shipped from Turkey. Amazing, crazy fast.

These have been sitting in my room at home since I got them needing inserts. I made a goal to get them ordered finally this week. I have found quite a few good deals on down pillow inserts online but haven't pulled the trigger yet. I want to find something very soft and smushy so these pillows don't feel rock hard. With the heaviness of the rug fabric on these they could get very hard and stiff easily. Hopefully a good soft insert will keep them pliable and lovely.

I ordered these before I was sure what I would do to cover the seat of the settee, but last week I happened to make a very fortuitous stop at HomeGoods and founds a couple of items for my office that totally blew my mind, one of which is the perfect seat cover. I will share those soon in a round up once I get some photos.

There are some other great things going on. This is a rather blurry before shot. After taking down the cork squares off the wall there was some damage because they had been attached with foam tape. They were falling down and falling apart but the foam tape ripped up the paint on the wall despite how careful I tried to be.

I was lucky enough to get a beautifully repaired wall last week and I was quite surprised. I imagined I would gladly cover the spots if I could get some paint. When I inquired about the paint for patching and then left for a meeting, I came back to see the job already in motion. What a treat. It is amazing how much better it looks now - and a bonus was that the rest of the room got a little touching up too.

The bookcase has been organized and rearranged. Here's a before of the bookcase including a comical collection of old logo-ed shirt, art, and piles of potentially needed paper. You can also see a vinyl orchid wall decoration and a couple of miscellaneous vases.

I will share the bookcase update soon. All the papers and binders are better organized. Here's a quick look at the top of the bookcase now after considerable picking off of tiny bits of vinyl. That's a stack of California beach rocks below the shelf. Apologies for the terrible lighting and blurriness. I will take my good camera into the office next week for more photos.

As of now, the bookcase and desk remain in their original positions. The settee and table have been moved to the left side of the desk tucked at an angle in the corner and are looking quite nice. For now along the wall where the cork boards were is the work table and two chairs.

Another great find I'll share soon is a little project with a cast-iron horse. When I found him he was apple green. Not very attractive but he is in the process of becoming a pretty white that will go with the other white accents throughout my office. I'm still not sure where is is going to go, but I'll figure that out. Maybe on the coffee table.

I know there are a few things in storage that I can use in my office as well, but unfortunately I can't get access to most of that stuff until we move it into a house. Rats. Despite the fact that I've talked about so many different items for my office, it is still pretty bare and simple/ There are several surfaces that need a little styling.

I will tell you about what I'm going to do along the long wall where the cork board squares were next. I had several ideas then I had a little idea and then found something even better. Funny how that happens all the time.

11 May 2015

Summer Sandals: Birkenstock Mayari

image via Zappos

I've been on the hunt for a pair of high quality flip flops for some time now. After rejecting multiple $50-60 flip flop options, I happened to come across a pair of Birkenstock Mayari in my size at a local shoe store. I decided pretty quickly that this was the way to go and only about $30 more than those expensive rubber flip flops.

My last pair of Birks lasted me about 15 years and pretty much finally fell apart this winter when I wore them through many days of packing to move. I have always found that after a long hard day, an hour in a pair of Birks puts tired feet and body back into their proper alignment and makes such a incredible difference in one's energy.

I was happy to kill two birds with one stone on this purchase and I am thinking about picking up another pair of Birkenstocks in another style for the summer. These are definitely a fantastic choice  and I've been wearing them with maxi skirts, midi skirts, yoga pants, jeans and for Casual Friday at the office. Plus they're slim and great to tuck into the bag to swap in and out of high heels when one needs to hustle from a hotel to a convention center.

I love that Birkenstock sandals are as cool as ever and I'm so glad I didn't buy a pair of flip flops that I really didn't like in the first place. These cost about the same as a pair of those very expensive flip flops that start with "Olu" and end with "kai". I bought two pairs of those a few summers ago and after a little wear the leather soles with stiching were so slipper and the stitching was so painful on the feet. I need to stick with what I know works.

If you've never owned a pair of Birkenstocks before, know they are a little bit stiff at first until your feet and the shoe get to know each other a bit. But it doesn't take long until they fit like a glove. If you're interested in a pair, shop the internet and look for sale prices. You can often find great deals on a variety of strap materials and color compositions. Find something you like and love them.

I don't think this pair will last me 15 years, because they are going to get a lot of wear. But I know I won't be chucking them at the end of the summer or mid-way through the summer like I so often do with cheap and expensive flip flops. Thanks Birkenstock for your generations of high quality footwear.

08 May 2015

Decorating My Office: Part Two - Settee Pillows

Editors Note: Just realized I never posted this second update in mid-March on my office decor project. So I'm posting it now and I will very quickly have another update, because things, happily, have been happening.

I mentioned in Decorating My Office: Part One that my next project would be upstyling the little settee in my office. (You can get a peek at the settee here.) It needed a little help. It's faux leather and with all the detailing across the top it doesn't look too bad. But the seat is very plastic-y looking with big flat panels of the faux-ness. So for now I've found a pretty little fuschsia and creamy white diamond stamped rug that covers the seat up nicely.
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It really gave the setee new life, but it doesn't cover it quite enough to where I can tuck it in and not have it slip-sliding around all the time. I'd love it if it was big enough that it could be wrapped around the seat and secured firmly. It's just a few inches too short for that, darn it.

Before I found the little rug, I bought two pillows that I thought would accent the sofa nicely. Uellow with a beaded Southwest inspired diamond pattern across the fronts. But they were just about an inch two big for both of the oblong pillows to fit and using just one didn't look right either. So those two pillows migrated over to the two chairs that go with the round table on the other side of the room - and soon thereafter headed back to the store to be returned.

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After a trip to a couple of thrift stores and Habitat for Humanity ReSale store here, I'm thinking strongly about finding two chairs that I can get reupholstered to replace the standard office chairs. We'll see how that venture goes in the coming weeks. I did find two that seemed perfect that were only about five dollars each, but I could see they would be too short for my table so I had to give up on that idea.

Anyway, I'm still thinking about how to cover that seat. In the meantime I started looking for pillows that might be great accent pieces for the office. My goal with the office was to go "Southwest/Modern" so I've been taking notes and mulling ideas for a while now. After having no luck finding any pillows that captured my Southwest/Modern vibe in stores locally I started searching on Pinterest and found a link to the Etsy Shop Turkish Kilim Rug.

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There I found a fantastic selection of pillows and rugs. Realizing this shop was actually in the country of Turkey, I was a little hesitant to even consider buying something from so far away. But then I started reading the reviews and it sounded quite reputable.

So, in the middle of the night, while watching QVC for entertainment purposes, home alone -- I bought five of them! I feared I was being caught up in a crazy middle of the night whim but part of me felt very sure these were my pillows and that they would set the color scheme for my office perfectly.

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These were a bit of a splurge, but happily the next morning I felt even more sure and every time I looked at photos of my purchases and I was even more certain that I had found what I was looking for. I bought two of the striped pillows to match, hoping that they'll be a grounding point for the other three non-matching pillows. We'll see how it goes when they get there. But I'm definitely happy that I was adventurous and took the chance to find something I really love. I'll report back when they arrive, which should be pretty soon.

Once they come in I'll have to update my seat cover for the settee. I'm not sure what I'll do just yet, but I know I'll find the right thing, once I have the pillows in place. Now I just need to get my art project done for the wall that is seen when you first walk into my office. Then I have to fix up the big wall in front of my desk. Fun stuff!

*As mentioned this post is now a bit outdated and a new update will be posted shortly. But I will say I still LOVE the pillows and am happy to have found, after a few tries, what I think is the final solution for the sofa that seems more perfect that I could've hoped. Lots of updates.

all images via Etsy Shop Turkish Kilim Rug

06 May 2015

The Challenge Of Feeling Safe

When I was young I was under the impression that when a person reached about 30 maybe 35, after having spent a reasonable amount of time in the adult world,  they magically had everything figured out. Life became more of an autopilot situation now that they were mature enough to have learned how everything worked.

Sadly when I got to the world of adulthood and had spend a reasonable amount of time there I realized this was anything but the case. Then I looked at my friends in their 50s and 60s and thought, "Well, they have it figured out. They are pretty wise."

But then as I enjoyed a wonderful friendship with a grand mentor who was about 60 years old, I realized she had more things to worry and stress about that I had at my age. By that time she has long had a husband to worry about and then she added children then grandchildren. That was a lot of people to care for and worry about. Not that she was a big worrier but when you have so many people under your hen wings, that's a lot of directions where sadness, pain and suffering can come from.

Sometimes it's the hard-headedness of one's spouse or the decisions of their children. Other times it is sickness and death.  Jobs are lost, wars come and go, financial downturns seems to come from nowhere.

And when we're young we have so little experience with the broad spectrum of life's pains that we live in ignorant bliss. Now as I continue to get older, more and more of life's pains and sufferings have touched people I love, my family and friends - and me. Women and men I know have lost children and spouses, sometimes even suddenly without warning. I've watched people lose their homes, lose contact with their kids, suffer broken hearts and broken souls.

Our little family has suffered our own struggles and heartbreaks and it seems the more one gets acquainted with these pains of life, the less safe one feels. I think the great sadness of aging is that you learn that nothing is safe and yet you grow to the position where despite knowing this, you end up in the shoes of being the one to be the shelter and safety for all those that come behind you.

Despite all the terrible things you've seen in the world, you sing a peaceful lullaby to your little one and tell them repeatedly that "everything will be okay". You continue to say "Be safe out there" despite the fact that you know it is not always safe out there. You say "See you tonight" knowing that there are others whose loved ones will not come home that day.

And how do we live on in such a world? I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Not in a sad, morbid way, but asking myself how will I find joy in life and continue down this path, knowing more and more of life's sadnesses. I suppose part of it has to be with closely acquainting oneself with life's joys, great and small. Yet, that does not seem enough. One must make peace with loss, grief and sadness.

I guess I do that, perhaps even on a daily basis, but it's been on my mind. Perhaps I find peace in Christ's atonement, that it heals me and the world from the pains. But my mind still toys with the daily realities. What will life be like when my parents are no longer here and I can't call home when things go badly? How will I feel when I am too old to live alone or can't walk on my own? How am I going to find grace in these things? I hope there is enough grace to fill in all that void.

How do we get up and keep going. How do we wake up again in the morning and continue to march forward. There must be something biological in it, that like animals woken from hibernation, draws us from our beds, from loss, from sadness and brings us back into the sun to shine another day.

I do know that I want to walk this path in grace and wisdom. I don't want to lose, I don't want to suffer, I don't want to grieve. Surely I've done plenty of it for lost loved ones, lost opportunities, lost hopes and dreams. But life is tests and trials along with the joys and beautiful sunrises. 

I've been feeling like life is very tender lately. Perhaps it is all the traveling and being in different, far off places for so many nights lately. Maybe it's because I have been away from my most important people and so many dear friends. It could be due to the fact that we am not fully settled in the new life still after a few months.

Somehow I am certain that all this emotion comes from feeling deep gratitude for all that I have. I am having a lot of  impactful opportunities to really appreciate my life, family, friends, career and opportunities so much in this moment.

Do you think about these things? What do you do when you feel the tenderness and fragility of life so frequently welling up in your throat. I'm not sad, or down. Not upset, depressed or fretting. I'm just thinking about how precious life is on a pretty regular basis lately. What do you do when you are in such a phase? I assume it will pass in some way soon which will be a bit of a relief. All this love and gratitude is a little heavy to bear sometimes. (big, warm, love-filled smile).

04 May 2015

CB2 & Southwest Modern 70s Style

When I think about how I want my decor style to change now that we're making the transition from beachy Los Angeles to the high desert Southwest I often think of Emily Henderson's show Secrets of a Stylist. She would take the differing styles of each member of a couple and then merge it into one style that would work for both. I think we've come up with just such a style for our life in the Southwest. It's Southwest/70s Modern

Imagine this post is you and me sitting together looking through a catalog and talking. I'm not saying much about the pieces seen here but just the look is what really inspires. I don't know that you need me here saying, "I really like this because, blah, blah, blah." Right?

So let's talk about the house hunt. We are definitely interested in an older home for a variety of reasons. First of which is that all the newer homes have postage stamp size yards and are jammed into a couple of acres like rushhour on an LA freeway. Not what we want after leaving that jam-packed city. Older homes of course always require some sort of restoration, even if some of it has been redone. There is always something that could fall apart at any moment or needs dire attention. So there's always a bit of nail-biting there too.

This spring it seems like all the shops are stuffed to the gills with beach and sealife motifs. Even here in the Southwest there is way too much of the stuff. If I were still in CA I'd be gathering armloads of the these things because a lot of it is pretty fantastic, but I made a pact with myself that I wasn't going to pretend to live a the beach in the mountain desert. All my beachy stuff is in storage and I'm not quite sure what I'll do with it. Some of it I'm sure can be repurposed but there are some items I will probably just leave in a storage closet for a while. I can't think of anything that I absolutely can't use again but it will all be different in a new setting. And I definitely can't justify buying more beach decor.

So my eyes have been trained on getting to know Southwest style better and finding my place in it. Like any style too much of a good thing can get pretty kitschy. I saw a house for sale here a few weeks ago that was so overboard with Southwest decor that it honestly looked like the Pirates of the Carribean ride sets at Disneyland. Stuff hanging everywhere. It was the perfect example of a good thing in excess gone wrong. Every surface was tagged with some Southwest motif. It was kind of sad actually because there were a lot of elements which on their own were pretty cool.

There are no shortage of homes with pure Southwest architecture here and I do have a fondness for them as long as it's not taken too far. I have learned that I am not a big fan of curved archways or windows with semi-circle tops. We've looked at a few one-story traditional Southwest style homes and I'm all for them as long as they have a modern, square-ish touch to them. But inside we will need a nice mix or clean modern and just a touch of the southwest.

CB2: Applique Blues 16" Pillow

One of the elements I really love are polished brick floors and I've seen some pretty brick wall fireplaces that I really like too. One of the homes we looked at had herringbone patterned brick floors and it was so beautiful. This was in my favorite interior of a house we've looked at and it still has my heart. It's pure 70s with a touch of Southwest.

So when I began thinking about developing a post about Southwest Modern 70s style, I started by finding the butterfly chair on CB2 and then intended to branch out to other shops for more options. But then I just kept finding more and more on the CB2 site that really caught my eye and did a fantastic job encapsulating my vision of Southwest Modern 70s. So I am sharing a whole roomful of options from CB2. Love ya, CB2.

This lamp reminds me that I need to share with you the concrete lamp I got a few weeks ago. Now that I've gotten my computer all properly set up so I can download photos my world has opened up again for blogging and photos. Lots and lots of stuff to share with you!

A nice, mellow throw to round out the room. This is just a taste of my vibe on Southwest Modern 70s Style. I'll be sharing lots more with you and I have to say I'm actually kind of glad that the move and house finding process has been slower than we hoped because it's given us a lot of time to get to know ourselves in this new environment and to see what is out there, rather than rushing into a home or into decorating a home.

After resourcing everything I have for my office and finding so many things I love that we could incorporate into our home I feel like I will make much better decisions, save money and time by already knowing what I like and where I can find it. I've also been keeping a list of local artisans who I could resource to have a few things made.

I'm still dreaming about making my own long, rectangle dining table and now I know some people who can help me with that. Exciting. I should see if there are any furniture making classes here in town. There are at least as many world-class artists here as there are in LA but the competition to get access to them and their work is vastly lower here. That's a good thing for us.

Hope you enjoyed this Southwest Modern 70s Style review. I am making a prediction now that Southwest is making a comeback across the design board. One other thing I wanted to mention was how interesting I think it is that there is such a connection and similarity between tribal weaving patterns across the globe. It's so interesting to think that those patterns may have all initiated from the same time and place and then spread across the globe as man migrated.

Thanks for coming by. Have a great day!
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