Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to me...


I'm off to celebrate my birthday this weekend. My love is whisking me away to an unknown location - he's planned a weekend trip and all I know is our flight leaves later today. Men who plan fabulous surprise trips for their women... truly a beautiful thing.
The photo above is from my birthday last year. I went to visit my best friends - I am temporarily living on the opposite coast - and they felt that I had to have ANOTHER cake (I'd already had two). Naturally it had to be pink, and well, they call me Weezer (don't ask) so that was my cake. Can't you feel the love? :)
OK, I'm off to finish packing. I'll see you fabulous people early next week. Have a great weekend!
P.S. A special thanks and much love to Sam at My Carolina Kitchen for honoring me with the Kreativ Blogger award. It's a lovely gift this birthday week, and I will be sure to pass it on when I get a chance. If you haven't already, go check out Sam's kitchen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday brightener... Vintage patterns


Photo credits: Laineys Repertoire via flickr

Aren't these old patterns fabulous? The dresses are all beautiful - and look how tiny those waists are! Too fun. They made me smile when I came across them so I thought they would make a great Tuesday brightener.
Hope you enjoy this little glimpse of beauty from the past. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The beauty of a perfect meal... and making a Splash!

Photo credit: Never Cool in School via flickr

Have you ever considered the beauty in a perfect meal? I don't just mean a meal where the food is delicious, either, though that is the most important requirement. I'm talking about a meal that lights up all of your senses.
Over the weekend, my love took me to a restaurant a few blocks away that we've been meaning to try for nearly two years, and we enjoyed the most wonderful, leisurely 2 1/2 hour dinner. We walked in to this little intimate restaurant and it was as if the world just melted away - quite an accomplishment for a place located on a busy street with plenty of sidewalk and car traffic out front. It was old-world, in the best possible way - one of those places that embraces the oddity of its space and architecture and claims it as an attribute. The beautiful linen tablecloths on candle-lit tables, gorgeous furniture and well-dressed wait staff all welcomed you to come in and dine - something we don't do enough of in this country. We're all too busy eating on the run so we won't miss whatever our jam-packed schedules have waiting for us to do next. And ambiance is something too many of us don't ever consider when eating.
But this place had ambiance to spare. You had no choice but to surrender to the beauty of the surroundings and the peacefulness the restaurant exuded. So we did. We drank wine, ate good bread and talked. We drank more wine, ate good bread and enjoyed the best calamari we've ever tasted (no, it wasn't fried), while continuing to talk about everything and nothing. We drank wine, ate more bread and then dined on our main course. (Yes, you've picked up on a theme here. Good wine and good bread are two of the four most important foods in living well in my book - good cheese and good chocolate being the other two. What can I say, I'm a woman of heady experiences.) We talked all the way through dinner and after, enjoying our wine and just being together in this beautiful place. As we debated dessert, our waiter came over with a free creme brulee because they felt the kitchen had been a little slow that evening. I honestly can't say we noticed; we were too busy enjoying ourselves. The dessert was as delicious and perfect as the rest of the meal and we walked out as content with ourselves and the world as two people could be at that moment, since naturally we had solved all of our own and the world's problems over that bottle of wine at dinner. Come to think of it, maybe the world wouldn't have so many problems if everyone could sit and talk like that over a delicious meal in a beautiful setting on a regular basis.
So, dear readers, I implore you - find some place fabulous to dine in the next few weeks and take your favorite person with you. Leave the rushing to and fro behind for two or three hours and just enjoy the beauty of good food, good wine (if that's your thing), good company and gorgeous surroundings. Leave your watches and cell phones at home. Trust me, you'll be amazed at the good a perfect meal can do for you.
Bon appetit.

*****


I am delighted to have received The Splash Award from Kathie at my net finds, which is one of my favorite blogs. The Splash Award is given to "alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive, and inspiring blogs." What can I say but "Wow!" It's so heartening to hear people actually enjoy my meanderings. So, thank you, dear Kathie.
Now, on to the rest of it. Here are the "rules" when you receive this award. When you receive this award, you must:
- Put the logo on your blog/post.
- Nominate and link up to 9 blogs that allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
- Let them know that they have been "splashed" by commenting on their blog.
- Remember to link to the person from whom you received your Splash Award. So, in no particular order, I pass this award along to:
Aimee at A Garden to Remember - She makes beautiful pillows and has an amazing personal story.
A-M at Armchair Trader - I just love her taste.
Craftypagan at Craftypagan Designs - Her designs are beautiful and fun and they always cheer me.
Penny at Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen - Love her recipes.
Penny at The Comforts of Home - Her blog is so beautiful and inspiring it made me want to blog. And she's quite a talented artist, too.
Manuela at The Pleasures of Homemaking - Her blog is so inspiring and she has more energy than I thought humanly possible.
Maggi at Just Add Glitter and Stir - I know Kathie already gave this award to her, but I'm giving it to her, too, because her blog ALWAYS makes me laugh out loud. She's hilarious.
Sam at My Carolina Kitchen - I love reading about cooking, I love the Carolinas and I love newspapers and newspaper writers. In short, I enjoy her blog.
Melissa at So about what I said... - Just a great and interesting read.
and... I'm sending this right back to Kathie, too. :) Go visit her at my net finds.
I have not gone around and commented on all these blogs, yet, letting them know I think they make a "Splash," but I will before the day is over. To the awardees, whether you post about it or not, please enjoy the award with the blog love intended. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pink Saturday...


Alas, I have often found that to be true... not that it seems to stop me.
I thought I'd share this cute little pink creation one of my friends made especially for me with some help from her daughter. Isn't it adorable? It usually hangs in my closet (which is actually a small room we sort of made into my closet). And yes, the closet is pink, too. :)
For more Pink Saturday, go to How Sweet the Sound. Beverly, our hostess, has a list of wonderful blogs to visit.
Have a great weekend, all. Happy Pink Saturday!

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's the details....

Photo credits: Steven Randazzo/Country Living

I came across this great article on Country Living and wanted to share it because it is so in tune with my philosophy that Beauty Does Matter - everywhere! It's proof that the smallest changes can make a difference, and that you can make over those little things in life without spending a fortune. Just take a few moments to make beauty a consideration and your whole environment will change.
Please click here to go to the slideshow.
Wishing you inspiration...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Knitting the day away... Part II


I thought all of you would enjoy seeing the scarf I have been knitting actually completed, since I posted about it earlier. I finished it a couple weeks ago, but I kept forgetting to take photographs. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I was going to add fringe, but I didn't leave enough yarn. Still, it's the perfect length to snuggle around my neck and I think it looks fine plain. I wanted something shorter this time because the last one I made was pretty long, so I only used one skein of yarn. Pretty cute, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday brightener... Am I blue?

I've been in the mood for blue the last couple of days. Maybe I overdosed on pink last week? Or maybe it's just that I need something calming. Blue is a very soothing color to me. Whatever the reason, I was in the mood for blue. I just love these photos - not only do they contain my favorite hues of blue, but they all focus on the beauty of their imperfect subjects. And you know I love that.

For those who are new to my blog and unfamiliar with my "Tuesday brighteners," a little background: Tuesdays are just not my favorite days. So, in order to give myself something to look forward to - and hopefully you as well - I post little "brighteners" each Tuesday - fun, dreamy, beautiful photos that just strike my fancy. Hopefully they brighten your day a little, too. :)




Photo credits from top to bottom: *Susie*; tipiro; Per Ola Wiberg; ktommy; HaPe_Gera all via flickr

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My first Pink Saturday...


Welcome to Pink Saturday! How fabulous is it to have a day each week dedicated to the color pink? Many thanks to Beverly at How Sweet The Sound for starting this lovely tradition.
For my first Pink Saturday I thought I would share some of my pink dishes. The teacup and saucer above is a favorite of mine; it was a gift from my mom. Below is one of my absolute favorite finds of all time. I uncovered this pink china amidst some junk in a shop in a little town in the mountains. I display it with some old blue and white dishes, which you can also see in the picture. The pink dishes, which are very fine and delicate, date back to the 1800s and were made in Germany.
Hope you enjoyed your little bit of pink this Saturday. If you're interested in seeing more Pink Saturday posts or joining in, please click on the button at the bottom of this post.
Have a great weekend, all!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Oh, to be in England...

Top photo: pdam2 ; Middle photo: tiarescott; Last photo: gailf548; All via flickr

I'm having one of those days where I'd rather be anywhere than where I am. (I keep hearing that old Calgon commercial in my head - "Calgon, take me away..." - Do you remember that??)
Anyway, if I could just wriggle my nose and go anywhere, this is where I'd go today. And just about any day, come to think of it. Doesn't it look beautiful and peaceful? These photos are of the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds is that area of Great Britain you always see on postcards and it's what many people of think of when they think of the English countryside - beautiful rolling green hills, gorgeous old country houses, ivy-covered cottages, little villages with odd names. In fact, it's so gorgeous, it is designated an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" by the government and its agencies. How cool is that? If that whole nose-wriggling thing worked, this is where I'd stay when I popped over there: http://www.cotswold-gateway.co.uk/ Go visit - the Website is a mini-vacation in itself.
And if you haven't OD'd on pink this week, stop by tomorrow for Pink Saturday. It's my first time participating. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pink + Toile = Heaven

Photo credit: Warm Biscuit

Pink + Toile = Heaven. I think that's going to be the name of my autobiography. Or the home decorating book I write.
No one would ever accuse me of being religious, but I do believe that beauty is actually goodness and the Divine's light. Embracing beauty is really embracing yourself, your tastes – and putting them on display for the world to appreciate. It's also leaving the world just a little bit better than you found it – and in the process showing gratitude to the Universe.
In my case, embracing beauty is painting the world pink. Well, as pink as possible while still maintaining a modicum of good taste. :) Add a little toile and you've got perfection. Pink is such a happy color; it just speaks to my soul. And toile is beautiful and classic and comfortable and the many different patterns all tell different stories, which I love. I personally believe the world could use a little more happiness and class and comfort, so it's important to me to try and bring those things to my little corner of the world.
I realize that everyone has a different idea of what's beautiful when it comes to decorating. I'm curious: What would equal heaven for you? No matter what it is, embrace it, share it – and the Universe will thank you.

Photo credit: Family Bedding
I am in LOVE with this bed. I've always wanted a four-poster and I love the toile curtains and coverlet. Now all I have to do is convince my significant other that pink in the living room and the bedroom isn't too much to ask of him. :)

Photo credit: Country Living
Early readers of my blog will know I have a thing for dishes. I have always avoided the red/pink transferware, thinking there could possibly be such a thing as too much pink, but after seeing this table, I wonder how I could ever have thought that. Maybe I'll just start with a tea set...
I love ribbon boards and this is one of my favorite toile patterns.

My love seat, with a pink toile overlay, pink rose blanket and pink ruched pillow.

Photo credit: Pottery Barn Kids
I just love the pink toile headboard and bedskirt on this bed. Perfect for girls of all ages.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday brightener...

Photo credit: Bliss Living

With the recent arrival of my friend's daughter, I've been looking at little girl things and falling in love. They're just so happy and sweet. I mean, really, how does one resist something so cute? It almost makes me want to have a little one. Almost. :)
To brighten up your week, I pulled some of my favorite finds to share. Hope you enjoy.
Happy Tuesday!

Photo credit: Warm Biscuit

For now...
Photo credit: Pottery Barn Kids

For when she gets a little older...
Photo credit: Pottery Barn Kids

And maybe for later...

Monday, August 10, 2009

An old book from a new friend...

Call me old-fashioned, but getting letters and packages in the mail still gives me such a thrill. This weekend, I received a beautiful little gift from a new blog friend - the lovely Karyn at French Charming. I won her giveaway from the Christmas in July party - and the prize was a nearly 100-year-old baby book!
I absolutely adore things with a past - and this book tells a wonderful story. I thought I'd share some of it so you could enjoy it, too. Isn't it beautiful in its own way? You can see many of the dates noted are from the early 1900s. I wonder what happened that made this little book fall out of the family's possession. Thanks very much, Karyn - I will treasure it and take very good care of it.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Loving lavender...

Image from Limbo Poet via flickr

Image from peteinterpol via flickr

Lavender just may be the perfect plant - beautiful, fragrant, useful. One of my dreams is to run through a field of lavender on a French hillside - and then lay down and take a nap after a lunch of good bread, cheese and a glass of wine. Doesn't that sound like a beautiful way to spend an afternoon?
I love the scent of lavender - it is very calming to me. Good candles, lavender-filled sachets and quality lavender soap/bath products are wonderful ways to get the healing benefits of this herb - not to mention they are wonderful little indulgences. :)

My current crop of lavender indulgences.

I thought I'd share a favorite recipe of mine - for a foot soak. Soak your tootsies in this and they'll thank you. This makes a great gift, too. Just put it in a pretty little bottle, tie a ribbon around it, add a soft little towel and poof! - a beautiful little present.

Lavender Foot Bath
Makes two, 1-pint bottles
3 to 5 fragrant fresh roses
10 fresh rosemary sprigs
10 fresh lavender sprigs
10 to 15 drops lavender essential oil
2 pounds Epsom salts

Carefully remove the rose petals from their stems, and the rosemary leaves and lavender blossoms from their sprigs. Place Epsom salts in nonmetallic bowl. Top with rose petals, rosemary and lavender. Drip oil over the rose petals, salts and herbs. Using a spoon (not wooden - it will absorb the oil), carefully mix together ingredients until well blended. Pour salts into glass bottles and seal with
tight-fitting lid or stopper.
You can vary the ingredients if you like - you can omit the rosemary and add more lavender, or vice versa. This also works great with mint and peppermint essential oil, if that's more to your liking. If you're wondering, I found this recipe about 10 years ago in Homemade Treats, one of those fabulous card collections you could buy through the mail. I have adapted the recipe many times to whatever I felt like that moment or had on hand, and it always came out great. Just stick to the basic amounts of herbs, salts and oil and you'll be good.

In addition to bringing a little added serenity to the world, did you know lavender is edible, too? There are quite a few lavender recipes out there. I've never tried one, but the cupcake below is tempting me. Hmmm... maybe something for the weekend?
Have a lovely one, all!

Image from norwichnuts via flickr. To get the recipe, click on the name of the photographer.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Speaking of butterflies...

There must be something in the air this week...

Ann at Creative Antics is doing something wonderful with her beautiful butterfly creations. Check out more on this fabulous and worthwhile project here.

Victoria at Whimsy by Victoria did a very cute lamp makeover with a butterfly design on Tuesday. Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday brightener... Butterflies

Image from aussiegall via flickr

I hope everyone is having a good start to the week - and if not, I've got a little eye candy to brighten your day. For this week's Tuesday pick-me-up, I found some beautiful butterfly photos. Aren't they gorgeous creatures? 
Hope you enjoy. And remember, beauty is everywhere if you just seek it out... 

Image from HaPe Gera via flickr

Image from Wildcat Dunny via flickr

Monday, August 3, 2009

Spreading the love...


A few days ago, I had the thrill of receiving my first blog award. :)  Karyn at the lovely French Charming gave me the Spread the Love award. Thank you, Karyn! I am still a beginner but I'd like to pass this on to a few blogs that I really enjoy. And hugs back to you, Karyn!

Manuela at The Pleasures of Homemaking - I marvel at her creativity and energy. And she loves toile as much (or possibly more) than I do!

Torie Jayne - Just a beautiful blog - she has the most gorgeous pictures. I love her taste.

Simone at Beach Vintage - I love her laid-back, coastal style.

Kathie at my net finds - The things she digs up - I never know what I'll find when I visit.  :)

I also wanted to say thank you to all the people who take the time to read my blog and follow along. You have all made me feel so welcome. 

Cheers,
Bella

Saturday, August 1, 2009

An artist's light...

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. 
Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same."  - Unknown

Jenny at her first art show last year. 
She's standing in front of part of her series on the Zodiac.

The quote above always reminds me of one of my dearest friends. I had no idea when I met Jenny years ago how much she would inspire me, remind me of what I could be or teach me how to embrace the beauty in myself and others. Not to mention she's just a hell of a lot of fun.  :)  
A couple of years ago when she hit one of those rough patches in life, Jenny turned to art. She started painting and hasn't looked back. Some people turn inward when faced with too much - I'm thinking of myself here - but Jenny poured herself into her newfound passion and in the process has made the world a little more beautiful and fun. Her fabulous work has turned her into quite the local artist and she had her first show last year - the centerpiece of which was her very well-received series in oil on the Zodiac symbols. 
I thought I'd share some of her wonderful work here in honor of her second show. That's right - my fabulous friend has just been invited to do another art show in December! I'm so proud and happy for her. She is now busily painting away in between devouring the Twilight books, whipping people at Trivial Pursuit, posting God-knows-what on Facebook and just generally causing a commotion wherever she goes.  :)  
I hope you enjoy her work - and may we all be lucky enough to find our own way of bringing a little more beauty and fun into a world that so desperately needs it. 
Have a great weekend, all!

Boscoe, her pug.

"Cancer," from her Zodiac series. It almost feels alive, doesn't it?

Emily, my dog. She painted this for me as a surprise, for a gift. 
It's one of my most treasured possessions.

A colorful parrot.