Monday, January 25, 2010

For tea and dish lovers...

If I were closer to Washington, D.C., I would seriously have to consider finding $125 to attend this event. Tea with Lord Wedgwood? And a private tour? Bestill my heart. Not to mention getting to meet Tricia Foley, who has written some of my favorite articles and books over the years (lovers of tea and England and the old Victoria magazine will recognize her name). This event is being sponsored by the new Victoria magazine; click here for more. If anyone should be lucky enough to attend, I would love to hear about it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pink Saturday...

Happy Pink Saturday, all! My post this week is probably a little odd, but I'm so happy with this I had to share. I used to keep my makeup in a pretty basket, which I managed to drop/knock over on a regular basis, thus sending me scurrying to pick up everything up before it rolled away. (I'm terrible about dropping things - just ask my poor cell phone.) But then I stumbled upon this pink make-up case at Victoria's Secret and fell in love. Isn't it adorable? It has so many handy little pockets that zipper (so things don't fall out!) and since I can actually close the whole thing up, I no longer have to pick everything up off the floor when I drop it. I just love the pink stripes inside, too - they're so cheery. (Please ignore my hodgepodge of makeup.) Every morning when I open it up, I smile. A good way to start each day. :)
Please stop by Beverly's place at How Sweet the Sound for a complete list of blogs participating in this week's festivities. And stop by next week - I'm working on putting together a really nice giveaway.
Have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rainy days and little pleasures...

Rain is rare where I live, so the steady gray and wet weather of the last couple days is a welcome change. The strong winds and tornado watches I could do without, but like most things in life, there's a little bad that comes along with the good that you just have to live with. I'm sure that by the time the rain moves out at the end of the week, I will be glad to see it go – but for now, I'm still enjoying it.
My favorite thing about bad weather is all the little pleasures to be found in taking refuge from it. Yesterday, I arrived home from work to find our old wooden screen door nearly torn off, our front step light actually destroyed from the wind (I still can't figure out exactly how that happened...) and our metal flag pole bent 90 degrees. By the time I grabbed everything and managed to maneuver it indoors, I was pretty much drenched. But I dried off, cranked the heat up, turned on The Golden Girls marathon and decided to indulge in cooking some comfort food for dinner. I had taken chicken breasts out to thaw the night before, but instead of grilling them as intended, I decided some homemade chicken soup sounded better.
I put some chicken stock on the stove, cut up some carrots and threw them in along with some additional spices. I cooked the chicken in a separate pan, adding a little crushed red pepper to give it some punch. When the breasts were cooked, I cut them up and added them and the seasonings from the pan to the soup and let it all simmer for an hour or so. I decided some brownies were in order, so then I threw a pan of them together. Between the soup and the brownies, the house smelled just heavenly. When my sweetie got home, I added some egg noodles to the soup and started on my homemade cheese biscuits. Everything was delicious, if I do say so myself, and it hit the spot - which is really the point of comfort food. And my sweetie enjoyed the soup so much - I really think it was the spices that did it - he ate two large bowls. And polished off the biscuits.
The rest of the evening I spent huddled under my favorite blanket with my dogs and my man, watching comedies on TV and eating brownies. There's something wonderful about being able to take shelter from a storm and indulge in such comforts, don't you think?
Wishing you days filled with little pleasures, be it rainy or sunny...

Photo by clairity via flickr


And speaking of little pleasures, I am so honored to receive this fabulous designation from the Duchess of Tea. If you have not stopped by Rose Tea Cottage for tea, you must. The Duchess always has such beautiful treats on offer. It's one of my favorite blogs to visit, particularly if I need a pick me up. Beauty abounds there. Thank you, Duchess, for your kindness.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A favorite find... Kinzig Design lamps

All photos from Kinzig Design

Credit for this fabulous find has to go to one of my dearest friends, who found these stunning lamps in a boutique while on vacation over the holidays and was instantly in love. Until seeing these, she said she always thought of lamps as more functional than anything else. But these unique handmade beauties made her see lamps as works of art - and I couldn't agree more. All of the lamps shown here are from Kinzig Design in San Francisco. I have always had a bit of a thing for lamps, but I've never seen anything quite like these. They really are works of art - shapely, glamorous and beautiful, each with a distinctive personality. Of course, quality like this doesn't come cheap - they start at $500 - so it's not like most of us can run right out and buy a couple. But it sure is fun to look and appreciate the beauty of the talent on display. Click here for a little window shopping - they have the most stunning floor lamps, too. One day...

All photos from Kinzig Designs

Monday, January 11, 2010

When beauty finds you...

Most of us are fortunate enough occasionally to have beauty simply deposited on our doorstep. I was the lucky recipient of this blessing from the universe on Sunday. My love returned from a little grocery shopping (which come to think of it, was blessing #1 for the day) with this gorgeous bouquet of flowers for moi.
Pink is my favorite color (obviously), and I just adore daisies, hydrangeas and roses - all of which are found in this bouquet. Not only that, but I got to use my fabulous pink vase! I don't get to use it as often as I would like because so many flowers clash with it - it is quite pink, after all.
The best part of all this is I really needed these flowers. I just finished putting Christmas away and I was feeling a little empty when lo and behold I walk in and find these gorgeous blooms waiting for me. Isn't it beautiful when an unspoken need is met?
Wishing all of you a fabulous week!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A fabulously girly bathroom...

Normally, I’m not a matchy-matchy girl. Nor do I really go in for themed bathrooms. But I have to admit I was thrilled when this big box arrived in the mail from my mom containing this fabulous bathroom set. She said she saw it and just couldn’t resist, so she bought up all they had and sent it to me. Isn’t it too cute? I just looooooove how girly and “pink” it is. Of course, now I really need to paint the guest bathroom pink, but it's a small price to pay, don’t you think?

The shower curtain in the guest bathroom. Check out the pink fuzzies on the stilettos.

As always, thanks to Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for hosting this weekly tribute to pink. Please click here for a full list of participating blogs.

Wishing everyone a beautiful weekend and a fabulous Pink Saturday!

ADDITIONAL NOTE ~ Jan. 2012: I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails and other comments since this post ran a couple of years ago asking where I got this set, but I’m afraid I can’t help you. I’m not sure of the store and after so long, I’m not even sure the set is still available. Your best bet is to try online.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cut, paste, enlighten...

My home decorating collages.

Have you ever been unsure of exactly what it is that you like? That sounds like a dumb question, I know. But think about it. Do you know what your style really is? If you're not sure - or even if you think you are - I've got a little project for you. Collage.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance, discusses collage as a tool for uncovering "your authentic self." Now let me just say that I unabashedly love Simple Abundance - it is a wonderful, wonderful book and I encourage you to read it and every other of Sarah Ban Breathnach's books. I have learned so much from her work and am a huge fan. In Simple Abundance and the companion Illustrated Discovery Journal, she walks you through the process of creating different collages to get at what you really feel. She can explain it much better than I can (and I can't encourage you enough to seek out her books for reference) but the general gist is this: Get some old magazines (and other materials if you like) and start tearing and cutting out photos that speak to you on whatever topic you're working on - your home, how you dress, your dreams, whatever. Pick out what speaks to you without putting too much conscious thought into it. Pull images one day, then work on the collage the next. There is no right or wrong way to put the images together - do whatever feels right. Afterward, look at the collage and then look at the reality of what the collage is about - in other words, if you did a collage on decorating your living room, compare the collage to what your living room actually looks like.
Are the two similar? If not, why? What can you do to make your reality reflect what you truly love?
If you think this sounds silly, I assure you trying it a few times (and reading Sarah's work) will make you a believer. Would you believe that when I did the collage above about how I'd decorate my home that I lived with dark green/blue/red plaid furniture, dark green carpet and what can only be described as wildlife art? It's no wonder I walked into my home and felt like I didn't belong. It also explained my penchant at one time to wear florals (which I thankfully got over). I realized I was trying to compensate for what was missing in my home environment. When I made a collage focusing on wardrobe, it looked nothing like the clothes in my closet.
If you do a collage and are unsure what it is telling you, send me a photo and I'll be happy to interpret. I took a class from the master herself at Simple Abundance online to learn more. (I have a certificate and everything!)
And, I am happy to say that, over time, I have been able to revamp my home (and wardrobe) to reflect ME. And for that, I will always be grateful to Sarah Ban Breathnach.
So, go get some magazines and try this out. Better yet, get Sarah's books and read them, too.
After all, how can you embrace beauty if your mind and soul aren't working together to tell you exactly what beauty you need in your life?

Monday, January 4, 2010

The beauty of being...

Sunflowers are such happy plants. I felt like I was beaming like one all day. Photo from ManojVasanth via flickr.

Dreading a return to work after a luxurious two weeks off, I was determined to spend today just being. And enjoying it. I did all my housekeeping and laundry and errands on Saturday so I could enjoy whatever I felt like on Sunday. Sometimes I get so caught up in the doing all the time, I forget to just be.
But today, I managed to do just that. I slept late, wrote in my journals and played on my iPod a little. I was struck by a sudden need for some new knitting projects about noon, so I headed to a fabric and craft store I had heard good things about but never entered and spent quite a while wandering around, finding all sorts of goodies. I returned home with bag full of yarn and some new knitting looms to try and spent the afternoon working on those. I decided I felt like a wonderful meal earlier in the day, so I prepared a pork loin roast (seasoned and wrapped in bacon) for dinner. Later, I added my famous mashed potatoes, sauteed some fresh green beans with just a touch of onion and warmed some crusty rolls. The meal was declared delicious by my sweetie and I had to agree. To indulge all the senses, I also set a pretty table, using some of my favorite dishes.
I caught up with some friends on the phone and talked with my sweetie about this and that. This evening I spent working on the new looms and ate a few Hershey kisses. Bliss.
I share all this because I realized today that because I made a conscious choice to just enjoy the day, I did. My only expectation today was one of pleasure, and it was met. And that is a beautiful way to live, don't you think? I will have to remember that throughout the year.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Authenticity and beauty go hand in hand...

My dining room, with the living room in the background.

Style is as unique to each individual as a petal is to a flower. Things I find fabulous you may find ho-hum.
But as I've gotten older, one of the things I have discovered is that even though something might not be to my personal taste or style, I can still see the beauty in it. A lot of times, being able to do that means seeing something through someone else's eyes.
I'm not big on super modern, contemporary decorating. One of my friends, however, is. And you know what? I love her house. Absolutely love it, even though it's not my taste. Partly because she's my friend, but mostly because her love and enthusiasm for what she considers beautiful shines through. And it's nearly impossible to be in the midst of that and not appreciate it.

My friend's fabulous dining room.

Another friend of mine has a love of green and earth tones, with a sort of contemporary country flair. Her dining room in particular is great, as you can see above. And though it's not necessarily how I would choose to decorate, as you can see from the photo of my dining room, I really love her sense of style. (And if I thought I could get away with it, I'd steal that wardrobe from her in a heartbeat.)
Many people would never consider a pink-dominated living room. For me, there's just no other way - it suits. And you know what? Even though my friends would never have such a thing, they love it because it is so me. The lesson? By embracing what we each feel is beautiful and putting it out there for the world to see, we have put forth part of our true selves. And people respond to it because it is authentic.

My pink love seat.

Same goes for your personal appearance, too. How many times have you run across a woman who makes you think "I could never dress that way," but you find yourself drawn to her nevertheless. You know why? Her sense of herself is on display and you recognize that and are responding to her authenticity.
Embrace beauty in whatever form you want. If you're not quite sure where to start because you aren't sure what your tastes are, hang on. We'll get to that.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Yes, even tissue boxes matter...

People have always sort of laughed at my consideration of beauty. Ever since I was a kid, I've been drawn to it – and if it wasn't there, I was interested in creating it. When I was about 10, I was with my siblings at the house of my parents' friends. They were showing us the yard where we could play and an old tree house. It was a little dirty, with a few years of dust and leaves strewn inside. I immediately set about cleaning it up, already seeing in my imagination how cute it could be. I remember this because later on that afternoon, I heard my parents' friend telling them how I immediately started cleaning up. They all thought it was one of those cute/funny things about me and my dad said if left to my own devices, I would have it all fixed up in no time.
When it came time for new wallpaper in the dining room and living room, my mom picked it out. But she was stumped when it came to which color to paint the wall going up the stairs since it needed to complement both rooms. I was horrified that they were going to go with plain white by default – it would have looked terrible. So, I got to choose (a soft peachy pink, if you're curious). They raised their eyebrows at my selection, but once it was on the wall, agreed it was the right choice, warming the space and harmonizing the two rooms. Beauty 1, Boring 0.
One time in my teens when I was being teased again about always having to choose something "pretty," even practical things no one should care about, like tissue boxes, I explained that it wasn't that I would automatically discount something just because it wasn't "pretty." It was just that I felt if one had a choice, beauty should always be considered. After all, I told my dad, why live with something ugly if you don't have to? And yes, that applied all across the board, even down to little things like tissue boxes. Being surrounded by beauty is important, I argued at the time, or else God wouldn't have bothered to create things like flowers, nor would he have graced us with creativity. (Now I would add that choosing to surround yourself with beauty – be it beautiful furniture, colors, fabric, flowers, clothes, etc. – is a cross between honoring the divine and self-love.)
Dad laughed, said he hadn't thought about it like that, but I had a point. Years later, my friends said the same thing. I hope you agree.

New beginnings for a new year...

One of my many coffee table arrangements.

Greetings, all! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays. I am so happy to report that my Internet/network issues have finally been resolved, so I am celebrating with a little blog makeover for the new year. I hope you like it. In addition to the cosmetic changes, I'll be doing a few other things differently, like sharing some of my favorite things on Fridays instead of doing Tuesday brighteners. After all, change is good. In my other posts, I will be focusing on graceful, simple living and ways to add beauty to your life in areas like homekeeping, decorating, cooking, gardening, your closet, etc.
I've been thinking a lot about beginnings lately and thought now would be a good time to share some of my original writings - you know, the posts you do when your blog is brand new and absolutely no one is reading it. :) I have three posts lined up to run again in the next week, with a little tweaking here and there. Since no one saw them the first time around, they are new to all of you. I thought they would serve as a good way to introduce myself and my philosophy to my new followers, of which there are quite a few and to whom I extend a very warm welcome. Not to mention there is some really good stuff in there I'd like everyone who reads my blog to consider in this new year.
Wishing all of you a beautiful and joyous 2010.