Monday, May 31, 2010

My garden is growing!

Last month I wrote about my first foray into container gardening. I was a little anxious to see how things would do and I am delighted to report that my garden is in fact growing - both vegetables and flowers. (You can see the "before" photos here.) This past week, I discovered my first tomato growing on the vine and I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning. Seriously, you might have thought I won the lottery, I was so excited. :)
Unfortunately, a couple days ago I also discovered something was beginning to eat my plants, so I have to figure out how to deal with that - whatever it is seems particularly taken with my green beans, which are in the first pot in the photo below, and my cucumber plant. Since my goal is to eat good, local food and food not laced with chemicals - thank you, Jamie Oliver, for inspiring me - I'm hoping to find an organic solution to the problem.
If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears. I really appreciated the tips I got last time - they were very useful.
Wishing everyone a great Memorial Day, full of good fresh food. Don't forget to say a little prayer of thanks to our soldiers.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Coming soon... My Beauty on Etsy series

I have a confession to make: I am in love with Etsy. Or rather, the beauty that can be found there. Since I believe that embracing beauty is truly important to living, I thought it would be fun to share more about these people who bring all this beauty into the world, either through their art or their collecting/preservation sensibilities.
If you have a favorite artist/blogger you want to nominate to be featured, I'm open to suggestions. My only criteria for this "Beauty on Etsy" series is that I love the items on display in their Etsy shop, and that the shop owner is willing to be featured. The series will be varied, featuring painters, multi-media artists, photographers, jewelry makers, collectors/sellers of vintage items, etc., and hopefully offer a little something for everyone.
The photos you see with this post are just a snapshot of some of my favorite Etsy shops (they are not my creations and I do not have an Etsy shop). I'm planning to feature a new Etsy shop every other week or so, and I'll keep a compilation of the shops featured for future reference – sort of a shopping guide, if you will. I thought it might come in handy if you're looking for a unique gift, especially since Etsy can be somewhat overwhelming when you don't have a specific destination.
Look for the first Beauty on Etsy feature later this week. :)

P.S. If you saw this post pop up in your reader more than once, my apologies. I had an awful time with the coding and had to completely start over twice. Yeesh. The joys of html coding.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A special Pink Saturday (and a giveaway)...

Happy Pink Saturday, all! This is a very special Pink Saturday: Our weekly tribute to pink is celebrating its second birthday. In honor of the milestone, I'm holding a little giveaway. But first, I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite pink and white baskets.
These are some of Longaberger's Horizon of Hope baskets. Longaberger donates a portion of the profits to breast cancer research, hence the pink ribbons. I love the pale colors and the liners are beautiful. A message of hope is always welcome, don't you think?

And now, to celebrate Pink Saturday's second birthday, I thought I'd give away these adorable little pink and chocolate journals from Vera Bradley:

The set contains three mini-journals; the pages are lined. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post by Thursday, June 3. If you are a follower, let me know and I'll throw your name in the hat a second time. I'll announce the winner next Saturday.
Please stop by Beverly's place at How Sweet the Sound to see a complete list of this week's participants. Pink Saturday wouldn't be possible without Beverly's work each week, so be sure to leave her a kind word as well.
Wishing all of you a beautiful holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dreaming of beauty in the bath...

Image from Karen Horton via flickr

I've always found bathrooms to be restful, romantic places – or, at least they are in my dreams. My current bathroom doesn't measure up, but one day I shall have the clawfoot tub I long for, the vintage subway tiles, the linen closet that is so full of luxurious sheets and fluffy towels you never want to close the door to its beauty or its lavender scent. I shall have two sinks, glass canisters full of bubble bath and sea salts and piles of French lavender soap. And a simple chair to sit in while I draw my bath, a stack of magazines at the ready.
Sounds like perfection to me.
If you're wondering what prompted these beautiful bathroom dreams, it was my neighbors. They have been renovating their old beach cottage and they put in a fabulous new/old bathroom - everything is new, but it feels old, fitting in with the period of the house. It reawakened my "someday" bathroom dreams.
One of my favorite books about beauty in the bath - both for the person and the home - is the one pictured below. It's an old book from the original Victoria Magazine, out of print now, though you can still find it on eBay and places like that. It is a feast for the eyes as it waltzes through the seasons. Should you come across it, it's worth picking up.
What's in your dream bathroom?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A mix of old and new...

When these extremely old purple toile family dishes were passed down to me several years ago, I was beyond thrilled - a feeling I'm sure my fellow dishaholics can understand. Then when I got them unpacked to display, I realized I needed a few things to fill in the gaps, to make them look their most beautiful. Almost immediately, I stumbled across the little tea cups you see in the second photo. They complement the set nicely, don't you think?
But the more inspired find is the accompanying linens. I stumbled across these linen napkins with the same color and feel of the dishes in TJ Maxx. As soon as I saw them, I knew they would be perfect to set off these old dishes. You can see just how well they go together in the first photo. To take advantage of this gift from the universe, I decided to display one of the napkins in the bottom of a basket tray and prop up the basket - it provides the perfect backdrop. The full display is shown in the bottom photograph.
Not too long after I put all this together, a friend asked me if the linens came with the purple dishes or if I had somehow found a near perfect match (an odd ability of mine). I confessed the linens were new, not old. But as is so often the case, that little bit of new brought out the beauty of the old.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The last of the tulips for this year...

Spring may not officially be over for another month or so here, but I can feel summer in the air. The nights are getting warmer, my plants and flowers are really starting to grow, and I have a great itch to spend each weekend at the beach. Before spring is completely gone, I thought I'd share the last of this year's tulips. Aren't they pretty? I love the vivid colors.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Happy Pink Saturday!

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend thus far, full of lots of fun pinks. This week I thought I would share some of my absolute favorite pink images from flickr - an amazing site if you've never looked around. Hope you enjoy the beauty of the pinks on display. :)
As always, thanks to Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for hosting this weekly tribute to pink. For a complete list of participating blogs, click here.
Happy Pink Saturday!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Creative storage ideas...

More often than not, I find storage solutions to be rather boring. Practical, but boring. As in beauty need not apply. But then I came across these ideas from Country Living and I thought - WOW. It would never have occurred to me to mount an old dollhouse on the wall and use the rooms for storage. (Isn't that fabulous??) Or to hang cute chairs when they are not being used to create a fun little area instead of tucking them into a closet. And I've seen jewelry hangers before, but never one made from an old rake. Isn't that a cool idea?
Function, fun and beauty all in one. Love it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A little beauty for your desk...

All photos from Vera Bradley

In light of the recent turn of events at my office, which you can read about here, I thought it would be important to hone in on another way to add beauty to my work environment - one beyond objection. There are lots of pretty/funny office products and note cards around, but Vera Bradley (which also makes purses, totes, luggage, rugs and other things) makes some of my favorites. I love that the company always has new patterns coming out and is always adding new products. And, their office products are fairly reasonable in cost, so I won't feel guilty indulging in a treat or two to brighten my desk and my workday.
It doesn't matter if your desk is in an office building or a room in your house - all those functional items you use (sticky notes, paper, file folders, note cards, etc.) can still be pretty and bring you a hint of pleasure. I'm a firm believer in making necessary tasks as pleasant as possible, and most things done in an office are hardly what you'd call fun, so I'll take all the help I can get in the form of pretty papers to make the experience more enjoyable.
Click here to go to the Vera Bradley site. Just looking at all the pretty patterns brightens my day. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pink Saturday and a little blog bling...

Happy Pink Saturday everyone! Since it's Mother's Day weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to share some flowers, since that's what we always send our mothers. These are some of the flowers from around my home. I hope you enjoy.
As always, thanks to Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for hosting this weekly event. Please stop by her blog for a list of this week's participants.
And, if you haven't heard, Pink Saturday has been featured in the summer issue of Artful Blogging. Isn't that wonderful? You can order a copy of the issue here.
Wishing all of the mothers in the world a beautiful weekend full of love and laughter!

And now, I have a little blog bling to pass on...

Kathie at Just a Happy Housewife, who is one of my favorite bloggers, created this fun award and passed it on to me. Since it's pink, Pink Saturday seemed the appropriate time to pass it on. The only rule that comes with the award is that if you accept it, please pass it on, as every blog deserves a little bling. :) I would like to pass this award on to everyone who participates in Pink Saturday this week. If you put up a Pink Saturday post today, please accept this award from me as a thank you for adding a little more pink to the world. Enjoy it in good fun.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Is all this frivolous?

Photo from Weaselmcfee via flickr

Something very odd happened last week - and while it had nothing to do with my blog directly, it affected it nonetheless and got me to wondering and feeling a little blue. Here's what happened: My office spent the last two weeks moving into a new building - a huge step up from where we were located. The new place is beautiful and comes complete with ocean views for everyone - it's one of those office buildings that borders on glamorous, if an office building can be such a thing. The company I work for is small and has never invested much in its location or surroundings, preferring to return that money to its employees - not a bad philosophy. But there are some changes afoot, as the majority owner is selling all his stock and retiring.
With the move, all of us got much bigger offices than what we had before. We were told it would be fine for us to decorate our own offices - hang art, that type of thing - if we desired, since the company wasn't ready to spend that kind of money on such things. So I did just that and my office was beautiful - lovely art on the walls, a couple beautiful chairs brought in to complement my desk, a nice table with a lamp. All very warm and welcoming and tasteful and yes, professional looking. A couple people came by while I was finishing up and loved it, asking me if I would help them with their space, to which I said of course. I left feeling pleased with our company's new beginning in such a beautiful space, thinking what a joy it would be to work some place so warm and welcoming. That evening, I got a call telling me that while my office looked beautiful, it was "too nice" - and the company wasn't ready for that. I was told the company's philosophy has always been that decorating is frivolous and unnecessary and while people were initially encouraged to decorate, things had changed. I was basically told to undecorate (if there even is such a word) and to use the company's old chairs, etc., rather than the nicer ones I had brought in (their words). Stunned, I went straight to the office and dismantled everything, leaving basically an empty shell devoid of warmth and personality, but ultimately deemed more suitable.
Now, I am questioning why anyone would want things to look worse, not better. It was as though beauty frightened them and the only way this person knew how to deal with it was to be insulting and call it frivolous. There are times, certainly, when being surrounded by beauty is the least of your concerns, but is it really such a bad thing to add warmth and beauty to an environment you spend a large part of your time in? The whole ugly incident has left me with a bad taste in my mouth and every time I thought of my blog this past week, I could hear that voice in my head telling me I was being frivolous, so I let it sit. Is choosing to seek out beauty in all things frivolous? My instinct says no, it's part of my being, it's part of who I am. But sometimes I wish there was just a little less ugliness in the world, so it didn't seem like I was such a misfit.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In love with lilacs...

Above photo from Kim Cornelison and Pete Krumhardt/Midwest Living. Photo below from Madmoiselle Lavender via flickr. Bottom photo from Country Living.

Welcome, May. I fell in love with lilacs in the month of May and it was like discovering a hidden gem. It wasn't that I had never seen lilacs before, it was more that I never paid them proper attention. And once I did, I was in love - with their beauty, their scent, their promise of summer.
It was this issue of Victoria magazine, from May 2000, that turned me on to this new love:

Something about those lilacs popping out of that bicycle basket - I wanted to live in that photograph. A couple weeks later, I had planted my own lilac bush, which flourished. One day, I shall have a little mini grove of lilacs. Also on my list is a visit to Mackinac Island, celebrated for its lilacs and beauty. Click here for a story on the island from the current issue of Victoria magazine. This year's island lilac festival is June 11-20. Should anyone be lucky enough to attend, I would love to hear about it.