Friday, March 27, 2015

High Five March Madness Friday

Happy Friday, friends! Have you been watching March Madness? My team plays tonight, but not until 10 p.m.!! I am definitely a morning lark so it might be a challenge to stay awake that long... Otherwise, it has been a week of highs and lows, but we'll focus on some of my favorites from the week a/k/a the "High Five Friday."

1. Most popular pin
Von Fitz Design
This laundry room by Von Fitz Design was my most popular pin this week on Pinterest. I think the simple, streamlined look of the room is what resonates with people.
2. Most favorited tweet

AM Yoga via The Rapidian

I'm still getting the hang of Twitter, which I use primarily as a way to save articles that interest me, so I was surprised when this story about a yoga community in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was favorited more than once. I like how their community "roams" often ending up in people's living rooms.  :)

3. Strange Matter Coffee Co.

This new coffeehouse that brews "pour-over" coffee was something new that I tried this week. I had a cappuccino and lemon cranberry muffin. It was divine! To say nothing of the décor and my companion!

4. Arhaus outdoor collection
To celebrate their new outdoor collection, Arhaus is sponsoring a pinning contest. Visit their blog to read the details, but hurry. It ends tomorrow. To see my ideal outdoor room, click here.

5. One Room Challenge Linkup

Starts on Thursday! Are you joining in? Linda explains it all here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Author Interview: Cece Cerano

About a month ago a buzz started going around our community. A mom had written a novel and was sharing it with other moms. The book is called If At First by author Cece Cerano.

Using our freecycling group, the book passed from one reader to the next. Since I love books, I couldn't wait to read it! I downloaded a copy to my Kindle (free for Amazon Prime members), then asked her if she would mind answering a few questions about her book for all of you readers.

Here is our conversation:

Tabitha's home in Madison
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your novel?

Honestly, it was just something in my brain that wouldn't let me sleep until I wrote it down.  It feels stupid to say, but I swear it happened that way.  
Tabitha has to Google "Grace Kelly"
Q. How would you describe your book to someone who hasn't read it? Love story/ coming of age(?) both seem like good descriptions to me.

Maybe a coming of age love story?  I'm not sure really, I wasn't exactly aiming for a category. Tabitha definitely finds a sense of herself but I'm a huge sucker for a love story.
The emerald necklace Tabitha's father gives to her

Q. What does the title If At First mean to you?

I suppose it means the universe usually has its own plans for things like love. And maybe to consider not succumbing to the provocation of a first impression.
Tabitha's grandmother's house
Q. Have you always wanted to write a book? How did you decide to do this? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo, for example?

Okay, so full disclosure; I have no idea what NaNoWriMo is.  But yeah, sure I participated in it.  Why not.  Actually, I wrote this for my sisters.  We used to spend hours talking about the stories we were going to act out with our Barbie's before actually playing with them.  A few years ago I wanted to take my sister's mind off of things that were going on with her, but had to wrack my brain for something I wouldn't hate doing.  Turns out I completely love staying awake until 3am making things up to entertain myself and knew it would entertain her as well. 
But before that it never occurred to me that I wanted to write something.  Reading, absolutely.  Writing, not so much.
The bedroom Tabitha's grandmother redecorates for her stay

Q. What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors? Were you inspired by any of them?

I know everyone says Austen, because really, who doesn't love Austen?  But my absolute favorite is Georgette Heyer. I could read her books over and over and over.  And I do.  I love historical fiction, so Phillipa Gregory finds herself on my shelf, but I'm all over the place.  Also, anything Nora Ephron ever said or did.  But if anybody inspired anything in me, it was Georgette Heyer all the way. 
Grandmother's pink room where she plays cards (I love the crazy florals!)

Q. What was your writing process like? Did you aim to write a certain number of pages each day? What time of day did you write?

Well this is embarrassing.  I actually wrote this a few years ago when my kids were at the ages where they wouldn't leave me alone for thirty seconds so during the day it would just, like, brew in my head and the characters would have conversations, and things would happen until I could finally put the boys to bed and I'd sit down and write everything that went on in my head all day.  It wasn't easy to function, I wouldn't recommend it. 
The Lodge

Q. Where did you write (since this is mostly an interior design blog)? :) Was it a certain room in your home or did you go to a coffee shop or library?

Since life wouldn't do me the favor of pausing to accommodate my tendency to want to tell myself a story, I always kept an empty journal with me.  I would jot down ideas or words wherever I happened to be standing.  But mostly I was either on the couch or in my bed with a laptop while my family watched horrible TV or slept, and I would escape into my head. I dream about converting our shed into a little space for me but it's pretty full of the lawnmower so that likely won't work.  Probably a library or coffee shop would have been more productive, where were you with these ideas 3 years ago?
Inside the Lodge

Q. The public image of Haven Casey is not favorable, was his character influenced by anyone? I'm thinking Bruce Wayne, but do you watch the Bachelor?

Can't say I've ever seen the Bachelor, but I love love love the idea of Bruce Wayne.  No, Haven isn't based on anyone real, just a guy in my head. 
-And now I can't not think of Bruce Wayne. 
The Black and White Ball
Q. What else do you want us to know about you as a person?

There's not much to know.  Once I started writing, I challenged myself to finish an entire book.  I'm not saying it was easy, (because it wasn't) but I am incredibly happy to have accomplished it. I love my family, I love my job, I love living in East Lansing, and I had a story in my head so I wrote it down.  That's it, nothing special.

Q. Are you planning another book (I hope so!)? Can you tell us what it will be about? Any other subjects that you'd like to write about?

I do have something in my head, but at the rate I work it won't be anything readable for a while. Not too sure about other subjects, but there probably won't be anything to mind-boggling coming from me, I'm a read-to-escape type, and will doubtless stick with brain-candy. 
But we'll have to see what happens I guess. Anything is possible.

Q. Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for someone who wants to write a novel?

Maybe to find someone more qualified to take advice from?  I mean, everyone will have their own way of going about writing, it was a weirdly private experience for me. I never intended anyone else to read my book, it was only ever meant for my sisters.  It's not like I was looking to make it a job or answer to a publisher, I just wanted to do it, so I did.  When I got frustrated or blocked, I would stop. But it's amazing how much time you can find when you're sitting with your kids at the park, or waiting in the pick up line at school, or sitting on the grass at soccer practice.  That time can add up to a lot of words pretty fast if you want it to. I read somewhere that you should write 1,200 words a day.  Of course I read that after I was already finished, but even so it wouldn't have applied to me.  There's no magic formula for writing, I wrote when I had something to write.  Maybe that's not normal, but I think the trick is to just find what works and go with it.
Thanks so much to Cece for indulging my infinite curiosity! I really enjoyed the story and the characters and hope you will all pick up a copy of the book before spring break! It would make a great beach (or waterpark) read.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Before: Pink Bathroom

I have always loved this brick Cape Cod. It's at the corner of my old neighborhood, not far from my current house, so I've seen it a lot over the past ten years.
The yard is huge since it is on a corner lot (thankfully the snow has melted!). I like the mustard-colored siding above the brick. I'm also a big fan of the black trim and black garage doors. Overall, this house has always appeared to me to be well-cared for.

I love the huge, angled window in the front room. There's nothing quite like floor to ceiling windows to make me happy.

There are a total of four bathrooms in this house (two full and two half)! But the interior could use some updating, as evidenced by this pink-tiled bathroom.
With some simple styling using black accents, I think this pink tile could not only work for another few years, but even feel retro and fun!

The black lines on the shower curtain--which I would hang right over the glass doors unless/until they could be removed--coordinate with the lines in the Greek key-patterned Roman shade. The lines are repeated in the rug, but in a different formation, and are picked up again on the trim of the towels.

I also added some fun pattern with the graphic hand towels and leopard print trash can. The pink tray could be used to hold towels or mounted on the wall as art. The stool gives the homeowner someplace to sit or to stack towels between the sink and commode. By adding the stool and replacing the mirror, it makes the room feel less utilitarian and more luxurious.

Shop the Look:

To read more about pink bathrooms, check out this article here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lessons from Lady Detectives

One of my favorite book series is the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. The story is set in Gabarone, Botswana, and features Mma Precious Ramotswe, a private detective.

A few years ago HBO made the books into a series starring Jill Scott.

The first book begins with the line, "Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of the Kgale Hill."

While above is how I imagine the scenery there, the night scene below is also Botswana.


Two important lessons I have taken away from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books:

1. It's okay to drive an old car
Mma Ramotswe thinks of her old white van as a loyal friend and refuses to drive something newer and flashier. This is how I feel about my old Volvo station wagon. It's not pretty, inside or out, but it has taken my little family on so many trips, kept us safe, and can do this.

2. If you can afford to support small businesses, you should
I don't even remember if this is a recurring theme, but in at least one of the books, Mma Ramotswe refers to the fact that she has a cleaning lady as her moral responsibility to give someone a job. It's definitely a concept I try to embrace--and it occurred to me after buying a soup for lunch from the small café in my office building today.

Are you a fan of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books? Have you ever traveled to Botswana? Africa is on my bucket list.

Friday, March 20, 2015

High Five International Happiness Friday

Once again it's Friday. It's also the first day of spring and the International Day of Happiness! Here are my favorites from this week, otherwise known as the High Five.

1. "Watermelon martinis, exposed brick, Keri Russell's hair..."
So I don't think it was this past week that we watched the series finale of Parks and Recreation, but that quote has been stuck in my head (and it probably wasn't even from the last episode...). Anyway, it was how Billy Eichner's character soothed himself, and just thinking about him makes me laugh.

Two more shows to watch: Secrets and Lies and Battle Creek (set in my state).

2. Layering

I bought these $5 shirts from H&M the other day. They look great under a jacket or with a cardigan. I have been wearing them all week (here and here). Building an outfit is a lot like creating a room design, don't you think? Color, texture, pattern--it's all there.

Which is great because this cute dress from Rue La La is sold out (not sure I would have enjoyed the open back anyway) and the Tory shoes, though on sale, are not my size. Whatever...

3. MCM Classics
Seven midcentury modern pieces that will never go out of style. My favorites are the chairs. For some midcentury art, see my list here and my gallery wall inspiration here.

4. Cookies
My girl scout connection delivered the Thin Mints.

Cooking Light
I made these Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies for a family get-together this past weekend (although mine were not such perfect circles). The recipe is super simple with only six ingredients. 

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
1 cup reduced-fat chunky peanut butter 
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar   
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips (I used normal sized chips since that's what I had)

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Place salt and egg white in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until white is frothy. Add peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and chocolate chips, stirring to combine.
3. Divide dough into 20 equal portions (about 1 tablespoon each); arrange dough 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Huh? I didn't exactly do that. Gently press the top of each cookie with a fork; press the top of each cookie again to form a crisscross pattern, and flatten to a 2-inch diameter. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Albertina posted this delicious recipe (also Gluten Free) that I want to try!

But, I'm also thinking I need to be eating a lot more of the foods on this list.
5. For free, take. For buy, take your time.

So I rarely post about my great Craig's List or thrifting finds because I just don't have any. But I am able to get some great things for free, like this huge wicker trunk, which I am currently using as a banquette in our dining area.

And the Goldfinch which is for sale from my library's used book section for just $3.00! Using this method, though, means I might be waiting for this book for awhile.
What are you loving today??

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gallery Walls and Countdown to ORC Spring 2015

One of the ideas percolating in my brain for the next installment of the One Room Challenge is a gallery wall. There is one large wall in my daughter's bedroom makeover that would be perfect for a bunch of framed images. Here's some inspiration:

Oh Joy
My eight year old (and me too!) loves neon so painting some frames in neon colors might be a fun way to incorporate that into her room design.

Oh Joy
Several of the posters that have been framed for my daughter are of cute animals like the sweet giraffe and panda in this series.

Dustjacket Attic
I haven't decided just yet whether the wallpaper I'm planning for her room will go on the gallery wall or if it would be too distracting. But I do like the inspiration here of a dark wall behind the frames.

Cup of Jo
This is a nice arrangement of very large format and smaller framed images. I am still deciding whether one of the posters will be matted or not.

Town & Country
I'm interested, too, in the mix of frame colors. This arrangement has black, white, and brass/champagne colored frames.

This gallery wall starts low to the floor and goes to nearly the ceiling. Will I have enough framed images to do something similar in my daughter's room?

The Caterpillar Years
This is a sweet idea for a little girl who loves producing her own art.

And a little hint about how I'm planning to use the wallpaper...

Are you looking forward to the One Room Challenge, trademarked and hosted by Linda of Calling It Home? It begins Thursday, April 2nd!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mid-Century Modern Artists

Mid-century modern is the "it" girl of the interior design world right now, don't you think? Even if it's not your style, it's not a bad thing to have a little bit of mid-century modern in your design. Mixing up styles can add another layer of interest to a room.

One simple way to bring this style into your space is through art. Here, in no particular order, are 21 artists whose work dates from the middle of the last century. Click on the links to see more of their work.
  1. Henri Matisse: Rejecting the perfectionist styles that surrounded him during his youth, French Fauvist artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) found himself yearning for quite the opposite. His highly progressive works, many of which challenged societal norms, were characterized by dramatic use of color and highly exaggerated human forms. He spent more than six decades perfecting his rebellious style, painting everything from bold nudes to the mundane moments of everyday life.
  2. Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) was a Russian painter and art theorist. Art and sound were one and the same to him, because it is believed he had synaesthesia—a harmless condition that allowed him to appreciate two or more senses simultaneously. Kandinsky could not only see the color blue, he could hear it—he associated colors and tones with specific musical timbres. Part of his goal as an artist was to depict and share his synaesthetic experiences. The result is a painting that is complex and visually stimulating, with color combinations that reverberate.
  3. Paul Klee
  4. Amedeo Modigliani
  5. Marc Chagall
  6. Diego Rivera
  7. Edward Hopper
  8. Andrew Wyeth
  9. Pablo Picasso: One of the most-recognized figures in 20th century art, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer. His early success, through the Blue Period (1901-1904) and Rose Period (1904-1906) led to the establishment of Cubism (1909-1912) – one of his major contributions to the art world. Picasso's personal life was as controversial as his work – he was known for his love affairs, often with studio models that became his muses. In addition to his many affairs, he had two wives and four children.
  10. Piet Mondrian
  11. Georgia O'Keeffe
  12. Man Ray
  13. Joan Miro
  14. Rene Magritte
  15. Salvador Dali: Spanish artist Salvador Dalí (1904 – 1989) was a groundbreaking icon of the Surrealist movement and one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. His work probed the unconscious world of thoughts, dreams, and perception in fanciful and nightmarish images influenced by Freud, Cubism, Futurism, and metaphysical art. Extraordinarily imaginative, he also sculpted, and contributed to fashion, photography, and theater. Dalí's art has been called the epitome of Surrealism.
  16. Willem De Kooning
  17. Jackson Pollock
  18. Mark Rothko
  19. Roy Lichtenstein
  20. Andy Warhol: Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame has lasted 25 years. Born in 1928, he left a huge legacy behind when he passed away in 1987 after routine gall bladder surgery. From drawings, paintings, and prints to videography, publishing, and performance, he produced more than art -- he was essentially his own brand. From haunting black and white self-portraits to Polaroid snapshots of celebrities, many of the photos in the collection later became the inspiration for Warhol's most well-known Pop Art pieces.
  21. Robert Indiana
The descriptions of the artist's work, where available, is from and each artist's name links to a page of their work on their site. This is not a sponsored post; I just like art and appreciate the thoroughness of their website, including being able to buy print reproductions, often inexpensively, in a variety of sizes, with or without framing.

Monday, March 16, 2015

In the Great Green Room...

If you have spent much time around small children, chances are today's blog title prompts images of a telephone and a red balloon, and if you turn the page, a picture of the cow jumping over the moon. {And if you have no idea what any of that means, read this great article about the book here.}

But, the great green room is also what I think when I see all of the rooms in today's post. They are spaces that have incorporated some of the emerald in their design. So, in honor of it being March, the month of shamrocks and leprechauns, some great green rooms:

The modern shape of these green chairs and the rest of the furniture in this otherwise very Victorian looking space is unexpected and fun.

Stephanie Kraus Designs
 The green grasscloth walls in this dining room are a fresh take on a classic look. 
This big green couch links the dark walls and white shag carpet to make the room feel cozy and organic. It also illustrates what Paris-based interior designer Sarah Lavoine has to say about living with children.

I love this mid-century modern house tour. The green banquette with the brighter green lumbar pillow and the bit of green glass on the credenza warm up the white & wood look.

Jamie Meares via Flickr
Green drapes in a traditional room in a New York City post-war apartment...
Love is Speed
And in a modern flat in Paris. 
Domaine Home
Green paneled-doors in a Lisbon house tour that mixes modern and traditional.

Made by Girl
A dark room from John Jacob Interiors that uses green as a brilliant accent color. Not only is the focal point of this room the green sofa, but there are some beautiful greens in the abstract painting. See the rest of this space here.

via Carla Aston
Green and brass are a classic combination. 
via Atelier Rue Verte
And the many shades of green in this room, contrasted by the fuchsia ottoman, make me say "oui, oui, oui" all the way home!

Happy early Saint Patrick's Day!! Will you be celebrating?


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