Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's In the Details No. 1



What is it that makes decorating so fun, so satisfying...when you get it right?  It's all about the details, the elements big and small, that is used in furnishings, fabrics, silver, books, hardware, dishes and server ware, art, crafty pieces, colors, patterns, collectibles... Using the same details and motifs over and over pulls a room or an entire home together... gives it life...makes it interesting... and makes it personal, if you use something that has a lot of meaning for you.  This post is the first of what I hope will be many posts about lovely, fun, pretty, beautiful, quirky, interesting details of all sorts used in decor that catch my eye and my heart---not just in my own home, but places I visit, as well as inspiring photos on the Internet.

Today, it's all about roses for me, thanks to a recent visit to the Huntington Library tea room and rose garden, not to mention the roses from my own garden.  



Rather than use a lot of words to explain each photo, I thought I'd let each image speak for itself and show how my favorite flower has made its way into the details of my home.  

Go ahead and look at each photo and see if you can find all the roses in each one.  Look beyond the obvious....there are real roses from my garden in almost every photo, but the rose is also repeated both literally and stylistically as a pattern, as decorative embellishments and flourishes, as a theme, or as a color in the things in almost every image.







































Did you find all the roses?

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Thanks so much for visiting!

Linking to the following this week....

Best of the Weekend at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
That DIY Party at DIY Showoff
Roses of Inspiration Linkup at The Enchanting Rose
The Scoop173 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings
Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Bouquet of Talent at Life on Lakeshore Drive
Party in Your PJs at the Cookie Puzzle
Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Share Your Style at Common Ground
Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop at Ducks 'N a Row
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Your Turn to Shine at Canary Street Crafts
Idea Box Thursday at Mila's Little Things
Share Your Cup Thursday at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Inspiration Board Creative Party at Carolyn's Homework
Inspiration at Live Laugh Rowe
Foodie Friday and Everything Else at Rattlebridge Farm
Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest


Monday, May 25, 2015

Building a Pretty Flower Bouquet



There is nothing like fresh flowers and greenery to add life and loveliness to your home.  The scent, the color, the texture... all these things add that special element that makes a room come alive.  You can create a beautiful flower arrangement easily using what you have in your garden or by supplementing store-bought blooms by following a few simple steps.  Today I'm providing a quick tutorial for 'building' a pretty flower bouquet.

What you will need....

1. a pretty vase or container
2. foliage to create a framework
3. flowers for supporting color
4. starring blooms




Additionally, using 'wet' floral foam placed in your vase or container gives you more control over the placement and arrangement of your flowers and greenery-- this is handy for shorter, broader vases like the one I've used here.  You poke the stem into the foam and the flower stays put instead of flopping over or falling out of the vase all together.  Floral foam is available at craft stores such as Michaels or JoAnn  (this is not a sponsored post) and can be used multiple times.

For this flower arrangement, I used roses from my garden to supplement foliage and flowers I purchased from the floral section of a local grocery store.  I've let my garden go in recent years and only my roses seem to be flourishing with the minimal care that they get.... so this is a great way for me to create a fantastic looking arrangement without having to maintain a cutting garden.




First step... create a framework using a variety of greenery. The framework should include a mix of dense, fine/feathery, and tall/spiky foliage that adds that varied and textural backdrop that will showcase and complement the supporting and starring flowers.




Second step....add the supporting color that complements the starring flowers that will be the focal point of your arrangement.  I'm using purple and lavender colored flowers.. spider mums (I think), chrysanthemum, and statice.




Last step... add those special flowers that will have the starring role in your arrangement. In this case I used a mix of my favorite roses from my garden (all David Austin): 'Evelyn', 'Tamora', and 'English Garden'.... all in varying shades of peach and peachy-pink, which looks beautiful with the purples and lavenders of the supporting flowers, and the varying deep greens and chartreuse colors of the foliage.




And of course, once you are all done, set your arrangement where you can enjoy it.  In this case my flower arrangement sits happily in our front hall where we can enjoy its color and scent when we come and go throughout the day or go up and down the stairs.














Thank you for visiting!

Linking to the following this week....

Best of the Weekend at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
That DIY Party at DIY Showoff
The Scoop172 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings
Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Bouquet of Talent at Life on Lakeshore Drive
Party in Your PJs at the Cookie Puzzle
Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Share Your Style at Common Ground
Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop at Ducks 'N a Row
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Your Turn to Shine at Canary Street Crafts
Idea Box Thursday at Mila's Little Things
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Inspiration Board Creative Party at Carolyn's Homework
Inspiration at Live Laugh Rowe
Foodie Friday and Everything Else at Rattlebridge Farm
Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How to Decorate on a Whimsical Note


Using whimsical elements when decorating, especially those things with personal meaning,  gives your home character and individuality, and keeps it from looking like a furniture store showroom, which, let's face it, as nicely done as they can be, tend to be a bit sterile.  In this case, I'm demonstrating how I use a childhood love, dolls, to add a bit of whimsy and playfulness to my home.  

I was crazy about dolls when I was little,  and to a certain extent, the little girl in me still wants to play with them. I had all sorts of dolls-- a whole tribe of Barbie dolls, Raggedy Ann dolls and other cloth dolls sharing my bed with an impressive menagerie of stuffed animals (another childhood obsession), a collection of dolls from around the world, old fashioned dolls with china heads....Like the doll characters in some of my favorite books, all of them peopled an imaginary world, where each became a character with his or her own personality and motivations (I used my shoes as Barbie cars; my favorites got to 'drive' my roller skates). Today, the little girl in me still wants to play with dolls... however, using dolls when decorating can get tricky.  I don't want my house to be over-the-top-fluffy little girl feminine, since that is not my style, and I need to keep my husband, who gets antsy when surrounded by too much frilly-ness, in mind as well.   



Let's start with Lady Lamp....she and her twin sister (who, I'm sorry to say is still hiding in a closet) came home with me from a shopping trip at an antique mall wearing dirty, tattered pink tulle skirts and matching hats/lampshades. For this one shown here, I ripped all that off, gave her a new lampshade and sewed her a new skirt using scraps of decorator fabrics that coordinate with the rest of the living room. Instant fun in the living room! 

And what makes it even more fun is that the skirt is removable thanks to a snap closure in back--so I get to play 'dolls' with my lamp by putting her into a new outfit to suit whatever changes have occurred to the decor of the living room.   




I was lucky to get these two lamps, for the faces are very pretty-- which isn't always the case for lady lamps.  



Currently she shares the table top with her little angel friend... another doll inspired item....and a stack of books that includes some childhood favorites, and that are, of course, about dolls or little girls who play with dolls.  



What keeps this from being too gushy and feminine? (well, I'll admit it's still pretty feminine...but that's the direction the living room has gone in recent years)
  • eliminating the frilly, fussy pink tulle
  • using a tailored, simple lampshade that still has a bit of curvy-ness to it
  • keeping the table-top vignette fairly simple and corralling the smaller things on a tarnished silver tray
  • using a stack of old books in the background to provide some faded and tactile texture
  • placing everything on a table with just enough decorative detail and painted in a pretty, but neutral color






Favorite books such as Rumer Godden's The Dolls' House and Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess (both illustrated by the wonderful Tasha Tudor) inspired me as a little girl, as well as more recently, to try and make my own dolls....




One of my favorites, a doll I patterned loosely after Francois Boucher's depiction of Madame Pompadour in a painting called Madame de Pompadour, has recently taken up residence on my fireplace mantle, which is located in our decidedly more masculine family room.  








How do I make this work here?  
  • The prettiness of the doll, the pink roses, the ornate pattern on the picture frame and candle holders is balanced by the straightforward, rustic texture of the metal votives and rooster and the graphic wood letters, not to mention the bucolic, rural elements contributed by Mr. Piggy and the horse painting.  
  • Displaying 'Madame Pompadour' in a bell jar in this setting turns her into a visually interesting focal point and keeps the whole vignette from looking like a little girl's room.  




Thank you for visiting!


Linking to the following this week....



Best of the Weekend at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
That DIY Party at DIY Showoff
The Scoop171 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Amaze Me Mondays at Dwellings
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Bouquet of Talent at Life on Lakeshore Drive
Party in Your PJs at the Cookie Puzzle
Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Share Your Style at Common Ground
Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop at Ducks 'N a Row
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Your Turn to Shine at Canary Street Crafts
Idea Box Thursday at Mila's Little Things
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Inspiration Board Creative Party at Carolyn's Homework
Inspiration at Live Laugh Rowe










Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mother's Day Tea Inspiration



Do you enjoy taking all the inspiration that's out there, whether it be in books, magazines, movies or TV shows (can you say 'Downton Abbey'?), or historical places, and recreating and interpreting that in your own home?  I certainly do-- and my Mom enjoys this kind of thing too, so I thought I would create a Mother's Day Tea for the two of us-- based on one of our favorite Mother's Day activities, which is to go to the Huntington Library Tea Room.  




High tea, low tea, cream tea, light tea... I've done a quick read-up on the history of traditional afternoon tea in preparation for our tea celebration, and found that here are many different types of teas.  




A tea-scones-jam-cream Tea ('Cream Tea'), a tea-scones-sweets Tea ('Light Tea'), a tea-savories-scones-sweets-dessert Tea ('Full Tea')-- according to this website, all of these are considered 'low' or afternoon teas if they are served in the afternoon on low tables (i.e. coffee tables) near sofas or chairs in drawing rooms.  





Note, 'savories' typically means little finger sandwiches.  I'm not sure what the distinction is between 'sweets' and 'dessert'--possibly one or the other includes trifle?  Sounds good to me, I love trifle-- although I did not make trifle for this post, since it is a time consuming dessert to prepare...anyways, back to the subject at hand...'High' Tea includes all the same things, but is served in the late afternoon or early evening on dining room tables (hence the term 'high').  




There is a long laundry list of rules and protocols for how to prepare tea, how to serve tea, how to hold the tea cup, what to do with your fingers (pinkies up and held at a tilted angle), how to stir tea, how to drink tea (never slurp)....In bygone days, ladies wore elegant tea gowns....People had gorgeous silver and fine bone china tea sets.... Tea was, and still is for many, an occasion.




Creating an 'occasion' is what I tried to do with the tea celebration I'm featuring here in this post.  I tried to incorporate many of the key elements that we look forward to every time we go to the Tea Room at the Huntington, including the beautiful setting (the Tea Room is located in a lovely little structure that overlooks the rose and herb gardens on the expansive grounds of the library/museum--click here to see what it looks like) and a yummy tea buffet.  If we are lucky, we get a table by one of the tall windows that looks out over the gardens, and for a little bit, I can imagine what it would be like to live on a grand estate surrounded by acres of rolling, pastoral landscape, peopled with Greek and Roman statuary....to sit in my rose garden...to enjoy a little tea celebration surrounded by my favorite pink roses.....


I tried to recreate some of this in my own home....





I believe what the Huntington Tea Room offers would be considered a combination of a Cream Tea and a Light Tea, with a decidedly Californian twist, for their menu not only includes the standard tea items, such as tea, scones (with whipped cream, jams, and lemon curd), a variety of little sandwiches, and various pastries, but also various cold salads, fruit, and a selection of cheeses and spreads (including hummus) to go along with several different types of nice crackers and breads.  While I can't recreate the impressive setting, I can certainly bake up a few tasty treats........including lemon bars...




...cream scones with dried cranberries....




I made these shortbread sandwiches using store-bought shortbread and ganache (so simple and easy make, click here for the recipe)....






I brought out my red transferware.....







......along with some of my silver pieces and roses from my 'rose garden', to create a charming tea for two.







The advantage of creating this kind of celebration at home is the opportunity to make it personal with your own things and photos......this is my Mom as a young woman...this photo was taken in 1943, when she was 18 or 19.






I started this little tea inside in the afternoon on my coffee table (a 'Low Tea'), and then moved outside to my front patio, by my overgrown rose bushes (I suppose this would be considered a 'High Tea' since it now sits on a higher table).  I loved the soft colors and the gleam of silver in the late afternoon sunlight....










Everything was pretty in an entirely different way the next morning.......



Colors were a little brighter and more vibrant.....










For the record, we actually ate this tea in the late morning...which technically isn't the proper time for a traditional tea.  But I've never been a stickler for tradition, and, after all, that is one of the joys of doing this kind of thing in your own home... you can do whatever suits you best.  I confess, I had coffee, not tea, with all these little goodies since my brain requires lots of caffeine in the morning.





I must thank my devoted staff for all their assistance during the creation of this post. Dolly did her best to help throughout by persistently getting in the way, and both she and her sister Rosie (who hid timidly inside when this photo was taken) were very diligent about cleaning up any crumbs that fell to the floor.  

My happy little trip hazard.


Thanks for visiting!

Linking to the following this week....


Best of the Weekend at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
That DIY Party at DIY Showoff
The Scoop169 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Amaze Me Mondays at Dwellings
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Bouquet of Talent at Life on Lakeshore Drive
Party in Your PJs at the Cookie Puzzle
Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Share Your Style at Common Ground
Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop at Ducks 'N a Row
Foodie Friday & Everything Else at Rattlebridge Farm
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Your Turn to Shine at Canary Street Crafts
Idea Box Thursday at Mila's Little Things
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Inspiration Board Creative Party at Carolyn's Homework
Inspiration at Live Laugh Rowe
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Summer Entertaining Link Party at HomeGoods