This morning I took a long walk around the neighbor with my dogs. I overheard a fellow dog walker across the street ask, “what time’s the party?” and when I rounded the corner, a little girl was twirling around in her front yard with a big bouquet of pink balloons, a shiny pink “5” floating proudly in the middle. Her mother was puttering in the yard as she twirled, and just past her in the driveway was a big inflatable slide, surely huge and and shining with promise to her little birthday girl self.
As I continued past the house, all of a sudden I caught a whiff of kids’ sunscreen, and I was instantly transported. I couldn’t help but grin, a huge ear-to-ear smile that took me totally off-guard. It was one of those olfactory memories that comes out of nowhere and takes your breath away. That smell was pure childhood summer to me — vacations up the CA coast, beach trips and running around the infield at the racetrack. Sunshine and swimming in a lake. Sandwiches, sodas, and giggles. I could practically smell the Italian bread we’d buy on our way to the races, a scent that mingled with sunscreen as my sister and I squirmed away from my mom, much more interested in lunch and the cookies that would follow than whatever hypothetical sunburn might befall us. In my mind’s eye I could see the geese that would honk and hiss at us despite our well-meaning offerings of bread (it was too good for them anyway… oh, that bread!). The grass under our feet as we ran from the far end of the infield to the other, determined to try to get a glimpse of those beautiful horses twice in one race. The feel of a cold can of black cherry Shasta I’d eagerly fish out of the cooler. Or the feel of the warm lake water of Havasu as we splashed outside the houseboat, life vests bright in the sun, and my dad eternally tidying and hanging up soggy towels. The games of Acey Deucey we’d play those evenings, betting with piles of little river stones, our foreheads slightly pink from the day despite repeated applications of sunscreen.
I had a happy childhood. Summers felt like a golden time, and that unexpected waft of sunblock on the breeze this morning made me remember just how beautiful summers can be. This year, as we stretch our wings and rediscover the world outside our front doors, I’d like to try to hold onto that golden, joyful summer spirit. We didn’t care if we were sweaty and tired. It was all about the joy of the moment… and those moments smelled like sunscreen.
This weekend is Mother’s Day. It is a time to celebrate motherhood, yes. But it is also a very complicated holiday. “Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path.“ The lovely Ann Lamott expresses this complexity with beautiful candor, and her words got me thinking: I love my mom dearly. She is still alive to celebrate with, and I am lucky to have had a happy childhood. Also I have chosen to remain childfree. I feel like Mother’s Day is a holiday that is about my mother and not me, but maybe there is room for the aunt-ing and pet parenting and mother-hen-ing of friends I do, too? Regardless of how I eventually answer that question, I have enormous compassion for the day’s complications, and the women who bear them gracefully, silently, and with a certain amount of internal rage or sadness. I see you if you’ve lost your mother. If you are estranged from your mother or your children. If you have a difficult parent/child relationship. If you’ve lost a child. If you’ve yearned for children and cannot have them. If you have children and yearn some days for something different. There is nothing wrong with perhaps wishing for a solo glass of champagne instead of shepherding a crowd of kids and moms-in-law et. al. to IHOP when you don’t even like pancakes. I see you all, and I’m sending you love.
For a little enjoyment this weekend, here are a few things to make/buy/watch/savor:
This delightful tote is perfectly French and effortless. Wear it all spring and summer on your breeziest of weekends.
For some light and easy sweetness, may I recommend Julia Turshen’s Afternoon Cake? I make this regularly and it could not be simpler or more satisfying. Just use the nut flour of your choice (I like almond flour) instead of finely grinding your own nuts to make it even quicker. Makes one perfect olive oil cake, citrusy and not too sweet, to enjoy for any reason — or no reason at all.
I am deeply inspired by this “secret” antique revival trend spotted by Caitlin over on stylebyemilyhenderson. Mixing old and new is right up my alley, and the color and pattern combinations are swoon-worthy. It makes me extra-happy to have my childhood wood dresser mixed into our living room decor! Also I may or may not have my eye on some vintage nightstands…
And finally, I’ll leave you with the cutest video I saw all week, a stealthy otter worthy of his own spy film franchise. Because otters! Happy weekend, friends.
It’s April, the month of spring sunshine and mint juleps, and right now I am super inspired by soft minty hues with pops of orange. It is such an invigorating color combination, don’t you think? The grounded calm of mint green with an energetic little (or big!) zing of orange, bronze, tangerine, rust, or terracotta is just what I’m craving. These gorgeous interiors do it so well! Swoon, sigh, yes and please.
If you’re as inspired as I am, here are some beautiful picks for your home to get you going, from total bargain to splurge-tastic. Helle Mardahl’s Bon Bon vessels had me at hello, but a poppy orange tray on your coffee table would have the same visual impact. Of course, Rothko’s color juxtapositions are spot-on, and how cute is that microwave? (I have it so I’ll answer — it is adorable.) Happy shopping, and enjoy!
Congratulations to Justina Blakeney on her new book, Jungalow: Decorate Wild! In her most personal book to date, Jungalow is alive with Blakeney’s signature bold colors and patterns, mixed textiles, and plants galore. She centers her adventurous designs squarely amidst her own beautifully mixed heritage and encourages all of us to do the same. I found this to be not only a delightful design perspective, but a timely reminder amidst increasing polarization that we are all enriched by the “magic of mixing.” Cross-cultural food, art, music, design? Yes and please! Her mixes are artful, collected, and so stylish (amazing!) while also being grounded and respectful of deeply rooted traditions. As she shared in a book talk recently, she believes strongly in respecting cultures and supporting artisans. Her seriousness in this regard is matched only by the playful exuberance she brings to decor, and her earnest belief that we can all thrive, grow, and express our creative selves in the home we cultivate for ourselves. Bravo, Justina! I couldn’t agree more.
Jungalow is a feast for the eyes, full of Dabito’s stunning interior photography along with shots from Blakeney’s own travels. The colors are saturated and exuberant — such a delight after a dreary year! Pick up a copy and you won’t be disappointed, I promise.
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You know when the stars align and there are just tons of things out there making want to open your wallet? Here is a mismash of items I’m loving right now:
I’ve had all the heart eyes for Jonathan Adler’s Ripple mirror for ages, and as of yesterday it is HANGING IN MY HOUSE. Guys, I am so excited. It is exactly what I wanted for our space – fun and modern, a little quirky, and the perfect foil for some of the more traditional elements I’ve incorporated into our decor. Here is a little peek at how I styled it, if you’d like to see. I couldn’t love it more!
Right now Kate Spade is knocking it out of the park with playful, beautiful summer accessories — exactly the kind we need after such a dismal year. I kind of want one of everything. The Catch bag in that perfectly brilliant shade of blue came home with me, but I am equally smitten with the sweet Buoy wicker bucket bag. And how perfect would that ocean-inspired wave card holder be paired with Shelly crab crossbody? Adorable! We can all use a little kitsch right now, no?
I haven’t talked about it here on the blog much, but coffee is a pretty serious undertaking in my household. My husband used to be a barista, so he (and now I) really appreciate a good cup of coffee. Enter: the Fellow Ode brew grinder. I can absolutely see why the Specialty Coffee Association named it their best new product of 2021 — it is just that good. Super quiet, super stylish, and by far the most consistent, even grinds we have gotten on a home grinder. If you love coffee and like to brew it at home, I highly recommend putting your dollars toward a good grinder. It makes all the difference.
Of course, the pandemic is still on my mind these days. Please allow me to also share some great reads on it as related to women, expectations, and realities:
I have long admired LaTonya Yvette and her feminine, resonant representation of Black womanhood and community. Her blog series Sex Stories is an honest, raw, heartfelt look at sex and relationships (or lack thereof) during COVID times. Savor them individually or binge them all right now. Trust.
As I was browsing for a coffee table recently, I realized that a) there were several I LOVED, and b) all of them were the wrong shape and size for my living room. Wah-wah. I needed something oblong, and narrow enough to allow for comfortable clearance between our facing couches. All those round and square coffee tables of my dreams were a solid no-go. Sigh. I eventually found some great contenders, but it was a bit of a journey!
Just for fun, today I share with you five coffee tables I loved that I couldn’t get, along with five that I could. Double the five things, double the fun!
As you can see, a very specific aesthetic had lodged itself in my brain. I loved these for their chunky bold look and clean lines. Three legs were also a theme. I mean, look how gorgeous these are! Swoon, amirite? I could just see a stack or two (or four) of beautiful art books on display, pretty as you please. But sadly, we were not meant to be.
Not only did I need something oblong and relatively narrow, but it could NOT be brown, to avoid brown overkill with our our leather couch. Way to make it harder, huh? I cast my net wider and looked and looked and looked. And looked. And gradually, some lovely options coalesced from infinite internet land. Interestingly enough, even though none of these options were originally my “dream” table, I think the assortment below feels a whole lot more like “me” than the ones above. Less minimal, more eclectic and collected, a little richer, a little more glam. I could easily see any of them fitting into my home beautifully and seamlessly.
So what did I go with? Well, I found a spectacular dupe of the Anthro table here for a great price, plus there was no need to wait for a backorder! Hooray, a clear winner! I love it and am so excited to play with styling this weekend. Airy, open, a little Deco, a little glam, and the perfect size.
Lately I’ve noticed that a certain blue-y, green-y goodness has been threading it’s way through my inspiration boards. Equal parts serene, moody, and playful, I just can’t get enough these days. I particularly love it combined with other colors in unexpected ways, especially dusky hues like mustard yellow, burgundy, or rose — or all of the above!
As you may have been able to tell from my post last week, lots of comings and goings with my home decor of late. I’ve refreshed my Spaces and Sources page this week to reflect that — so feel free to go down the rabbit hole browse to your heart’s content this weekend. Enjoy!
If you are unfamiliar with the children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, I should warn you that things do not stop at a cookie. He will then require a glass of milk, a straw, a napkin, a mirror, some scissors… the dominoes begin to fall, and it’s all downhill from there. If you ARE familiar with the book, then you may well know where I am going with this. My dear readers, I must confess: I am a mouse. A house mouse. I am not sure if it was the dawn of the New Year or the profound anxiety and subsequent relief of the changing of the guard, presidentially speaking, and along with it the shiny sense of a new day, but I have been on an absolute bender of a home refresh. Nothing as calculated as a specific room, mind you. No, no, it has been as meandering and quaintly maddening as the cookie mouse’s whims. Buckle up, my friends…
Quarantine has been a weird time. Most of us have been lucky enough to stay healthy — home and bored and feeling cramped while the world falls apart outside our doors and friends or loved ones fall ill. Boredom and doom see-saw for our attention. What has remained constant, though, is our collective need to make our homes work harder for us. Dining rooms have become home offices. Home offices have become playrooms and homework rooms. Bathrooms have become many of our sole opportunities for solitude. My own January saga began when the bottom drawer of my dresser broke. Ugh. Dressers are surprisingly expensive, folks. After some online browsing I turned to Facebook Marketplace, bought a dresser for a fraction of the price of a new one that I was assured was solid wood, and then once I got it out of the car the following morning, realized it surely was not. The broken one I had was much sturdier. So. We put or heads together, moved a few little things out of the living room, and voila! An underutilized space in our living room was suddenly rife with functional storage. AND with some elbow grease and wood glue, I was able to fix my old dresser. Win, win!
My appetite was whetted, folks. Soon I was mentally lamenting the wasted space that our pair of mismatched desks left in our “study,” aka the small area between our dining space and our bedroom. My desk was too deep and too tall for me — a kind hand-me-down from my in-laws at least a decade ago. Maybe I could get our home office space to work harder for us, too? An L-shaped desk could help perhaps? I was on a budget, but I thought a pair of simple Parsons-style tables could work if I couldn’t find an L-shaped desk to fit the space properly. Ikea had a ton of different options to customize last I knew, so I hopped online and found just the right sized items. Except… they were all sold out. Every style. Every finish. Most leg options. Currently unavailable. COVID-19 had hampered supply chains AND there are a ton more people working from home, so I was out of luck there. One excruciatingly long internet search later for something inexpensive, inoffensive-looking, and the right dimensions, I eventually found a pair of desks on Amazon. They arrived two days later, and victory! I listed our older two desks for sale and had buyers within a few days, but we had the too-big desk smack in the middle of in a major walkway for a way too long while we waited for it to be picked up. Wah-wah. It made me crazy for those few days, but the payoff was worth it! Functional new desks with room for both of us, and no space wasted.
Not long after this episode I was sitting on my couch, looking through the doorway of our kitchen. My admiration for all the various glass display cabinetspopping up in beautiful home spreads magically collided with my continued desire to use our spaces more effectively, and *lightbulb* I knew what I wanted to do. Another comically exhaustive internet search followed, resulting in my procuring the very last display cabinet in stock of any model at any Ikea in California. The black framed glass Milsbo was MINE ALL MINE and it was perfect. I was elated. Drunk on victory. Rearranging and plate-stacking and styling made our kitchen prettier AND more functional. Success (again) was sweet. Wasted space begone! Storage is here! Except now I had a spare side chair to find a home for…
I began adding and subtracting and moving and shuffling in the living room. I wondered if perhaps a small table and pair of chairs would work at the far end of our living room. (I should mention that around this time, the striped side table I’d been wanting to add to our living room had arrived. So now I had a spare side chair AND an extra side table, full disclosure.) In the end, a pair of our dining chairs and a stool migrated and made a nice bit of additional seating in our living room, the original extra chair was rehomed at my dining table, and my sweet niece inherited the side table for her new bedroom. All was well. Except…
Again, while lounging on the couch scrolling through my Insta feed watching Netflix my gaze wandered, and it occurred to me that out of all the artfully mismatched chairs around my dining table, none of them were actually the ones I loved anymore. My favorites now were residing in the living room for the guests we’ll get to have once upon a dream and far far away. I started thinking a matching set of chairs could be a fresh, harmonious change of pace after going with mismatched chairs all these years… you see where this is going, don’t you? Spoiler alert: our hero bought a set of chairs. Beautiful mid-century ones. Except now she (I) had 6 (six!) extra chairs to find homes for. Up for sale they went. And my sweet niece now had a pretty velvet chair to go with her new table.
Same tale for the DIY mirror on the dining room wall that I replaced with a sleeker, more geometric option. My cloud mirror now lives in my bedroom, but to make room for it, I had to move an old TV that I hated having out in the first place. So then I thought, well, why don’t I use this opportunity to make room to store it by cleaning some things out? I was selling my dining chairs anyway, so I figured I could get rid of some items I had languishing, disassembled in the back of the closet. Up for sale went a couple end tables, an old art print, a wall hanging, the faux fiddle-leaf fig that I relocated earlier in the pandemic… I was on a ROLL. Out with the old, in with the new, bitches! This girl was on fire!
Then, while proudly showing my mom a photo of our newly freshened dining room, I decided realized our entryway cabinet was now “too much brown” with our new dining chairs. Eye roll. Forehead slap. Yep, I even annoyed myself. Yet another exhaustive search ensued, except this time… I came up empty! Nothing attractive, affordable-ish, and the right size materialized. I was stumped. My phone was crying for mercy with low-battery warnings after repeated searches, because I was SURE I just had to figure out a slightly different search criteria to find the right thing. Google would not fail me, right? And yet, still nada. Finally, I had a sudden surge of creativity born out of desperation. A small cabinet I was using for odds and ends near my desk, freshened and beautified with a whopping $8 investment in forest green spray paint, became the perfect answer to my entry conundrum! And goodbye to the too-big, too-brown old cabinet. VICTORY! All it took was yet another round of shuffling things into different storage spots. Eeesh.
By this time, however, I was starting to get frustrated by the fact that our theoretically freshened, beautified, more functional home was actually starting to feel like a cluttered warehouse. Some but not all our old things had sold, and extra storage or the luxury of a garage are not part and parcel of our 1920s home. Today, after a buyer bailed at the last minute AFTER I assembled a table for them to pick up — dear reader, I snapped. SNAPPED. I was cranky and annoyed and my poor long-suffering husband had to listen to me very un-gracefully rant about people who don’t follow through while I piled as much extra furniture as I could into the back seat of my little car, just to get it OUT OF THE HOUSE.
And here we are. If you have made it this far, I salute you and offer my thanks. All this to say that home — and our concept of it — is ever-evolving. There often is no such thing as “done” or completed or finished. We are living, changing beings with a myriad of needs and wants and aesthetic desires, and it’s okay to change our minds, or refresh and refocus what our homes are and how they function. Also, the middle is always the messiest! To make changes you need to pull things apart and rework things before they come together, so don’t despair if you are in the middle of a project — whether it is a large scale remodel or some small-scale organization — and you want to tear your hair out. It will come together. Trust. I know my house will feel more “done” soon. And it will be worth it — it will be the home I need and love right now.
Going into this new year, I’m stretching my aesthetic muscles a bit! My sister is moving into a new house, and asked me for a bit of help getting it decorated. She is looking for a farmhouse sort of vibe — clean, light, a little rustic, and a lot cozy. Our styles are very different, so I’m excited to stretch myself a bit AND give her family a fresh new start. Without further ado, let me show you what we’re planning. First up, the main bedroom!
I love bold color, pattern, and modern quirk, so a more minimal and rustic look is a fun challenge. She had already picked out a bedroom set in a grey-toned wood, so I pulled in some warmer wood tones to give the room a cozy, layered feel. A patterned rug gives some interest as well as some brightness to the space, and a little hit of black in the bedside lamps adds depth. Being me, I had to add a little bit of pattern mixing — a sweet floral block print sheet set is just interesting enough with the geometric rug, and when paired with a fluffy white quilt, it feels super home-y. She also wanted some added shelving, so a low bookcase at the foot of the bed it just the ticket. Plus it can double as a bench! Win-win!
The main bedroom in their new house is much bigger than her current space, so she has room for a sitting area in here as well. A blue velvet slipper chair, an airy accent table, and a natural wood floor lamp make for a great spot to sit and read, unwind a little, and decompress from the day, or perhaps to get the day going with a cup of tea. Either way, I hope this bright, serene bedroom provides them a with lovely retreat, and a happy new place to call home!