Friday, September 30, 2011

Design Sponge Book Signing

I had the amazing privilege of being able to attend the Design Sponge book signing at our local Anthropologie last night. If you haven't read Design Sponge (the blog) it is a must read. Design Sponge is a design and decor blog that was started by Grace Bonney in 2004 and is sort of a Martha meets NYC. Everything is chic and trendy and fun. How couldn't they be with a founder who looks like this?
via Design Sponge
They crash some great houses all over the world and have regular columns that range in topics from business to DIY (which is my favorite). Some of my best projects have been inspired by them. Of course, I was insanely excited to hear they were launching a book and even more excited to hear they were coming through Seattle.

If you've never been to a book signing here is a tip: get there early.  The signing started at 6:30 and I was early. Once I had bought my book and gotten in line I had a 20 minute wait for signing (which is great). By the time I left the line stretched out the door. Our Anthro is two stories so the line snaked all the way down the stairs and out.

I was way too embarrassed to get my picture taken and I think I blurted out something inane like "I'm so happy you are here" but it was still a fun night. They served champagne and cupcakes and I got to shop. What more can a girl ask for? Oh and the book is great too.

 It is difficult to see in a picture but the cover is a really pretty coral color with an embossed gold design on it. Very chic and apropos.  Check out the adorable trailer they made. It really sums up what the book and blog are all about.

Design Sponge at Home (Official Book Trailer) from The Panic Room Videos on Vimeo.

You can pick up your book at Amazon but if you get it at Anthro you get a special edition with bonus pages (and hopefully you can get yours signed too!)

So fun! Hope you get a chance to see Grace at an Anthropologie near you.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making Do

Sometimes you just have to make the best out of what you already have. The bathroom vanity is definitely one of those cases. I do not like it. At. all. It is big and clunky and has these ridiculously deep drawers that just cause everything to run together and make a mess. For being so huge it seriously lacks storage.  Since replacing it is not in the cards right now I figured I could at least make it work. So here it is. The most boring and un-beautiful before and after.



I grabbed some scrap wood from another project and cut it down to make some dividers. The drawers are made out of some really cheap MDF which I thought about painting but decided it really wasn't worth the effort.

The nice thing about how deep these drawers are (7 inches deep to be exact) is that toothpaste and bottles stand up in them. Now with the dividers in place they don't fall all over themselves every time I open and close the drawer which I appreciate.

There you have it. The most boring, but surprisingly functional, before and after ever. Still, I wont cry when I can swap it out for something more like this


Or maybe more traditional like this


A girl can dream right? Anyone else having to make do? Like Anna from Directions Not Included said "I wish we all had money trees!" Can I get an Amen?!?!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Mantle Party

I've been messing around with moving towards some fall decor so this weeks Fall Mantle Party was great motivation to get working on it.

Here she is all done up

I added a cute little pumpkin for my antique mail scale (which was Daniel's and once held a petrified bagel) and a twine wrapped votive (which was super easy and I will post a tutorial for later).

I also made up a few book page pumpkins and the twine wrapped glass filled with branches from my yard (again tutorial to come). 

To balance out the orange pumpkin I added the butterfly for another pop of color. You know how much I love butterflies so I try to work them in to everything.

So there it is. A simple fall mantle which will probably get spookied up in a week or two as Halloween approaches.

Check out the rest of the lovely mantels over at The lettered Cottage's Mantle party and don't forget about the door decor party on Thursday.

The Lettered Cottage


**Anyone in Seattle going to the Design Sponge event tomorrow? I'll see you there!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Old & New

I went to use the library the other day and the light didn't work. Daniel had just put in new dimmers so the working theory was that a wire had come loose. We switched out the switches and gave it a try. No dice. After fiddling with it for a few hours we figured out that the fixture is weird and has a really deep socket. Somehow it wasn't making a connection with the bulb and was shorting it out. So, we decided to switch out the fixture with one from Ikea we had on hand. I originally bought it for the kitchen but it has been sitting in the laundry room since we moved in (ignore the mess of wires at the top, I didn't want to shorten the cord until I knew where it would be living permanently).

I thought the chandelier would fit in nicely with the library but I am not loving it. I think I want something more masculine and rustic as opposed to girly and flirty. We are living with it for now just to see if it grows on us but I've got other plans for it in the future.

The other lighting update is this little before and after



At night. Isn't the design it casts on the ceiling pretty?

We took a 30$ Ikea shade and plopped it on the existing brass fixture. But, I'm not sure I'm loving it enough to finish the project. It needs to be lowered and centered over the table and the fixture needs paint. I don't want to put money into it if I don't love it but I feel like if I don't finish the fixture I won't know if I really like it or not.

Indecisive much Em? (yes I talk to myself in writing) I loved the one Young House Love did but I'm not feeling mine.

What do you think? Am I way off or should I finish the project and see how it will look done properly? Are you as slow to me to pull the trigger on a design idea?


Linking To

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Monday, September 26, 2011

Yard Update

We had our last stretch of sun for a while this weekend so I took it upon myself to get a few more things done in the back yard. Here's what it looks like now (you can see the whole progress in pictures here)

I also cleaned out the side yard



I made the patio space with the landscaping rocks from our side yard. I'm going to use the side yard as a vegetable plot so getting rid of everything there has to start sometime.

My climbing roses have gotten out of control and don't really fit along the side of the house so those will have to go eventually too. I plan on putting them along the fence in the back yard. My garden book says I have to wait until they go dormant to move them though so they will be staying a while.

I also got the beds planted (and added my home made bottle tree).

Everything is spaced to grow and I have spaces for my bulbs that should be coming mid October. I'm so excited about having a spring garden (I ordered from Brecks and they are having a huge pre-order sale right now so if you are interested you should check them out).

There is still a lot to do with the back bed but we did get a new tree planted.

It is a silk tree. Normally they are greener but this is a hybrid that has reddish brown leaves. It grows really fast and will have a great canopy when it is fully grown which will shade the yard without being too dense. Even better, it flowers in the summer with the pretty feathery bursts of pink. This is a peek at what it will look like fully grown and in bloom.  (As a side note I've read a few things saying this is an invasive species in the south so if you live there it might not be the tree for you).

Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate' flower

There are still some branches and wood left over from the whole yard clean up

But we are getting closer to clean.

The only thing left to decide about the back yard is what to do about the other fence...

I would love to have a huge laurel hedge for privacy and to keep the yard feeling lush but the house next door to us sold so I want to wait to see what they plan to do with the fence.

I also got to mow the lawn for the first time in my life this weekend. I've never had a yard before so it was a fun experience (we'll see how long that feeling lasts).

This weekend was the first time since we moved in that we actually could use the yard. Daniel and I sat out and had lunch and enjoyed how serene and quiet it was. It will be a great way to get sun during the cold winter months to come and I am excited to throw some parties next summer.

Are you all ready for fall? I thought I was but after the beautiful weekend we just had I am not so sure.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Tuxedo Pillow DIY

I'm not quite as obsessed as Sherry over at Young House love is about pillow covers but these ones might turn the tide.

Check these out

Via E Tells Tales

E is great. You can buy them at her Etsy store or you can make one yourself following her easy tutorial. I'm cheep so I made mine. I wont bore you with the details since she explains how to make them better than I could but I will show you how I modified mine. Here he is:

See the difference? I left off the bow. I think it makes it a bit more masculine (which my husband appreciates) and I have it to add later if I want. I'm calling mine the tuxedo pillow. This is for the master bed, maybe it needs a friend? Something with ruffles? I used a heavy linen and I love the texture that it lends, a perfect accent pillow. Even if you are a beginner sewer this is super easy and fun to do. In fact I made more bow things (more on that later) 


Linking to
Just A Girl

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Thursday, September 22, 2011


It is almost officially fall folks (tomorrow is the autumnal equinox) and cooler weather is on our doorstep (at least in Seattle it is). The leaves are just now starting to change colors and I can already tell it is going to be a great season.

It always seems to start slowly with a few leaves here and there but when we hit November look out! Everything will be a riot of color. The great thing about fall in the North West is that we get flowers all the way until the frost. Check out these Autumnal Crocuses

I swear they pop up over night. The other morning I took the dog out and bam! There they were. I love the ghostly white stems and delicate lavender flowers.

The only sad thing about the coming holiday season is going back to work (though I do love what I do)

Being back at Chocolopolis means getting back in to tempering and molding and all around fun with chocolate (I'm the sort of assistant chocolatier).  Though when one works with chocolate all day can you really call it work? The season starts slowly so I am there only a few days of the week right now but come Christmas it will be my second home. But hey, it could be worse right? For now I'll enjoy this crisp and not too cold (yet!) fall weather and the time off I still have.

Anyone else love chocolate like I do? If you live in Seattle stop by and see me some time!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Light My Fire

It was finally cold enough Sunday to light our fire for the first time. Look how gorgeous our fire place is

My favorite feature (besides the fire) has to be the pokers. I bought these before we even closed on the house I loved them so much.

Aren't they creepy? I looked them up after I found them and they were going for 80$ at an auction somewhere out east. It made me feel better for paying 40$ for fire pokers for a fire we didn't even have yet.

We had a great night. Daniel drug the mattress up from the guest bed and we camped out on the floor in front of the fire all night. These are the nights that make me love my life even more. What about you? Are you ready for fall yet? Norman is.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Good Eats Challenge Week 12: Shrimp Cocktail

I'm not a fan of shrimp cocktail at all. You know the kind I'm talking about, those little rubbery pink things on platters at parties with super sweet sauce. This is not that kind of Shrimp Cocktail. Not only does Alton Brown's method give you perfectly cooked shrimp the sauce is spicy and tangy and delicious.

Here's the recipe from Food Network


  • 32 shell-on (21 to 25 count) tiger shrimp

For the brine:

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups ice

For the cocktail sauce:

  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup prepared chili sauce
  • 4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Few grinds fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sprinkle Old Bay seasoning


Using a pair of scissors or a serrated knife, make an incision down the backside of the shrimp, following the intestinal track. Eviscerate shrimp and rinse under cool water leaving shells intact.
Place cleaned shrimp into a bowl with brine and refrigerate mixture for 20 to 25 minutes. While shrimp are brining, place tomatoes, chili saucehorseradish, sugar, pepper, and salt in food processor andblend until smooth. Refrigerate cocktail sauce until ready to serve.
Place a baking sheet or broiler pan under oven broiler and preheat for 5 minutes. Remove shrimp from brine and drain thoroughly. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and dry on paper towels. In a large bowl, toss shrimp with olive oil and sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning, if desired.
Place shrimp onto a sizzling sheet pan and return to broiler immediately. After 2 minutes, turn the shrimp with a pair of tongs. Return the shrimp to broiler for 1 minute. Transfer to a cold cookie sheet. Refrigerate immediately.
Once shrimp have chilled, arrange with cocktail sauce in a martini glass or as desired.

The key to this recipe is the shell on shrimp and the cooking method. Broiling the shrimp ensures that it cooks thoroughly without becoming rubbery and the shell protects the shrimp further

The sauce is great too. We used Sriracha for the prepared chili sauce so it was quite spicy. If you aren't a fan of spicy I'd half the amount.
All in all I call it a win. Though I just can't keep this image out of my mind


Wining Again

I love corks. I hoard save them religiously and since we drink a fair bit of wine they have been piling up over the years. There are some seriously fun cork projects out there (thank you Pinterest). Here are a few of my favorites

How cool is this backsplash?

Or this wall art in Anthropologie?


I love this cork ball from Glam Granola and the recent Pinterest challenge

But I decided on making one of these


I did mine a little different though. Here's my finished results

I decided I liked the look of the corks on their sides because then you can see the different labels. 

As to the process:

Step 1: Trace a really big letter on to a piece of cardboard.

I just used some scrap cardboard and a straight edge.

Step 2: Cut out your letter

Step 3: Hot glue corks on to the surface. I started in one corner of each arm and worked my way out. There will be gaps but the corks are easily cut down to size.

Step 4: Enjoy the end result

You can see here how I had to cut down the little corks to fill in the edges. Again, it was really easy to do. My one piece of advice is to make sure when you are making your letter to measure out how big your corks are and how many you want on an arm. I cut my letter to be slightly smaller than two corks wide to keep the cardboard from showing.

For now it lives in the library on the TV wall

I'm really into monograms right now and they are popping up all over the house. Hopefully my husband stops me before I get to crazy with them. What about you? Do you drink so much you're drowning in corks like us? Any good ideas for them? One day I'd like a wall...