Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gilt Group Fail

Remember how happy I was when I ordered a Serena & Lilly pillow from Gilt for an amazing price? I just got this email regarding my purchase:

Now, I understand when there are problems and I'm happy they tried to make it right by giving me a $25 credit, but I emailed back and forth with Gilt after that purchase to confirm the letter I ordered (because it didn't show up on the confirmation screen). I also recommended them to a friend who ordered the same item. I'll feel like a heel if her order is canceled, too.

One Kings Lane also had the same pillow for sale a few days later. I could have ordered it had I known Gilt didn't have the pillow I wanted.

This makes me a little leery of these "sale of the day" sites. I've ordered from OKL before (though the color of the item wasn't nearly as vibrant as the picture of the item and that item is now on sale at Gilt).

Has anyone else been disappointed with a purchase from one of these groups? I love window shopping, but after two not-so-great experiences, I'm not sure I want to take another chance on them.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I spy really great milk glass!

While at my boyfriend's mother's house last weekend, I looked up in the kitchen and saw a lovely sight. Milk glass! Not just any milk glass, but an ornate milk glass set in lovely condition.

Down came the pitcher so I could take a better look. This set belonged to my boyfriend's grandmother. I thought it was pretty impressive.

While we chatted, this pretty vase came out of another cabinet along with some candle sticks. I'm not one to go antiquing, but I was getting excited as this stuff was coming out of the cabinets.

I used to collect blue and white pottery, but it never made me as excited as all this pretty milk glass. I don't think I want to collect anything at this point (how long has it been since I mentioned that I live in a 785 square foot condo?), but I could see collecting milk glass. It's so pretty!

Do you collect something? Do you display your collection or keep it tucked away? Do you collect as an investment or to make yourself happy?
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A New York City work in progress

My awesome aunt and uncle are at the tail end of a huge renovation and redesign project at their place in Manhattan. I don't have before pictures except for pictures from Thanksgiving dinners and birthday parties, but I thought I'd share a few pictures of what has been done in their place.

This was such a big job that they moved out for a few months. Their decorator is someone who gets spaces in magazines, but I get the sense that my aunt and uncle haven't been very happy with him lately, so I'll refrain from using his name. Hearing a few comments here and there make me wonder if all professional decorators do things like bill clients if a tear sheet is faxed from a store where they shopped. If my aunt even mentions his name at a shop, the shop contacts him and he bills her. She stopped using his name after the first few times.

Anyway, on to the pictures. Keep in mind this isn't totally done. They still have a lot of furniture to buy and the drapes need to be redone.

Isn't this a neat way to have privacy in the city without sacrificing light?

More pictures, with captions:

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Monday, December 28, 2009

How much is this going to cost?

I got a call from A & D Custom Framing last Tuesday saying that the John Matthew Moore print they were framing for me was ready to be picked up. I might head up to northern Virginia sometime this week to bring her home.

Here's a really bad mock up of the wall where the print will eventually hang:

The problem is that the space looks like this currently:

Why the builder put the thermostat in the middle of a wall is beyond me. I've always been annoyed by the placement (and by the fact that it's an old school, non-programmable model).

I wonder how much it would cost to move the thermostat over a few feet. I'm not interested in a DIY job. While I have someone in to move the thing, I might as well upgrade the thermostat to a programmable model, right? Anyone have any experience with this? Is it exorbitantly expensive?
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Eye candy from our time at Granny's house

Taking walks while spending time at Marc's mother's house always has me in awe. She lives in a beautiful neighborhood with the beach on one side and a marina on the other. There's eye candy in every direction. Here are just a few of my favorite houses.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wreaths galore

Footprints courtesy of me and Baxter

Hot on the heels of declaring that I was keeping my Christmas decorations simple, I present my mother's wreath collection. My mother loves wreaths. She loves them so much that some rooms have two of them. I got pictures of all but two of them while I was visiting this weekend.

Inside of porch door

Guest room

Mantle (sorry for the blur!)

Inside front door (a little off center...oops!)

Front hall

Huge wreath over dining room credenza

A hallway

Close up of hallway wreath for the peacock feather lovers

Inside of garage door

Powder room door

Back door

I missed the two in the upstairs hallway. I guess I should be happy that she doesn't collect dolls or dust collecting figurines, right?

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

But what about TwoLulu?

I'd love to meet Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams. But I have to confess that I really want to meet TwoLulu. :)

Wait! I just found out that the DC MG&BW store has a Mensch!

All photos courtesy of Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams

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A simple Christmas

While I was visiting my family last weekend, I heard that the church my family goes to cut their usual holiday flower order in half this year. I believe the thinking was that people wanted to see decorations, but the overload of blooms that decked every corner of the church in years past would be in bad taste in light of the current state of the economy and job market.

I have to admit that I haven't felt the urge to decorate too, too much this year. I have four, seven dollar wreaths on the doors and windows and a Christmas tree. A few of the low branches from the tree became a little decoration for the bathroom. That's it. Simple. Uncomplicated.

Is anyone else keeping it simple this year?

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow day

The blog is having a snow day today. Despite the fact that we *only* got six inches of snow in northern New Jersey, where I'm visiting relatives, Baxter had a great time playing this morning. Back at home in Virginia, I've heard the snow was around the two foot mark in downtown Charlottesville. Pretty amazing!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

What's next for HGTV?

I just watched some teaser videos from HGTV and couldn't believe the direction these shows take the Scripps network.

Tough as Nails
First up, we have a show about Cindy Stumpo, a developer who builds homes in the Boston suburbs where I used to live (no joke, I moved six times during my Boston years). I was excited to see this little dynamo in action, but the show barely shows the behind the scenes design and build work. The teaser clip seems to focus on getting people to do their work, getting her daughters to get serious about the business, and getting her son (I swear, he must go to St. Sebs or Nobles) to do something other than hit balls at the McGolf driving range in Dedham.

Instead of showing this woman as if she's a chicken running around with no head, I hope the producers make this show about the business she runs. She has a budding empire and it's a shame to focus on silly family chit chat instead of the designing and building of beautiful homes.

Marriage Under Construction
As soon as I saw the teaser clip about this show, I thought that the idea pitched by a someone who reads blogs. A newlywed couple buys a fixer upper and I assume the show is going to follow them as they learn to renovate. It reminds me of the early years of Adventures in Renovating a Brooklyn Limestone (though I highly doubt Steph swears like the wife on the show does), Brick City Love, Russet Street Reno, and 86'n It.

I think the show has promise. I just hope it focuses on the renovation and not the sarcastic bickering that gets hinted at a little bit in the teaser.

The Antonio Treatment
I'll be honest. I didn't like Antonio on Design Star and I think HGTV is kidding themselves if they think this obvious attempt to have a guy show will work.

The rooms in the clip were...interesting. Or, as Jenny would say $^%&in ugly. That Design Tard label she made is going to stick after people see this show.

I might actually prefer watching back to back to back Trash to Treasure segments from Design Cents over the show that produces this kitchen.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like I need new floors

After the little flood at my place, I thought I'd handle having concrete floors for a while just fine. Well, let me tell you that this stuff is C-O-L-D! I'm tired of it! It's time to make a decision about my flooring.

I've gotten a lot of advice, read a lot online, and even consulted Consumer Reports (which I'm not a huge fan of since they factor "value" into some of their ratings, which skews the results). The floors were laminate when I moved in. I hated the blond color, but it grew on me. I personally prefer very dark floors, but in a tiny condo, they would probably make the place seem like a cave. My options seem to be: engineered wood, bamboo, or laminate.

Laminate is out. If I sell my condo in the next few years, I might be competing with units that have never had an occupant and those units have laminate and/or carpet. I'll probably need something better to compete.

Engineered wood is an options, but I didn't like the feel of the samples I saw. What's more, when the market slowed, the owners of the complex started offering upgrades to buyers and one of them was the engineered wood floors. So, I might be competing with owners who had the engineered wood put in.

Bamboo was the last option. I liked the idea of's different and might appeal to buyers. In addition, Consumers recently tested wood floors and mixed the bamboos in with the hardwoods. EcoTimber's stranded bamboo came out ahead of all wood floors and their non-stranded bamboo came in 4th place. It sounds like they are using old-growth bamboo, which is more durable and whatever process they are using to make the floors is a good one.

So, I think I might go for bamboo, but I haven't gotten enough opinions from owners of bamboo floors to make a final decision. Anyone have bamboo floors? Know someone with them? What do you think?

Just for fun, here are the samples I'm considering. I'd love to get the darker stain, but the darker bamboo floors aren't as durable as the natural ones. The process used to stain them weakens them, for some reason. There are two kinds of solid bamboo floors. There is the flat or horizontal variety, which is the kind that shows the bamboo's knuckles like this:

And there's the vertical kind that line the bamboo up so the knuckles aren't visible. The effect gives the boards long longs. I thought this kind might make my place look longer. What do you think?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pick a Pillow giveaway winner!

I'm so excited to have just completed my first giveaway! I just combined my followers list and the comment list that came from my Pick a Pillow giveaway post.

The lucky winner of a pillow of her choice from's fabulous selection is...

Jessica from

Congratulations! I'll be in touch to finalize your pillow and get your contact information. I hope you'll share a little picture of what you do with the pillow once it arrives!

Thanks for participating, everyone! I hope to have more giveaways in the future. I'm not aggressively seeking them out, but will happily put something together if I get contacted by another vendor in the future.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Framing Olivia

I took a road trip this weekend up to northern Virginia to meet with the David Freeberg, who is going to mount and frame the fabulous Olivia by John Matthew Moore (see my post about him from last month). David's an artist himself, but he is behind A & D Custom Framing in McLean.

When I first arrived, David was working with another customer who had something like three different pieces in the shop. The man kept telling me "he's worth the wait!" After a few minutes, out she came. Olivia.

Even in poor quality iPhone pictures she looks beautiful, doesn't she? I was giddy. Then we had some fun. Olivia is going to be on a floating mat over fabric. The first fabric David pulled was a buttery, wheat colored raw silk. It was beautiful, but it was a little too yellow. The next fabric was perfect - a beige linen. It seemed like an appropriate match for the subject, too! I was sold before he got it unfurled. Bonus: it was the more economical option.

Now for frames. David called Matthew and got a few suggestions. As the samples were put on the table, I kept going back to the 2nd one David gave me. Which do you like best?

My pick is the first on the left. It's got an nice shape, it's too thick or thin, has a natural wash to it, and it is dinged by hand a bit to make it more rustic. It seemed like a great match for Olivia.

While I was weighing the options, two different customers came in and were drawn to the piece. One woman was nearly freaking out over how beautiful it is and was so excited to hear that Matthew was moving his gallery to McLean (from Chevy Chase). Another complimented my choice of frame, saying it was the one she would go with, too. After she left, David told me she is an art professor at George Washington University, which was nice.

David also made an interesting suggestion to use high quality acrylic instead of glass in the framing. He said the glass would be very heavy and if it ever broke, it could damage the print behind it. I had been thinking that the broken glass would be bad for little paws and agreed.

The actual frame discussion didn't take too long, but David is such an interesting guy that I found myself standing in the shop talking for well over an hour.

I'm going to pick Olivia up next week! I can't wait!

Oh! Another person's piece from the same series of ewes that Matthew did was in the shop. He had a sepia print done for them. Pretty striking, huh?

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Drapes are done!

My drapes are done! Unfortunately, yesterday was a dreary, rainy day and my floors are raw concrete, so this after picture isn't nearly as impressive as I'd hoped. :)

Lucky me! My boyfriend brought me some gerbera daisies last week while I was sick. I put them next to my desk (where I've been chained because this is my busy season) and they look pretty neat with the grosgrain trim.

By the way, does anyone else totally reconfigure their living room for their Christmas tree? My desk is not next to the sofa, my side chairs are locked in place on either side of the console that holds the TV, and the accent table that used to be between them is in this picture...tucked between the desk and the wall. Maybe this only has to be done in tiny places like mine?

P.S. I'm leaving my giveaway open until the end of the day since there's no way I'll be doing a drawing until tonight. Hope you'll enter!
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pick a Pillow giveaway about to close!

Remember that entries in my giveaway to win a pillow of your choice (up to $70 in value) from are due by 9 AM Eastern on Monday morning!

Here's the deal:
The Prize: A pillow of your choice (up to $70 in value) from

To Enter:
1. Go to and pick something out from the pillow section (you can use the sidebar to limit the products by shape, color, material, etc). Your spending limit is $70. There are over 500 pillows from which you can choose!

2. Post a comment in the original thread telling me what pillow you chose.

Do it by:
Monday, December 14th at 9 AM Eastern

Want an extra chance to win? Followers of this blog will get a 2nd entry!

I will confirm the winner's choice by email, so you're allowed to change your mind. In fact, you probably will when you see all the options!

Small print: You must be a US resident to enter. If you don't have a blogger account, you can enter by picking the "Name/URL" option under the comment box. Enter your name and leave the URL line blank. Be sure to leave your email address!

Comments are turned off on this post. Go to the original post to enter!
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Almost done with the drapes!

Last night, I decided I had to see some progress on something at my place. The floors (ruined by a leak in a unit above mine) won't be done until the new year, so the drapes got my attention. I had a huge roll of 2/5" grosgrain ribbon that I wanted to use as trim for my black and white damask curtain panels. My next door neighbor thought the combo was nuts, but I'm really excited about it.

My goal for the night was to get the leading edge of one panel completed. I wound up doing the whole panel! When I get the second complete, I'll take a big picture. Here's a taste of what they'll look like:

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pick a Pillow giveaway!

I'm a little late posting today because I've been playing on the website. We're teaming up to offer a giveaway!

Originally, I thought I'd bit a specific item to offer, but I found myself picking out things for myself or for reader's homes (that I know either because they are "real life" friends or blogging friends who post pictures of their homes). I also started thinking about how little we shop for ourselves at this time of year and decided to leave the giveaway opened ended. Because the site has so much product, I'm going to narrow down the possibilities and make this a pillow giveaway. I've been pillow shopping lately myself and figured some of you may need something to throw on those sofas.

Here's the deal:

The Prize: A pillow of your choice (up to $70 in value) from

To Enter:
1. Go to and pick something out from the pillow section (you can use the sidebar to limit the products by shape, color, material, etc). Your spending limit is $70. There are over 500 pillows from which you can choose!

2. Post a comment telling me what pillow you chose, where it'll go, and why you like it.

Do it by:
Monday, December 14th at 9 AM Eastern

Want an extra chance to win? Followers of this blog will get a 2nd entry!

I will confirm the winner's choice by email, so you're allowed to change your mind. In fact, you probably will when you see all the options!

Small print: You must be a US resident to enter. If you don't have a blogger account, you can enter by picking the "Name/URL" option under the comment box. Enter your name and leave the URL line blank. Be sure to leave your email address!

Just for fun, here are some of my picks:

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