Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I promise I'll be back to some projects later this week. I just have a few housekeeping issues to bring up.

1. I updated my "About Me" page with a photo and some random bits of info about me. I asked for your advice and it seems like people don't need a long, drawn out bio about who I am, when I got interested in design, and why I'm blogging. I'm keeping it short and simple. If you have suggestions, I'm eager to read them.

2. The issue of HomeStyle my place is in came out last week. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get my hands on it. I think the article itself is great and it also features the home of Charlottesville blogger Gillian of Dried Figs and Wooden Spools. I will also say that I think Gillian and I have captured our places better with our own photography (you can see my House Tour page for my photos). The photographer who shot my place was lovely, but he was early and I wasn't ready for him. I should have taken a few deep breaths and insisted that he wait until I had my make-up done (and got my make up bag tucked away!) with everything exactly how I wanted it. I'm new to this sort of thing and didn't feel confident speaking up. Lesson learned.

3. I don't want to turn my blog into a wedding blog, but it seems like people don't mind a little wedding related talk now and then. Perhaps I'll keep that to a few Wednesdays here and there. Get it? Wedding Wednesdays? This won't be a weekly thing...just a once-in-a-while thing.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Small & Chic Wedding

There's a small and chic wedding in my future!

I'm not sure a decorating blog is the place for an engagement story.
Let me know if you want to hear it and I'll post about it.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Window Shopping

Macy's Herald Square, courtesy of Mizhattan

When I was younger, I absolutely LOVED seeing the holiday windows at the department stores. When I was a little older, I'd head out to the stores on Black Friday (not at 6 AM or anything like that) just to see the decorations and windows.

In Virginia, our department stores don't really have windows the way they do in Boston and New York. Thankfully, my aunt in Manhattan clued me in to a way to look at the NYC windows from afar. So, if you're staying home on Black Friday, but would love to see some holiday windows, check out the Sunday Window Shopping series of posts on the Mizhattan blog.

Chanel boutique in Soho, courtesy of Mizhattan

Kate Spade window, courtesy of Mizhattan

All of the photos from Kate Spade are fantastic!
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Spam from The Tile Shop

I'm floored. I just got spam from The Tile Shop. The Tile Shop in Richmond was responsible for a two month delay of my bathroom renovation and lied to me repeatedly about the quality and availability of their products.

A former employee of the store warned me that the cararra marble tile on display did not match the quality of the tile they delivered. She actually described the color of the tile they delivered as "urine yellow." I asked the manager about that when I was shopping and she assured me that the color problem happened many months ago and it was just a question of one bad batch of tile.

I should have known better. Check out the sample on top of the tile they tried to give me.

The manager said she'd track down tile that wasn't damaged, but never called me. I initiated call after call over the course of two weeks trying to get my tile. She said she was checking every store, but only after I wrote an email to corporate did she admit that "everyone" was trying to track down some tile.

Samples on the left, delivered tile on the right

Amazingly, the tile remained on display, with pristine samples lined up below it. I wound up buying my tile through an ebay seller, after checking numerous references. I was thrilled with the tile that showed up and with how my bathroom turned out.

I haven't heard from The Tile Shop in a year, which is why I'm so surprised to get a spam email from them today.
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My totally insane house search

I'm not buying a house.

You wouldn't know that from the way I've been acting lately.

I've been stalking the new home listings each day, pouring over data about the housing market, and studying the real estate blogs. Over the weekend, we toured the house that a family member is putting on the market in the spring. On Monday night, I convinced Marc to take Baxter on a walk in a neighborhood we didn't know just so we could walk by a cute house. We wound up meeting the women who lives next door, who had a key to the house ("That's the kind of street this is...we all have each others' keys!"). So, we had a "showing" after the woman sent a text to the owner. Baxter played in the neighbor's backyard with her dog and daughters while we walked around.

But I'm not buying a house.

Am I totally crazy?

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kelly Wearstler has some product to move

Everywhere I look, I feel like I see Sferra trying to unload some Kelly Wearstler product. I've seen her stuff on Gilt and Rue La La, I think, in recent weeks. I also saw a few shelves full of her pillows, table linens, and bedding at the Neiman Marcus outlet in Woodbridge, VA recently.

Anyone know if the price on this pillow below is better than the prices that were on Gilt? Just curious.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

My take on "What I Wore" blogs

I have to admit that "What I Wore" type blogs only made it onto my radar screen about year ago, when a few design bloggers either made references to them or started posting pictures of themselves with descriptions of the clothing items they wore. There was one blog (I don't remember the name) written by a young woman that showed pictures of her all over New York City wearing designer clothes. The word in the blogsphere was that the clothes were given to her, her boyfriend took the pictures, and she had a book deal in the works. This was her job. She was a model who had never worked a traditional modeling job.

When I started to see the "What I Wore" blogs, I had to laugh. First of all, my wardrobe is pretty much free of trendy pieces. I have an office job. I work in academia, but I'm still in an office for a traditional work day. One can't sashay around in over the knee boots and leggings here. By the way, did anyone notice stirrup pants in the windows of Gap stores this month? Ridiculous!

Now, just for fun, here is my week (so far) of "What I Wore" for all of the office dwellers out there.

Monday: Banana Republic pants & cardigan, J. Crew shirt, Franco Sarto heels
Tuesday: Ann Taylor top, Burberry skirt (I lived in Boston, remember?), Banana Republic boots
Wednesday: Ann Taylor cardigan, Banana Republic top and pants, Stuart Weitzman heels
Thursday: J. Crew blazer, pants, and sleeveless top, Stuart Weitzman flats

I imagine the little fashion bloggers would think "OMG! Not a stitch of clothing from Anthro. There's, like, a lot of black and she's wearing a suit. Ick."

Had these blogs been around when I was in my early 20s, I imagine I would have been all over them. Many of the fashion bloggers seem to be young and the clothes they wear point to them either not working or working outside a traditional office. They rave about Olivia Palermo. They love and/or belittle actresses on Gossip Girl while aspiring to be like the characters they play. They probably think my excitement for paint and color trends is totally bizarre.

Kudos to the fashion bloggers (like this one) who are a bit down to earth. I know there are more out there.

Do you read any of those "What I Wore" blogs? What do you think of them?
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Charlottesville's Mistletoe Market 2010

I have only started going to craft shows recently. To be frank, I think there's a lot of "stuff" at these things and being a fan of living small, they aren't really my scene. I went to Martha's Market this year to support the charity connected to the event and I went to Mistletoe Market to do the same. The Mistletoe Market is run by the Charlottesville chapter of the Junior League. I'm not a Junior Leaguer, but a member told me they only have two fundraisers each year, this craft fair and a casino night, so I figured I'd go to support them.

I headed to the market with Dana, my neighbor and the blogger behind Cville Fashion. She had already scoped out the market early in the day and was able to steer us away from the paraffin wax lady (no, I don't want to stick my hand in goo that's been used by hundreds of others, thanks) and towards the best samples. She also led me to Andrea Danner-Schultz and an impulse purchase.

This might sound silly, but I thought the colors were perfect for the kitchen and the size might be right for covering up the traditional phone jack that sits a eye level on the far wall. See it?

It is the perfect size and color...but the phone jack is in a strange place and the painting needs company on that wall to look right. I put the painting over the jack and used a bottle opener to keep it in place to get a feel for what it would look like.

It doesn't work.

Option 1: Live with the jack and find another place for the painting.

Option 2: Buy more paintings. The artist has some smaller versions for sale in her Etsy store.

Option 3: Frame the painting and center it in the space. It'll look better and might still cover the phone jack.

What do you think?
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lee Kleinhelter of Pieces on One Kings Lane

Back in September, I posted about a visit to a second hand furniture store in the Boston suburbs with unrealistically high prices. The one item I liked in the store was a large, mirrored chest.

I thought it was a bit overpriced, just like most of the stuff in the store.

Imagine my surprise to see this smaller piece in Lee Kleinhelter's sale on One King's Lane:

I think it's still over priced.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Before and after pictures from the kitchen

Don't we all just love a good before and after post? I finally get to add to my little collection now that the kitchen counters are done.

Here's what the kitchen looks like in an empty, Walker Square condo:

Isn't that a little sad? Last year, I painted the lame finish on the cabinets (they're wood, but not of the best quality) white and then painted the walls with Benjamin Moore's Secret. I was pretty happy with it, but thought the counters were a bit of an eyesore.

Now that the impala black granite counters are in, I'm really pleased. I think this finally looks like a nice, polished, condo kitchen. Are you ready for the after pictures?

I still love my turquoise accents. In fact, I think they look even better with the black counters.

I went with the double basin sink. The left side is very deep and I can actually lay my favorite skillet and serving dishes down to wash them in it. I had been worried about that. I kept the garbage disposal on the left, since that's where I scrap dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. The sink on the right isn't as deep and I'm using that to drain bottles and cans before putting them in the recycling bin.

The plumbing job wound up taking way longer than expected. Marc's brother-in-law offered to do the work and once he started looking around, it became apparent that it wasn't going to be a quick job. Just as there were problems with how the plumbing in the bathroom was done by the builder (no waterproof backing under the tile, little pieces and connections used instead of properly sized supply lines), there were problems with the kitchen. Two hours and a trip to Martin's Hardware later, things looked much better. Just as my water pressure improved in the bathroom after the plumbing was redone in there, my kitchen faucet is a little more powerful now.

I still have to do some painting, but I'm relieved that the last major project is behind me. Are we ever really done, though? Marc is convinced I'll find something new to set my sights on soon.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

How to clean a Dyson

Pardon me for starting the week on a cleaning note, but I found something out on Saturday that completely passed me by. Did you know that Dyson recommends cleaning two filters in their vacuums every three months? I had no idea. Just out of curiosity, I opened the top of my Dyson's canister and saw that the filter had little faucets all over it. That's what prompted me to look up this information.

If you have a Dyson, do you clean the filters? Did you know it was supposed to be done every three months?

My Dyson is at least two years old and I've never noticed the clasp that opens the canister. Shame on me for never reading the manual completely through, either! There's a second filter in my machine's ball that should be cleaned as well.

Unlock the handle and lay it down so the entire vacuum is relatively flat on the floor. Just press the blue button on the ball and part of it will come right off.

Then, hit the red button under that piece and the filter will be released. Tug upward a little bit and it will pop out completely.

How did I miss all this? All you have to do to clean the filters is run them under water (the top filter can be rung out, the bottom one gets filled and flipped over numerous times to clean it).

I guess this is such a common support issue that "How do I wash the filter on my Dyson" is the #1 FAQ in the support section of the Dyson website.

I should also add that while I think the Dyson is a nice vacuum, I don't belong to the cult that seems to rave about the thing. It's heavy. It's loud. Baxter is terrified of it. I think my old neighbor's bagless upright works just as well (her dog had a tendency to shred things, so I used her machine a few times while she was away). I was seduced by all the raving on message boards about the thing. I guess it's probably better than some cheap vacuums, but I don't think it's head and shoulders above other high-end machines out there.

I promise this week will have more fun posts than this. I'll have pictures of the kitchen now that everything is pretty much done in there, some art that I bought on a whim at Charlottesville's Mistletoe Market, a giveaway, and my little commentary on those "what I wore" websites. Buckle up. It's going to be a fun week.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

New kitchen counters

My impala black granite counters went in Thursday morning. The install of the counters took a solid two hours. I still haven't really moved much back into the kitchen. Tonight, I'll seal them and then take a new round of pictures with everything back in place. I have to touch up the wall paint, too.

I feel as though this is how the kitchen should have been done by the builder in the first place. However, in the other units, the granite used is brown and speckled. This just looks "right" to me.

Oddly, I can't really picture how the ugly, gray laminate looked anymore.

I'll have more complete before and after pictures on Monday. Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sometimes, I don't want to be "handy"

Are you the "handy" one at your house? I am. Sometimes, I wish I wasn't.

I wish I wasn't in charge of giving my dad the correct tool during projects or didn't watch my mother work under the hood of the Chevy Citation we had when I was a kid. I wish the public schools in my town didn't mandate wood shop for all 7th graders. I wish I hadn't bought a toolbox and filled it. I wish I didn't know all the aisles at Lowes. I wish I didn't know how to hang a chandelier, find a stud, and switch out a faucet. If I don't know how to do something, I hit the web and read about it. By the third website, I usually have a handle on the task.

Sometimes, I'm tired. Sometimes, I'm not confident about doing something. Sometimes, I want someone else to take care of it.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The counters are coming! The counters are coming!

The counter top guys are coming on Thursday morning! Between now and then, I want to clear out the drawers and cabinets that will be exposed to the dust of the installation. I'll also be moving my dining chairs to the living room for the morning and putting Baxter in the bedroom.

Last night, I decided to clear out the area under the sink so I can have the disposal and drain disconnected on Wednesday night without too much fuss. Here's the before:

Here's the after:

I've also been inspired by the EcoWomen to slowly switch over to more earth friendly cleaning products. I thought I had done that long ago, but have realized that some companies do a lot of marketing about being green and might not have the best practices. Perhaps one day, I'll make my own cleaners to way my mother did when I was a kid (I thought everyone "made" Windex). Baby steps for now. The "Green Works" stuff is going and the Seventh Generation products are moving in.

Unless someone tells me Seventh Generation is problematic. I hope not! I did some research on them and they seem reputable.
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Monday, November 8, 2010

In the closet

I finally came out of my little funk yesterday and decided to organize my closet. This was one area that needed some serious simplification. After some ruthless purging, I had two tupperware bins of clothes that are destined for charity.

Speaking of charity, what do you think is the best place to drop off your cast offs? I used to send everything to the SPCA Rummage Sale, but I got yelled at the last time I went because I arrived at 1:50 PM and the end of intake there is at 2 PM. After that experience, I started going to Goodwill. I'm not really sure what Goodwill does with the money raised at their store, though.

Anyway, back to the closet. Here is the result of many hours of sorting, folding, and organizing.

Holy moly, I have too much stuff. Despite all of this, I probably wear the same 10-15 outfits to work. I have vowed to try to wear more of my wardrobe from now on...at least until it snows. When it snows, all bets are off.

I put most of my summer stuff in the deep, bottom drawer of my large dresser, but put a few things up high, just in case I need them at some point in the winter. Who am I kidding? There is no way I'll be need my bathing suits for the next few months.

Do you see my one, solitary orange box? Aren't you proud of me for NOT putting it on display somewhere like some people do?

I wear exactly three pairs of those jeans and I almost never wear belts. Still, I couldn't toss any from either category.

I'm on a simplification kick, I think. Maybe I'll try to tackle one project per day to ward off any possibility of being accused of hoarding.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

The kitchen sink

I'm still in a partial fog (anyone else have this nasty, little bug right now?), but I'm actually up this morning and thought I'd post about picking the kitchen sink.

I have a double sink right now and I don't like it. When I try to wash a pan, I have trouble because neither bowl is large enough to sit the pan down. If this were my forever home, I'd switch to a large, single basin sink. However, between watching real estate shows and talking to the guys in the showrooms, it seems that most people want a double basin sink. So...what to do?

Here are the double basin options. The first two have one large basin and one smaller one. The third has equally sized basins. All are under mount, of course.

I have a garbage disposal that is attached to the left basin of my current sink. I think I would keep it there. If I went with the different sized basins, should the garbage disposal be attached to a large basin or small one? I think it should be on the large basin, but I'm not certain.

The single basin options are little more basic: square or rectangle. I think the squares are for people with deep counters or corner sinks, so I'd go with the rectangular sink on the right if I did the single basin.

Because of the input I got in the showroom, I think I'm going to go with the double basin sink with the larger basin on the left. I'm not crazy about double basins, but at least having a larger area on one side will allow for larger pans to be cleaned.

I'm curious. Do you have a single or double basin sink right now? Do you covet the other style or do you like what you have?
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Thursday, November 4, 2010


We're babysitting this adorable little furball until tomorrow night.

Baxter is pretending that this is a horrible imposition and that the little guy is a pain in the neck.

But he flops on his back and lets the puppy pounce and nibble on him.

I guess he can't resist this little face, either.

It's a golden retriever-poodle mix, in case you were wondering.
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