Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Spiders Keep Coming!

I've been on the road for work a lot lately and updating the blog has taken a back seat to getting a little sleep. I average 5-6 hours each night during travel season, but was able to catch up over the weekend. I'm facing my last week of travel with renewed energy.

This morning, Marc sent me and email with the subject "infestation." I groaned inwardly. We had just told his mother about the lack of bugs in the "new" house this weekend. Had we spoken too soon? Of course, there were photos attached to the email.

My husband is adorable. I don't know where he got all of the materials, but I think he did an awesome job. I'm not sure I could figure out how to make a spider web out of yarn!

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Going Retro: A Blog Award

When I first started blogging, blog awards were pretty common. The group of bloggers with whom I associated would pass these little awards around with questions in them. They reminded me of the list emails we'd share back in the early, early days of email. There would be 20 questions and you'd pass them around among friends.

Anyway, I was passed a new (to me) blog award by Suburban Charm, a Richmond-based blog, and it reminded me of my early days. It's called the Sunshine Award and here are the questions I'm supposed to answer.

1. Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to decorating?
 I can't say that there is one designer who serves as my biggest inspiration, so my answer to this one would be way too long.
2. What clothing shop is your favorite?
I would much rather shop for the home than for my closet, but J. Crew remains the store where I'm usually successful in finding great pieces. Living an hour from the company's main warehouse (One Ivy Crescent!) is definitely dangerous.
3. What is your "comfort food"?
Tuna salad on toast reminds me of being a little kid. These days, when I have that need for comfort food, I get a Spanish tuna melt from Feast.
4.What is your most cherished possession?
This is easy. No material object is more important to me than Baxter.
 Back at our wedding venue, Pippin Hill, on our first anniversary
5. Current lipstick color?
Thanks to VIB status at Sephora, my makeup collection has grown quite a bit in recent years, so I have plenty of lipsticks. I tend to prefer matte lips. Right now, I'm loving Ripe Fig by Bare Escentuals. They discontinued the color recently, so I'll be moving on soon.
6. If your luggage got lost on a week long trip, what three things would you have to purchase
 in order to survive the week?
A black dress, a great pair of slingbacks, and a pair of riding boots.
7. Favorite tote bag to use?
I've been carrying my kelly green, Kate Spade tote for years. Even though I own a second one in orange (wahoowa), I can't put my beautiful, green bag away. It looked so perfect in the dressing room at the Kate Spade store the other night that I snapped a picture of it.

I found a picture of myself wearing it from 2011, so the bag is at least two years old. The image is from one of Scarpa's annual sales and was taken by Dana, who writes the Style Forth blog and runs the image consulting firm, The Image Coach. This might be the first time I've shared of non-wedding day picture of myself on this blog. Talk about nerve-racking for me!

8. Most recent "splurge" purchase?
The leather Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams sofa we just ordered is the most expensive piece of furniture we've ever purchased. The only things we own that are more expensive are our cars and the house.  Marc loves that sofa, though. I can't wait to see his face when it arrives.
9. What charity is most dear to your heart?
It shouldn't be a surprise that the SPCA is our favorite local charity. 
10. Best piece of advice from a lesson you have learned in life.
The perfectionist in me learned that perfect can be pretty boring sometimes. If you think things need to be perfect, you sometimes feel as though you shouldn't attempt something if success isn't guaranteed. You miss out on some great experiences as a result. 
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Claire Pettibone's New Flagship Salon

Most of my shop tours are of stores I've visited personally, but when Claire Pettibone's team sent Elizabeth Messina's images of the bridal designer's new flagship salon in Los Angeles, I couldn't help but share them.

Pettibone's new salon is inside a castle-like building located in West Hollywood. Can you imagine a more beautiful, romantic spot to try on wedding gowns? The castle was built in 1928 by Curlett & Beelman using bricks from the original Los Angeles City Hall. The building was originally home to a famous muralist, Anthony Heinsbergen.

Claire Pettibone had noticed the building years ago. 
I have always loved this building since living in LA, and when it became available, I felt it was meant to be, given my devotion to history and appreciation for this period, but I am still pinching myself that we have moved into a castle!
All images are by Elizabeth Messina.

If you're in the market for a wedding gown and are in southern California, you might want to visit the salon for their upcoming sample sale!

Claire Pettibone Flagship Salon
7415 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
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Monday, October 7, 2013

From the Hoop

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have caught a glimpse of the embroidery projects on which I've been working. I was a little nervous at first, but within a few days, I was able to make some pretty towels for my mother-in-law's new kitchen.

Back when I removed my old monogram from our towels (some might have been horrified, but I didn't care to see it anymore), I was puzzled by the white fabric that was embedded inside the threads. Now I know that the material is called stabilizer. When you embroider, you have to have a stabilizer fabric on the back of your fabric and you often need one on the front, too. The loft of towels makes stabilizer needed on top and bottom. 

Underneath the fabric, you can use a few different stabilizers. The debates about which one is appropriate get pretty passionate. I use a little tool that tells me what to use based on the fabric with which I'm working. For the kitchen towels, I used a tear-away stabilizer. Some swear that there are better options, but it worked great for me.

When you finish stitching a design, you have to remove the top layer of stabilizer. Most people use water soluble stabilizer on top, which washes away after a few moments under running water.

After letting the towels and designs dry, here's what I had:

 My mother-in-law liked them so much that she asked me to make a few sets for her to give as gifts.She asked for autumn designs and colors.

I've also been working on some projects for my nephews and my little niece, who is going to be a peacock for Halloween.

My nephews like Star Wars, so I went looking for some cute designs that could work for them. I found the most adorable Luke Skywalker applique design for them. Applique uses fabric and embroidery to create a design. It's a bit more time consuming than embroidery work because you have to start and stop the machine work often. You stitch a little, then trim fabric, stitch a little, and trim fabric. I hope I get better with time. It took me about an hour and a half to make this trick-or-treat bag:

I'm glad I started making these early! I have quite a few more to go!

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Different Prices Across Different Pottery Barn Divisions

I need to buy some rug pads for our living room. I used to have the inexpensive ones you can pick up at HomeGoods or TJ Maxx, but I decided it was time to invest in better quality mats. Since Pottery Barn sent us some discount codes when we moved, I figured I'd buy the rug pads online and get a nice break on the cost.

So I went to Pottery Barn's website and found a premium, 8x10 rug pad for $109. It had a $25 delivery surcharge on top of the shipping cost, which probably means this comes on a roll as opposed to folded up on a little box. Still, the delivery charged seemed a little steep, so I decided to click around and see if I could find a better price.

We got discount codes for PB Teen, Pottery Barn Kids, and West Elm in our "new home" mailer, so those were my next stops. They seemed to have the same rug pad on the PB Teen website, but they were calling it Deluxe instead of Premium. The descriptions were identical, including the use of the words "our premium rug pad," so I think the items are the same.

PB Teen's pad was $99 with a $25 delivery surcharge. That was better, but the seed was planted. What would the rug pad go for on other PB sites? So I went to Pottery Barn Kids.

The price was $99 with no delivery surcharge on the PB Kids website.What about West Elm?

The price is even lower, but that $25 surcharge comes back into play. Of course, now I'm wondering if the shipping charge might be waived if I order the rug pad in the store (I doubt they'll have them in the store, but that would be a nice bonus).

Here's a summary of all four price and shipping options I found within the Pottery Barn brand:

Isn't this interesting? The Pottery Barn customer pays the most, then comes the person with teenagers, then the West Elm customer (seems like a 20-something demographic), and then the people shopping for nursery items at Pottery Barn.

What's your reaction? A friend who is a PhD in economics wrote "Price Discrimination!" the second I shared this with her. Mine is to close the browser and order my rug pads from a different website.
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

What's in a Name?

I'm deviating from my usual home projects because I've been thinking about something for a few weeks. This isn't a very eloquent post. Just some thoughts.

Here in Charlottesville, we have a very special place called The Haven. The building itself is used for all sorts of things, but for many people in this town, it's a day shelter.

Many (most?) shelters open in the evening and close in the morning. They provide a safe place to go at night for the homeless. During the day, we have The Haven. At The Haven, folks can get online, do laundry, take a shower, watch TV, and receive mail.

The Haven has a secure room where guests can store a box with important papers or belongings. I didn't even know they provided all of those services until recently.

A few weeks ago, I saw a sign flipper on the highway. You know those guys...they usually dance and flip a big sign around to advertise something. They aren't common in this area, so when one appears, it definitely gets my attention. The one I saw was flipping a sign that said "The Haven."

His sign was advertising this Haven:

The people who developed a "town center" style shopping center here in Charlottesville called Stonefield seemed to have two names for the apartment complex in the center. It's called Stonefield Commons on their website, but the URL and some of the signs say "Haven Apartments." Maybe they didn't google first? Maybe the developer has used the Haven name before on other properties? Regardless, it was pretty funny to see the sign flipper with a sign that said THE HAVEN on it.

The Haven is probably considered a comfortable, safe place for many people in Charlottesville. Some of those people are downtown and some of them are on the highway.
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our Big, Giganitic Halloween Spider, Part 1

I love Halloween. Even though we lived in a condo for eight years, I bought bags of candy each October, thinking that we just might get trick-or-treaters at our door. The only time we had a little one in costume show up was when we told a neighbor to bring her daughter by. We dumped the whole bowl into her bag. Every other year, Marc and I have eaten the candy between Halloween and Thanksgiving. I consider it akin to getting a base tan before going on vacation. We prepped our systems for holiday food with all that candy.

We are amped up for our first Halloween in a real neighborhood. We have five kids on our cul-de-sac and plenty more on the surrounding streets. We are so excited to finally have trick-or-treaters. I told Marc that we had to start thinking about our decorations a few weeks ago and I came home to some giant spiders in the living room that evening.

Marc told me that there was one more spider he wanted, but didn't get. It was a massive thing at the Plow & Hearth outlet, but he wasn't sure I would want it. I imagined putting it on the roof right over our front door and told him to grab it the next time he was driving by the store.

A few days later, Marc came home a little sad. The staff at the Plow & Hearth outlet said the spider had crept out the door just moments before he arrived. So, I decided to try and make a huge spider. I googled a bit and saw lots of different methods for making a huge spider. There are all sorts of tutorials out there for using paper mache, balloons, PVC pipe, tubes from a clothes dryer, flexible drain pipes...I was dizzy with options. We figured we would go to Lowes and just wandered until we found the right materials.

I decided to use chicken wire for the body of the spider. That was easy enough to find in the garden center. We originally picked out small, black PVC pipe for the legs (the Lowes staff found us debating our plan in the plumbing aisle and they were so enthusiastic). Right as we got to the check out, we saw a guy with large segments of the insulation that is placed around pipes and we knew we had to trade out our materials right away. We went to back to the plumbing section like there was some sort of emergency. When we found the insulation tubes, we were like winners on Supermarket Sweep.

The cashier must have thought we were nuts because we were chuckling as we went through the check out process. We were so happy about our spider legs.

Once home, I started coaxing the chicken wire into shape. Are chickens unusually strong? Why is chicken wire so damn impossible to bend? Oh...probably not to keep the chickens in, but to keep things that eat chickens out. Oops.

When the spider body looked kind of like a spider, I started working on the legs. We consulted many disgusting spider pictures (and some videos) and decided to make the legs bend in two spots after the largest spiders we found in our research, the Huntsman Spider (so gross) and the Goliath Spider (so, so, so gross...seriously, don't click if you are afraid of sliders). I cut a wedge out of the tube at each spot where we wanted it to bend and then used black tape to secure the sides of the tube so the tube would stay bent.

I still have to cover the spider body with black, furry fabric, but we're pretty happy with where things are going.

I have to think about how to keep the legs reasonably close to the spider body since sticking the ends into the holes in the chicken wire won't be an option after the fabric is on the body. I might make the legs totally separate and have the body "sit" on top of a frame that is attached to the legs.

Stay tuned...

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Return Trip to Valerianne

I shouldn't have gone in there. I should have returned the swatches the nice staff at Valerianne sent home with me by mail. I happened to be just a few blocks away while in northern Virginia for work and thought it'd be better to drop them off in person.

Of course, we couldn't resist laying the swatches out again...and then adding some more options.

Analysis paralysis strikes again! I stood over the swatches I originally picked after about 90 minutes of indecision and second guessed them. Maybe I should switch to a different color scheme. Maybe the calm, soothing colors I thought I wanted weren't exciting enough. Maybe our bedroom needed "a pop of color" though that phrase is so clique it almost makes me cringe to type it.

I was strong. I rejected the new fabrics, though I might add one extra set of pillows to the bed so I can get a new texture on the bed.

If you love bedding, you have to see this beautiful, little shop. Just be forewarned that you won't get out of there without wanted to do a major overhaul on your bed!

New in the store: the sweetest, lace-trimmed guest towels. They were beautiful!

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