Showing newest 12 of 20 posts from April 2011. Show older posts
Showing newest 12 of 20 posts from April 2011. Show older posts

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Singing the blues ...

"Blue skies, nothing but blue skies from now on."

Translating those song lyrics into soothing spaces is easy when using blue decor to create a relaxing retreat in any room.  But, bedrooms always come to mind when I think of introducing shades of the sky and sea.

The photo at left via Brabourne Farm features a crisp, light-filled dreamscape of predominately white finishes with blue accents - always a cheery color story.

The bedrooms below provide a calm, cool oasis for rest and relaxation in powdery shades of blue. I'm also noticing that all of the bedrooms have upholstered headboards. That additional softness echoes each room's comfortable personality.

Image above left from Your Nest Design. At right is a master retreat designed by Jan Showers. Her sleek tailoring, modern art and patterned carpet add to the muted blue decor that is hotel suite worthy.

Character abounds in the rooms above, yet they are gracious, calm spaces - a bit feminine and playful, with multiple shades of blue playing nicely with neutral tones. Images via House Beautiful (left) and Sarah Kaye (right).

Blue need not be confined to bedrooms. It is equally at home in a dining room, kitchen or bath.

I particularly like the dining space at left that is refreshing and refined. Again, blue really loves being paired with white. It's a natural, just like sky and clouds.

Image via Elle Decor.

Damask for drama ...

For most of my life, when damask was mentioned, I thought of dreadful, heavy, red, flocked damask wallpaper.

I blame it on the movie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown - showing Molly's grand home with really tragic Victorian decor created from too much money and too little taste.

But, lo and behold, damask has evolved and so have my views on what I once considered a stuffy pattern. Today, damask graces dinnerware and pillows, modern wallpapers and contemporary woven rugs. This is haute stuff!

At left, the silver metallic and turquois damask wallpaper creates a fresh-faced foyer for welcoming guests. Beautiful!

In both of the photos above, black and charcoal damask steals the show. The wow factor is at work in these transitional settings via Fabulous Finishes (left) and Chic Home Couture (right).

Image via Free Bridal Shower Themes.

The damask-patterned focus wall in the bedroom above gets an amazing, stenciled, metallic paint treatment. I love the neutral color scheme that is subtle, yet striking. Public rooms are also great areas to tone down the hues and turn up the drama.


True love is achieved above with the damask walls setting the stage for a modern table and beautifully upholstered chairs. The photo from On Sugar features a brilliant color combo of plums and greens.

Variations from the same color families are used below with dramatically different results. Bold and memorable, wouldn't you say?

Image from My Home Ideas.

Okay, I'll admit damask is so much more than a dowdy dame from yesteryear. I do believe I'm growing fond of the delicious transformation made by this pattern. I could be tempted ...

Before & After: Media cabinet

They say necessity is the mother of invention. So, it stands to reason that ownership of a lot of media equipment necessitates the invention of custom storage solutions.

Thanks to my super craftsman hubby, we now have a perfect media cabinet to house all of our audio visual electronics and hide the miles of wires and less attractive components. I detest seeing wires, and he has brilliantly managed (even with all this equipment) to only have two wires coming out the back, one for the power and one for the cable connection. Bless you!

Hubby started with three 4' x 8' sheets of medium density fiberboard (MDF) and crafted the entire project without nails, using biscuits and glue to join the pieces together. He built the cabinet with a removable back for easy access to the wiring and adjustable shelving for storage.

A dark mahogany stain was applied, concealed hinges and door hardware added and eight heavy-duty casters attached for ease in moving this beheamoth measuring 41"H x 64"W x 25"D.

Hubby designed the piece for his Man Cave with a transitional style that works perfectly with our decor and supports a rather large television for movie nights (when I'm invited) and sports (when it's guys only time). Great job, my love!

Rain dancing ...

I'm pleading, if you know a rain dance, please start moving those feet and swaying those arms!

Image of Sprockettes via Portland Ground.

There have been no April showers to bring May flowers. There wasn't enough rain in March, February or January to provide a droplet in the rain gauge. So, if you have any relationship with the gods of rain, please start dancing on our behalf.

Image via

We are now under water restrictions and the forecast isn't too promising. The global weather extremes have taken their toll on every continent with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts. We are on the parched end of the spectrum.

I just want to smell the rain and hear it tapping on my window panes.  Alas, my poor umbrella is suffering from dry rot! But, rest assured that I will be out playing in the rain the very first chance I get.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What's blooming: Prickly pear cactus

When you live in a semi-arid climate as we do in south central Texas, you can always count on the succulents to display their hearty blossoms even in times of drought.

Most of our property was once covered in cactus.

The Prickly Pear Cactus is abundant in our region of the country and provides much more than a spring show of blossoms. In times of severe drought, it can be a life-saving source of nourishment for cattle and other livestock. 

As these photos show, our cactus blooms in shades of red, orange and yellow. Over the years, hubby has curtailed their habitat to the perimeter of our property where man and beast rarely tread. Rather good for security, too!

For foodies like me, cactus (generally called nopales in our Mexican-influenced local culture) is a great addition to a meal.

I'm particularly fond of a dish called Pollo con napales (chicken with cactus). The recipe calls for canned cactus, but if you have access to fresh, it is far, far better. Napales are not hot or spicy, but the jalapeno in the recipe definitely provides a swift kick to the taste buds.

Another treat for the senses is blooming now as well.

Lovely Confederate Jasmine (above left), planted last year by hubby, is beginning its climb up the back fence and providing sweet aromas for man, hummingbirds and bees to appreciate.

Gold Yarrow (above right) has taken center stage in my Cottage Garden. It is the perennial sunshine among my plantings of blue and pink flowers and will bloom from now through November.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Earth Day pledge ...

In anticipation of Earth Day on April 22, we may want to consider what kind of present to give our dear Mother Earth.  Just like every mother, I'm certain she would like for us to be a bit less lazy.

At some point, she won't be able to clean up after us! Wow! That's real food for thought, isn't it?

Pull up a chair ...

Not every chair is a seat. Chairs with great bones often reincarnate into artistic and useful functions beyond a derriere parking spot.

You would think chairs grow on trees from the art currently on exhibit at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (above).


Hang interesting chairs on a wall to serve as bookshelves, clothes storage or an attention-grabbing ledge for display. Images via Bright Bold Beautiful.

Deconstruct an old chair and retain the ladder back and a portion of the seat to use as towel bars and storage. Brilliant! Photo from The Fun Times Guide.

Not motivated to be crafty? At least give that chair something to do when its not hosting friends at your dinner party. Max Attenborough photographed a bedside companion for books and accessories (above).

Now, I'll have to get those wood folding chairs out of storage and find a useful purpose for them. This will require some time under my thinking cap!

Keys to the cottage ...

With summer approaching, I am thinking of idyllic days at a waterfront cottage. Be it near a sandy beach or pristine lake, a summer cottage would be a joyful escape from the city. While a rental would be perfectly fine, I think building a little getaway would give me license to create a special place for leisurely pursuits.

Give me a parcel of land with a dense stand of towering trees along water's edge. I'm even liking the barn red paint. Image via Lake Front Classic.

I'll need room to plant and house potted herbs, veggies and flowers for cooking and display. Our guests will want to eat well and be entertained when they come to visit. Photo from Diana's Neighborhood.

An inviting kitchen and casual comfort in the seating area are must-haves.

Photos above from Jamie Salomon (left) and Screaming Meme (right) speak volumes about retreat living.

Bedrooms that take advantage of natural light and have shed all pretense really appeal to me. At left, NSK shows how to dress the room in perfect cottage style with clean lines, white-washed wood furniture, casual linens and bare windows.

Love it! Let's not mention this to my hubby just yet. He's busy with a growing honey-do list already.

Scrub me silly ...

I wonder how much time I would spend in a bathroom or shower room if mine were as beguilingly handsome as those below. Sure, I can take care of hygiene just about anywhere, but a space that washes over me with dreamy drama would make me swoon on a daily basis.

We can talk about formal baths later (I do love those, too.) But, today I'm inspired by rustic simplicity with a bit of wow, and the photos above and below (via Greige) tick all my boxes for desirablity.

Wood, stone and my favorite earthy paint hue is all it would take to send me to a happy place where, no doubt, my toes would end up a wrinkled mess from too much time spent soaking. I think that would be a small price to pay for luxury of this magnitude.

Add in natural light from skylights (and French doors for the uninhibited) and I could be blissfully happy and thoroughly clean.

Now, where is that bottle of vino I requested? Oh, could it be sitting next to the basins below? Image via Linen and Lavender.

Wood in a wet room just seems plausible when it looks this good. But, I wonder how much upkeep these surfaces require to maintain their beauty. No matter, I love them all.

Images via Architectural Salvage Antiques (left) and Better Homes and Gardens (above).

What's blooming: Poppies

In many countries, including the US, crimson red corn poppies are worn to commemorate those who have died in war. Even in classical mythology, poppies symbolize resurrection after death.

I have several varieties of poppies in our Patio Garden, and I must admit it's not for their admirable symbolism, although I like to think of their history as an added bonus. I just love how cheerful they look and how happy they make the bees (see photo below left).

In addition to the spring showing of poppies that re-seed each year, I am thrilled with the native Salvia that has bloomed despite our current drought. They are so showy and love full sun (which is abundant on our property.) With several varieties planted in various gardens and beds, we get a rainbow of colors from early spring through the end of fall.

Our Salvia Greggi 'Raspberry' provides great, long-lasting color in a rustic bed.

Two varieties of Salvia are planted in our Fountain Garden. At the back (blue spikes) is Salvia 'East Friesland.' In front of the fountain (white flower spikes) is Salvia Greggii 'Autumn Sage.'

The Cottage Garden next to my studio is finally showing some signs of life. Last winter's freeze really took its toll on many of the plants, so it's been a game of wait and see what comes up.

Ranunculus (planted from seed) in the foreground, the two surviving Guara are bearing delicate pink flowers and my perennial Delphinium are beginning to fill in nicely around our old statue of St. Francis in our Cottage Garden.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dressing the Easter table ...

A kalidescope of colors and joyful creativity are hallmarks of Easter tablesettings. Bring out your brightest and boldest linens, dinnerware and clever flings of fancy.

Indoors or out, best china or casual pottery, Easter lends itself to any setting that brings the hues of spring to the tabletop. Images above from Brabourne Farm (left) and Country Living (right).

A living tablerunner made of sphagnum moss laid down the length of the table is a novel idea. I love it! Photo from the clever minds at Constance Curtis Events.

Build glam nests at the table for your decorated eggs. Image via Big Y.

Forget the bunnies! I am absolutely smitten by these edible sheep. Who knew Milano cookies and marshmallows could be such a brilliant addition to the Easter table! Would you like to make some of your own 'Baa baa black and white sheep treats?' Click here for the Southern Living step-by-step guide. 

Picnic pleasures ...

Ahh ... the first picnic of the season ... just in time to watch Fiesta fireworks and enjoy a warm evening under clear blue Texas skies.

My rescued picnic basket and serving pieces are ready for the rites of spring.

Give me a blanket, a tasty bottle of bubbly, a basket full of finger foods and I'm all set to enjoy the gifts of Mother Nature.

It would seem that our dog, Kahlo is pleased by the prospects of a picnic as well.

This basket is a vintage beauty I picked up last week along with the pottery and glassware shown. I just can't bear disposables when the real things are so much more environmentally friendly. Hubby and I are trying to reduce our carbon footprints at every opportunity.

Even if you're a city dweller, a rooftop picnic can be just as cheerful on a spring day. Elizabeth Anne Designs conquers the ordinary with galvanized tin serving pieces and bright yellow blooms set against a urban skyline in the photo above.


Sharing a toast under a tree-shaded canopy is a sensational way to spend some time in the great outdoors.

Why not create a ethereal picnic setting at dusk like the one at left via Daily Diva Dish. Above right, fine foods are equally at home with champagne on a plaid tablecloth for an impromptu celebration.

No place to lay that blanket? A tailgate picnic can be just as much fun. I wonder if my super hubby might feel the need to own a vintage, red Ford Falcon Ranchero. I would promise to host great picnics just like the one in this charming photo from Sweet Paul Magazine.