Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'll Drink to That!

Sometimes milk hits the spot:

                                             Source: via Beth on Pinterest
Other times you need something a bit stronger:

                                                    Source: via Beth on Pinterest

Monday, August 29, 2011

All About Autumn

Summer somehow managed to slip right past me this year. It's technically not over for a few more weeks, but with school starting and Labor Day right around the corner, for all intents and purposes, it's over. And I never got to enjoy it.

It was one thing after another this spring/summer: job, animals, health scares, and now a late summer heat-wave.

I hate to sound like I'm complaining. I mean, despite what Giles and Smooch may think, the new dog is a wonderful addition to the family. And the kittens were so much fun (and so destructive, but that's another story).

But it didn't leave me with much time or disposable income for fun this summer (although I did get to visit my friend in Oakland). So all of that is to say that I'm just not ready for fall.

In an effort to get myself in the mood for the upcoming change of seasons (despite 100-plus temps), I've put together a few reminders of why I love the cooler days of autumn (sweaters! pumpkin pie!).

Clockwise from top left: Eiffel Tower, Pinterest; coat, H&M; Ever-Present Satchel, Anthropologie;
Mad Men Collection bracelet-sleeve jacket, Banana Republic; tea cup, Pinterest; Marc by Marc Jacobs boot, Lucky magazine; pumpkin pie, Pinterest; Pour La Victoire suede Chaney wedge, Lucky

What do you love about fall?

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm Mad About...

Via fōnuts
  • I'd heard about fōnuts and I'm happy to year they taste as good as they look!
  • Dream video team: The Muppets and OK Go.
  • This almost has me wishing fall would arrive already (but really, I'm still clinging to summer).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Serendipity in Blue

After a series of unfortunate events over the weekend, we ended up in my husband's hometown of Visalia, which is where we met. It's about an hour north of us, but we don't get there often because we really don't have any ties there anymore.

We had lunch at Erik's favorite Mexican restaurant, where he was warmly greeted by one of the servers who remembers him. Then we took a tour of his old neighborhood and walk down Main Street. Some of our favorite spots were still around, while others had closed. But this stopped me in my tracks:

Funny, isn't it? I remember the restaurant (called Fugazzi's—we ate there a number of times), but the Blue Room lounge is something new.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I See a Pattern Here

I ran in to HomeGoods the other evening to pick up something for the dogs (it has some great pet supplies at reasonable prices), but of course I had to take a quick look at the lamps. I'm searching for one in a soft green and blue for the living room. Then I spotted this:

Not exactly soft blue and green, but the pattern on the shade is strikingly similar to these pillows I picked up at Pottery Barn a few years back:

I managed to resist the urge to snatch up that lamp, but since I'm still thinking about it a few days later, maybe I should have brought it home. Of course, it's probably too late now—things go fast at HomeGoods.

What do you think—well-coordinated or too matchy-matchy?

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Mad About...

Via Anthropologie
  • Not only do I love Anthropologie's new jeans collection, as an editor, I love the names: Stet, Serif and Superscript.
  • Francophiles rejoice: The France Goes POP! festival is here.
  • Nicole's new office looks amazing! (And Sherry and John are working on their office, too; I can't wait to see the finished space.)
  • Ikea takes solar power seriously. Whether you love its furniture or hate it, you have to respect that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Colors of the World

Looking through my boards on Pinterest, I've definitely noticed some recurring themes: blue walls (of course!), white kitchens, big windows, sparkly chandeliers. Most of the rooms I'm drawn to are airy and feminine with subdued or neutral colors.

But when it comes to cities abroad, it's bright colors that catch my eye:
Images via Pinterest
Do these images inspire wanderlust? Where do you want to go this summer? And would you consider hiring personal packers?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pet Profiles: Mr. Chow

I have three dogs. I can't believe I have three dogs. What the heck was I thinking?

Over the years we've had an assortment of pets, some briefly until we found them permanent homes, some inherited from family members. The most we've had is five at one time, and never more than two dogs at once. In fact, two dogs and a cat is the perfect pet ratio in my book.

Then came Mr. Chow.

It was a Saturday in mid-May and Erik had gone fishing on the coast. I was expecting him home any time with a big box of strawberries. Then the phone rang. "I found a big dog with a broken leg," Erik said. "Meet me at the emergency vet."

And that's how I met Mr. Chow. Of course we tried to find his owners—postings online, in the newspaper, on mailboxes in the neighborhood near the area where he was wandering. Nothing. I really can't believe no one is missing him. He's 60 pounds of love and happiness. I'm over the moon for him.

Mr. Chow and Bitsy
The same can't be said for all the other critters here. Giles refuses to come in the house anymore (I think that will change when the weather turns, if not sooner), and Smooch, who prefers female dogs, insists on demonstrating his dominance, despite the 40 or so pounds Chow has on him. So far Mr. Chow has let the little dog have his way. Bitsy is pretty easy going and only gets upset when she thinks Chow is getting her share of the snacks. She yaps and he backs off. What a good boy!

It's taking time, but we're slowing getting into a new routine. And now that his leg is just about healed, I can start taking him to obedience classes. I'm also looking forward to walking with him by the river—he seems like the kind of dog to take on long walks.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm Mad About...

Via Made in Design

  •  I've never had much luck with fish as pets, but this fishbowl might make me try again.
  • Most awesome idea ever!
  • Loving the new look over at Arianna Belle.
  • I'm really feeling all the temporary wallpaper options these days. If I ever have some time and little extra money, I'm going to make one of these mine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In the Kitchen

I find myself drawn to white kitchens lately. It could be the clean simplicity of the color, the way it steps back and lets the food be the true star of the room. It could be that white works well with many styles of decor, looking equally at home in a country kitchen and in a sleek, modern space.

But, to be honest, it's probably because I have a white kitchen and, with no immediate plans for a major overhaul, want ideas to take it from boring and one dimensional to sparkling and inviting.

I love the bright, airy feeling wraparound windows give this Maryland kitchen:

Photo by The Washington Post via CocoCozy

Although I'm not sold on hardwood floors in the kitchen, the contrast of the dark floors against the white cabinets here speaks to me:

Kitchen designed by Carol Glasser via Home for the Better

I'm seriously dying over this glass-tile backsplash and the ingenious storage next to the range:

Hmm, what kind of seating do you prefer, upholstered stools or acrylic chairs? I love them both:

Sarah Richardson kitchen, left, via Decor Pad; Bailey McCarthy kitchen via Rue

What are you drawn to in a kitchen (besides the smell of cookies baking!)? Do you have a favorite one of these?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Scenes From the Weekend

The weekend was a busy one, with lots of cleaning, entertaining and a little design talk.

Designer Meghan Carter was in town on a book tour, and, even though I wasn't familiar with her, I decided to take some time out Friday evening and listen to her talk at Barnes & Noble. I'm glad I did. Meghan is the author of "The Meghan Method," a decorating how-to with a unique approach.

Decorating a room isn't about choosing colors, she says, it's about deciding how you want a room to make you feel. Once you determine that and "find your muse," or inspiration, everything else will fall into place.

I'm sure it's a bit more complicated than that. But expect to hear more from Meghan. She's an engaging speaker, she knows her stuff—and she's even more adorable in person. Her book tour continues this week in California and then heads east to Massachusetts.

Then Sunday I hosted a small gathering for my Cooking Light group. The theme was appetizers and desserts (and somewhere along the way salads were added), and we enjoyed bowtie pasta salad, artichoke tarts and meringues with fruit. And my sangria was a hit.

I created a simple tablescape with flowers in small bud vases, candles and bird salt-and-pepper shakers, and chose music that I knew everyone would like (Beatles, Eagles, Elton John). But the stars of the night were the kittens we found. Everyone loved them—but unfortunately no one took a kitten home. Sigh.

How was your weekend?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer Party

I'm hosting a gathering this weekend of the women in my Cooking Light group. We get together a few times a year and make low-cal, low-fat potluck dishes centered on a theme. This time we're doing appetizers and desserts, so I'm thinking buffet style is the way to go.

Our gathering won't be nearly this elaborate or stylish (and Bakersfield is hotter than hell in August, so we probably won't be dining anywhere without AC), but I'd love an excuse to decorate my patio like this:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Creamy and Dreamy Rice Pudding

I had a yen the other night for rice pudding, so I searched online for a recipe. My criteria was that it had to be easy and quick, and I had to have all the ingredients on hand, 'cause I wasn't up to going to the store. This recipe was the clear winner.

I had everything I needed: I bought the Arborio rice awhile back with the intention of making risotto, but I haven't tried that yet. And I always have cinnamon and vanilla extract on hand. (Notice everything is from Trader Joe's. Love that store!)

It was super easy to make. Just prepare the rice with water, butter and a dash of salt. Then combine it with milk (the recipe called for whole milk, but I used 1 percent and it was fine), sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. (If I'd had any raisins in the pantry, I would have put some in.)

One problem, though, was that Bitsy kept distracting me, wanting to play with her ball, and I let the milk boil over. Twice. Really gotta watch that. It made a bit of a mess, and the smell of burned milk stunk up the house, but it wasn't a disaster.

I halved the recipe since I wasn't sure if Erik would want any and I didn't want to get stuck with too much. Not that I would let any of it go to waste!

It came out pretty good. I'm sure it will be even better the next time I make it—I always get better with practice!

I topped it with a little extra cinnamon. Whipped cream would have been good too, but I didn't have enough cream on hand.

What I love about rice pudding—aside from the sweet, creamy goodness—is it's versatility. It can be served warm or cold, for breakfast or dessert, with raisins or without. Simply perfect.

Do you have a favorite way to prepare rice pudding? Or another quick and easy dish that you'd like to share?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Pinterest Challenge!

Last week some of my favorite bloggers—Sherry and Katie—and TV fav Emily issued a challenge to stop pinning and start doing!

                                                    Source: via Janelle on Pinterest

Since I've been thinking the same thing—I have almost 1,200 inspirational pins but have yet to actually implement any of the ideas I've come across—I decided to join in. And I had something in mind:

                                                           Source: via Beth on Pinterest

My space is a little wider than the inspiration pic, so I hoped to get more than one container in there. Here's what mine looked like:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sweet Summer Outfit

This lovely (and very affordable) retro dress has me dreaming of picnics by the river and long walks in the evening (although for that I might consider different shoes!). The earrings are perfectly me—I could wear them with just about anything (if only had I had an extra $2,500 to make them mine). And soft pink makeup is so pretty and summery.
Sweet summer outfit III

Where would you wear this outfit? Shopping with the girls? Lunch in the city? Do tell!