Monday, January 30, 2012

A Slight Detour

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Mine was, well, unexpected. I opened my door Friday night to find a one-eyed, blind and deaf dog on my front porch. We took her to the emergency vet to be sure she wasn't sick or injured (nope, just old and hungry and tired), then set about trying to figure out where she came from.

She had a tag and it looked like we might be able to track down her owner, but that turned out to be a dead end.

She's very sweet and smells much better since we gave her a bath! But I really don't know what we're going to do. We can't keep her. I'm already overwhelmed with pets and work and life and blogging and other commitments, and looking after a special-needs dog is very time consuming.

All of this is to say that if I disappear now and then and don't keep to my usual three-posts-per-week schedule, I hope you'll understand. And if you know of any blind dog rescues, I'm all ears.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I'm Mad About...

Leif via

P.S.: I meant to replace that last pic of my desk area in this post before I published it, but (as usual) I forgot. So here's a slightly more prettified version:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Taming the Cord Monster

If you work from home full time like I do (and even if you don't), you probably feel my pain. I have a full-fledged home office, with two computers (plus my husband's Mac), a monitor, a printer/fax—the whole setup. I dream of having a beautifully efficient workspace with nary a cord in sight. But the reality is that cords are a huge problem. They look terrible, get tangled and are always in the way when I need to move things around.

Of course I run my laptop wirelessly, at least some of the time. While I'd love to go totally wireless, some issues are holding me back, including price and security. And Erik just prefers to plug his computer in.

I hope to get a new router soon, because my gadgets seem to be overloading the one we have. Then maybe I'll be able to cut some of cords entirely. But in the meantime, I thought I'd try (again) to tame the beast living under my desk.

Here's what I was dealing with:

Scary, isn't it? And it my desk is visible from the entryway and living room, so I want to keep it tidy.

I started out with my trusty label maker and a few tools from 3M:

The first thing I did was see if there were any unnecessary cables. Unfortunately there weren't. So I replaced any too-long cords with shorter ones that we keep stashed in the closet. Then I untangled what I could and wrapped the ones going behind the desk in twist ties, and I taped the bundles to the back of the desk leg with painters tape. I covered the wires that run along the floor below my desk in this cord snake I got from Ikea awhile back:

The cables that connect to my laptop are always falling on the floor when I disconnect them, so I used the Command cord clips to keep them in place:

And I made new labels for the power strip, so I'll always know what goes where:

I thought about hanging it on the underside of the desk or the wall, but I need to be able to access it easily.

It's still a bit of a mess, but better than where I started:

I ended up not using the Command hooks. Lots of innovative, useful products are available to help in situations like mine, but it's hard to know what you'll need until you dig right in, and by then I wasn't about to run out to buy new things. But I have a better idea of what I'm dealing with, and I think this will work just fine for now—until once again I can't take it anymore and decide to do another overhaul!

How do you deal with the cord situation in your office or living room?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Putting Pen to Paper

I love the idea of personalized stationery. Like a signature scent, it automatically says "you."

Of course, it won't be much use if just takes up space in one of my drawers. Which is likely, since I rarely write letters anymore (although I do still like to pick out the perfect birthday card for friends and family).

Still, the idea of personal stationery is seductive. And these beauties caught my eye:
First row, from left: Gadabout Tete a Tete, Rock Paper Scissors; Sunny Botanical Personalized Stationery,
; Crane Queen Bee Stationery. Second row: Monogram Note Card B, Kate Spade; Bee note set,
Sugar Paper
; Fashion Lady, Flair Designery. Third row: Dog Notes & Calling Cards, Rifle Paper Co.;
Bicycle with Basket A2 Stationery, Paper Source; Owl Flat Stationery, Perideau Designs.
Lovely, aren't they? But which to choose?

You know I can't pass up cute dogs or adorable owls. But ever since I saw the Queen Bee set in Matchbook I haven't been able to stop thinking about it—and then I spotted the other bee. Of course, the bicycle reminds me of my beloved orange Townie. The monogram is very grown up—maybe a little too grown up. The botanical is sophisticated and cute (and bonus: it comes in blue). But then, I'd like to spend time with those two fashionable ladies.

Then there are other considerations: personalized or off the shelf? Letterpress? (And what does that even mean?) Recycled paper?

As you can tell, no decision is too small for me fret over! And don't even get me started on address labels.

Do you have personalized stationery? Do you ever use it? And do you ever get letters anymore? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Mad About...

So last night I finished reading Pride and Prejudice. My book group met on Tuesday to discuss it, so I'm only a few days late. (Much better than our previous book, which I didn't even start reading until after the book group met!) Plus, I already knew the ending, so it's not like anyone could spoil it for me. But the whole time I was reading it, I kept conflating two different movie versions and picturing Keira Knightley as Elizabeth and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I know he's a bit old for her (or she's a bit young for him), but I'd totally go see that movie.

Here are some things that caught my eye this week:
Selfridges via Condé Nast Traveler
  • British bookworms rejoice (at least temporarily): Selfridges London has opened a pop-up library of sorts on the ground floor of the department store to express solidarity with librarians as public spending cuts threaten libraries.  
  • Are you as inspired by the William Morris Project over at Pancakes & French Fries as I am?
  • Seriously, why did it never occur to me to start a blog about Trader Joe's?
  • All you Bay Area Eames fans, Zinc Details will host a showing of Eames: The Architect and the Painter on Wednesday. I watched it last weekend and highly recommend it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Sweet Side of Lemons

We spent a good part of Saturday picking lemons, oranges and grapefruit. Here's what the lemon tree looked like after we'd picked a few bags of fruit:

Bitsy likes to help out.

We picked 15 bags total from all three trees—and still have plenty left:

So what to do with all that fruit? We'll give most of it away, but some will go into baked goods. I've been trying to come up with new ways to use up some of the lemons. Last year I made lemon bars, and I'm sure I'll make more of those. But I wanted to try something new.

So this time I baked Meyer lemon sugar cookies, following this recipe. And they came out great! Sweet and lemony—Meyer lemons have a very distinctive flavor.

Erik took some to work and one of his co-workers was asking for more.

They freeze well, too, so I plan to make a bunch more and keep them around for snacking (they're very addictive!).

And using a grapefruit, I made a Salty Dog—perfect!

Do you have any favorite citrus recipes?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kitchen Cabinet Refresh

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday weekend and getting lots done—even if it's just lots of relaxing!

I've been keeping busy lately: I took the doors off the cabinets flanking the stove exhaust.

You may remember I was mulling the idea recently. It seemed like a simple enough thing to do, so I just jumped in. Of course, it wasn't just a matter of taking down the doors and putting in some tchotchkes.

The cabinets are custom built, but they aren't finished inside. A wire from the light above the sink runs through the back of one of them, and they all needed to be painted inside.

Here's what it looked like before:

See, they are tiny—I wasn't exaggerating!

I wanted to create a false back to cover the wire, so I cut out pieces of cardboard and painted them white.

I waited overnight for the paint to dry (the hardest part!), then moved in some colorful items I like having on display, including some dessert dishes, a recipe card file, and a soup and sandwich plate set that I love but never get to use because it's stored up on a top shelf.

Here's how it came out:

And Mr. Chow had to inspect my work:

I haven't filled in the holes from the hinges yet—I just painted over them for now. We're not sure we love it. Erik said that rather than looking like open shelving, it just looks like we took the doors off the cabinets, and I tend to agree with him. He suggested putting glass insets in the doors (little did he know that would mean work for him!), so we're going to try to find someone we know who has the right tools to cut out the center of the cabinets.

I'm also hoping to have some more work done in the kitchen this spring—new countertops (except the island), new backsplash, different lighting—so we might be able to get glass put in the doors then.

Stay tuned—I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm Mad About...

The (three-day) weekend is nearly here. I'll be spending it picking citrus and possibly baking some lemony goodies. Meanwhile, here are a few things that caught my eye this week:
Photo by Michael Yarish,
  • Get out your cocktail shaker—Mad Men is finally coming back March 25! (Newsweek is even planning a retro-style edition in its honor.) Yet another reason I can't wait for spring.
  • Love Apartment Therapy's clean new look, although I'm still trying to find my around the site.
  • I'll be watching this documentary on Charles and Ray Eames in preparation for my upcoming visit to the midcentury modern exhibit at the LA County Museum of Art. (I actually recorded the show several weeks ago, but now it's available online!)
What will you be doing this weekend?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Scoobie Snacks

I've been yearning to bake lately, but since I need to lose a few pounds, it's probably not a good idea to have homemade treats around the house. So I baked up some dog treats!

I've been wanting to try making dog biscuits, and when I saw this at Target, I was smitten:

I mean come on—it came with a bone-shaped cookie cutter! And I checked out the ingredients—no preservatives or other bad things. And made in the U.S.A., which is a big plus for me.

They were a lot easier to make than I though they'd be—just add water and oil, knead, roll out, cut and bake:

I like that I could see the oats in the mixture. And the house smelled all warm and oatey.

They came out great:

The dogs have been gobbling them up!

I'll definitely have to make more—but I'll need to find a recipe. Any suggestions?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Inspired by: Open Shelving

I have a couple of upper cabinets in my kitchen that are pretty much useless. They won't hold anything wider than a saucer, and who uses saucers anymore? I have a few odds and ends stashed in them, but lately I've been considering removing the doors and putting some kitchen eye candy on display.

The all-white arrangement here is clean and simple:
Southern Accents
Artwork is an unexpected touch:
House Beautiful via Sacramento Street
I'm considering displaying cookbooks:
Southern Living via The Estate of Things
This is so neat and organized. Hard to maintain? Maybe: via Lark&Linen
Happy and colorful:

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'm Mad About...

East Camp

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Warm Up to Winter

The short days and cold nights of January make me want to hunker down and cozy up, so I thought I'd round up some illustrations of my favorite wintertime activities.

Indulging in warm, hearty, comforting foods:
Circle B Kitchen

Spoon Fork Bacon

Layering sweaters and scarves:
What I Wore

No. 6

Reading by a cozy fire:
Elle Decor via House of Turquoise
And, of course, snuggling with the critters:


How do you like to keep warm?