Monday, December 29, 2008

Jonathan Adler faves

We live in the middle of nowhere and don't have too much culture around us. There's lots of things that I will glimpse online but I rarely have the chance to see in person. So though all things Jonathan Adler may be the norm in some circles, they are not in mine and I was excited to get to see the store. Though lots of his stuff is not my style, there is plenty about his aesthetic that intrigues me and enough items that I really adore. Both Sean & I ended up liking the store more then we anticipated. I had to drag myself out of there to leave empty handed.

Here are the top 5 things that made me swoon:

1. two of these Morrow slipper chairs, please:

2. this chandelier:

3. these sconces for the kid's room:

4. We wanted to get an "E" and "S" for our bed. The backside is black with white needlepoint.

5. I liked this little cozy to get my new iPhone safe and warm. Santa surprised me with this great phone. I didn't know how much I should have wanted it! (I know, I know, it's not exactly back to the basics. Sometimes I lose my way...) If it helps, I don't think that I'll be purchasing this cozy but it has inspired me to make my own.


So...Sean & I had a really great time in the city, and we turned to the water being back on which was nice. I thought I'd give some feedback from our little excursion in bits and pieces.

first: I really do love train travel. In Europe, of course. But it was favorite mode of travel in Morocco and even for a trip jaunt to the city, I must say that the train seems the way to go.

second: I was not too impressed with the Knickerbocker. I know that I am spoiled with hotel rooms, and have stayed in some really great places but we continue to say after price-lining a room, "I'm sure glad we didn't pay full price for that." Even the places we really love seem SO overpriced. The day I find a place that I love enough to pay full price for, I will return again and again.

What's the best hotel you've ever stayed at? I'll have to post on my favorites sometime soon.

{image from cloud nine}

Thursday, December 25, 2008

O wonderful day!

{We have no water today and cannot cook, shower or flush...the gifts still sit wrapped under the tree...and yet it has still been and still will be - a wonderful day.}

Merry Christmas everyone!

{image from the Nativity Story}

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


When I saw this recipe on In(side) the Loop's great blog, I decided to whip up a batch of Amaretto to go with the cranberry liquor that I made for my sister. This recipe is so yummy and so easy. It was a breeze compared to the cranberry liquor.

Homemade Amaretto

3½ cups sugar
1 tbsp. instant coffee
1 oz. almond extract
5 tsp. vanilla extract
5 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 fifth [about 25.6 ounces] of vodka

Dissolve sugar in 2 cups boiling water. Add instant coffee and stir until completely dissolved. Remove from fire and stir in remaining ingredients. Be sure to taste, but consider yourself warned when you're making this at 9AM.

{yummy in cocoa, champagne, amaretto sours & lots more…}

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Little Women - Favorite film of the season

It gets better each time I watch it.

Oh Marmie, how I long for 'moral courage!'

Baby, it's cold outside.

Well we made it. At last, it finally feels like Christmas.

Snow, snow,

I just wanted to share a few pictures of Chicago at Christmastime.
Oh, how I love it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

colored lights

I have always been a white Christmas lights kind of girl.  So classic and simple and pretty.  Now I live in the desert where the lack of snow makes for a rather drab winterscape.  White lights just don't seem to cut it anymore. I went a little ga-ga when I saw this photo out of J.Crew.  All those big bright lights but not the least bit tacky or over the top.  Classic but happy classic.  

Well, I tried to do it and as with most well styled ads, it's easier seen then copied.  Bulbs that large don't come with a battery pack and who wants a cord dangling from the front door.  I'll have to get re-envisioned and try again next year.  

afternoon tea

I can't believe that I forgot to mention our most favorite tradition of all! Sean and I love to go have afternoon tea.  Whenever we are out of town, just the two of us, we try to make it happen. When we are in Chicago, we love to have afternoon tea at the Peninsula.   A huge selection of teas, little bites of wonderfulness, a quiet respite from the cold - we love it all. One day we hope to make going to "holiday tea" a tradition with our little ones (when they are not quite so little.)  For now, we'll enjoy this little tradition while it's still just the two of us.  

I can't keep a secret

I tried to keep this a secret from Sean but just couldn't.  I am having Vanille Patisserie deliver a box of french macarons to our hotel while we are in the city.  It' kind of funny because neither Sean nor I have ever tasted a macaron before, but we are both dying to.  You can only see so many pictures before you are

I'l let you know what we think.  

The owner of Vanille, Dimitri Fayard, is from France, of course and is suppose to be one of the top pastry chefs in the US.  I had him throw in a couple of his caramels with salt.  


a french Bulldog for the 12th day of Christmas

I'm going to go ahead and past the final "day of Christmas" post today too, as tomorrow I will be flying the hopefully friendly skies.  

As my final wish on my wish list, I would like to add one of these furry friends to our family. My mother likes to tell me that a dog would destroy my previous post, the lovely crewel rug. But for this face, I might, might be able to forego the rug.  

As it may be, I don't like to spend a lot of money on things.  Nearly always, the item or type of item that I like is the expensive kind.  Why is that?!  

French Bulldogs are not cheap.  My guess is that if this little guy doesn't show up on a sleigh, he won't be showing up at all.  

But at least then, I could get my rug.  Just looking for the silver lining.

Does anyone know how French Bulldogs do with chickens?

Anthropologie for the 11th day of Christmas

Have I ever loved a rug more?  I think not.  If is far, far more beautiful in person.  It is all delicious crewel work and though I love many rugs of this style, this one in particular has stolen my heart.  

You can find it here. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

teacher's gift

We went through lots of ideas before we decided upon a monogrammed pen as a gift for Mrs. Daw, E.'s teacher. Granted, it's not super exciting but we liked the one that we found, it writes great, it was a good price, and I am a sucker for anything that can be monogrammed.  

The company is called Retro 51 and they're tag line is "Life is too short to carry an ugly pen."  I don't know about that, but the pen is cute and old-school looking.

We decided to monogram the pen with "Mrs. Daw" rather then her initials as it seemed sweeter since that's what her students call her.  I was a little nervous about this and hope she doesn't think we just couldn't remember her name. (!)

We love you, Mrs. Daw.


Every time I read Jonathan Adler's manifesto, I can't help but smile. Clearly not in keeping with the "Wide Open Spaces" manifesto {should I ever have one}, but I love it just the same:

Our Manifesto

We believe that your home should make you happy.

We believe that when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right.
Unless the husband is gay.

We believe in carbohydrates and to hell with the puffy consequences.

We believe minimalism is a bummer.

We believe handcrafted tchotchkes are life-enhancing.

We believe tassels are the earrings of the home.

We believe in our muses: David Hicks, Alexander Girard, Bonnie. Hans Coper, Gio Ponti, Andy Warhol, Leroy Neiman, Yves Saint Laurent, and Madonna. 

We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown.

We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always.

We believe in infantile, happy emblems like butterflies and hearts.

We believe celebrities should pay full price.

We believe in rustic modernism: Big Sur, A-Frame beach houses, raw beams, and geodesic dome homes. 

We believe in Palm Beach style: Louis chairs, chinoiserie, Lilly Pulitzer, the breakers circa '72.

We believe our designs are award winning even though they've never actually won any. 

We believe in Aid to Artisans.

We believe dogs should be allowed in stores and restaurants.

We believe in mantiques - suits of armour, worn chesterfield sofas, heraldic tapestries.

We believe you should throw out your blackberry and go pick some actual blackberries.

We believe colors can't clash.

We believe in blowing your nest egg on our pots.

We believe our lamps will make you look younger and thinner.

We believe in irreverent luxury.

favorite song of the season

Homemade Cranberry Liquor

Each year around Thanksgiving, my extended family draws names to determine the person that they will buy for that Christmas.  For years and years we did a "real gift" and a "gag gift".  That tradition ended on a sour note and included something to do with an {read: my} ex- boyfriend and a {read: again, my} future spouse.  It was not funny and it quickly ended the gag gift tradition.  Many years have past. This year I had the 'genius' idea of suggesting that we again give two gifts to our person.  A purchased gift and a handmade gift.  As soon as everyone agreed, I quickly remembered that I don't know how to make anything.  After much anguish I decided on what to make for my sister.  Cranberry Liquor.  I mean really, how can you screw up sugar, vodka, & cranberries?  Doesn't it have to be good?

Well, it has been stewing or festering or matriculating or whatever homemade liquor does, for days.  And I just had a little sip.  

It is good.

In case you are wanting to whip up something festive at the last's the recipe.  This could become an annual tradition. 

I bought some swing-top glass bottles from World Market and the whole thing just looks very sweet and again, festive.  The color of the liquor is beautiful.  

I'll just go grab one more small sip. 

{image from MishaM}

Folger's Coffee Ad circa 1985

This is the coffee ad I was referring to. Still love it. Ugh... Why couldn't Sean mother name him Peter?


I am heading to chicago in a couple days with my two little ones.  My husband, Sean, sadly won't make it out there until the 23rd (it feels just like that holiday Folger's commercial) - but all of my family is in Chicago so it will be great to have some time with them.   Sean's birthday is just after New Years' so when we are in Chicago for Christmas we like to celebrate his birthday there.  We both love Chicago.  And most other large, wonderful cities.  My nice family lets us slip away from the kids for a night and we try to fill 24 hours with as much Chicago-wonderfulness as we can!  We always Priceline a hotel and then research all the fun stuff that we want to squeeze in.  

This year we are staying at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, a 1927 landmark hotel that has just been renovated.  We have never stayed there before and are excited to check it out as we have this deep, strange love for hotels.  I posted the above photo because I love the colors in that Suzani coverlet!)

{sidenote: it's a long-standing to dream of our to one day open a little hotel.}

We will definitely be eating at Zed 451, as we have a gift card from my parents that we have never gotten around to using.  It looks yummy. Kind of a modern take on the Brazilian Churrascaria, which has never been my thing, my maybe the "modern take" will change things for me. 

A few other "definites" on our list:

Museum of Science and Industry (specifically to check out their Smart Home exhibit)

and of course, Jonathan Adler

Can you tell I'm excited about our lone day in Chicago?

{images from The Millennium Knickerbocker, Zed 451, the Museum of Science & Industry, Apartment Therapy, Friendly Joe}

Orla Kiely for the 10th day of Christmas

As promised, a lovely Orla Kiely bag.  Just what I like. Hints of Simple. Classic. Modern. Organic. 

You can find it here

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Knockoff Bathroom

In the same child's bathroom that displays my "Aaron Foster original" also hangs a shower curtain, again from Target, that is mildly reminiscent of Orla Kiely's famed "leaves", no?

{side note:  The above photos are of neither my bathroom nor wrapping supplies.  Target seems to no longer carry the shower curtain and this was the only image I could find online. Yes, I am feeling to lazy right now to go upstairs and photograph my own shower curtain.}

{secondary side note:  after reminding myself of the fabulousness of Orla's work I may be needing to add an item of hers to my Christmas Wish list.  Excellent timing.}

{image from Heather Moore}

Aaron Foster

I have admired the work of artist Aaron Foster for some time now.   Beautiful, earthy and...unattainable.  

 A few weeks back I spotted this at Target.   Granted, it is not nearly as beautiful as the real thing.  But at $40, I'll have to settle for these sweet impostor.

Copenhagen Love

I have mentioned to my husband (on several occasions) that I would like to up & move to Copenhagen.  It seems like a match made in heaven.  First there is the fact that my design sensibilities fall plainly near all things Scandinavian.  Then there's that other thing about them consistently being rated the happiest people on earth.  Who doesn't want to be happy and surrounded by beautiful things?  That's why when I saw this post over at A Cup of Jo, my heart when pitter-pat, pitter-pat:  

"Here's why Denmark is awesome:  Denmark has topped the World's Happiest people surveys for the past 20 years.  They buy more candles than any other nation.  Eighty percent of Copenhagen's cyclists continue to ride through the Copenhagen winter.  Rad all around."

I couldn't agree more, Jo.  I couldn't agree, more.  

{images by Lars from Copenhagen Cycle Chic}

Friday, December 12, 2008

a chicken coop on the 9th day of Christmas

We have talked for some time now about introducing some chickens into the family. It has become not so much of an 'if', but rather a 'when'. We sometimes like to design chicken coops in our spare time. I mean, who doesn't, really? The 'when' seems much farther off when I think of some of our elaborate designs. Chickens could join us far sooner, and still live large, if Santa brought us one of these.

Cute, no?

I found it here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

12 days of Christmas Giveaway at DesignMom

I love, love, love the blog DesignMom. It was one of those blogs that inspired me to do it in the first place. Tomorrow, DesignMom is hosting a Twelve days of Christmas giveaway. Or really, twelve giveaways. Go check it out!

Side note: How do I know that I will love all that she has to offer -

1. DesignMom had impeccable taste.

2. The image she chose to use for this giveaway are of the very same ornaments that are hanging right now from our sweet little tree.

Garnet Hill on the 8th day of Christmas

What can I say? I'm blanket happy this year. I must be chilly. I have gazed lovingly at images of this throw for going on three years now. I'm not sure what it is about it - the colors? the pattern? Not sure, but love it, I do. I would be more then happy for Santa to crochet this for me himself if he prefer that to the hefty price tag. I dream that one day I will learn to crochet. And then a day much further along I would be able to knit something like this, myself. That's right people, I dare to dream the big dreams.

I found this one here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TOMS on the 7th day of Christmas

Many of you have probably seen these shoes by now, but if not, let me fill you in. A guy that was in the Amazing Race spent some time in Argentina and witnessed some of the impoverished conditions there. Determined to do something to help, he came up with this shoe company. The designs are based on typical Argentinean work shoes. For each pair that is purchased, a second pair is donated to a child in a third world country that needs a pair of shoes.

Love it. My little one has a pair and they are adorable. These polka dot cuties are my choice for the Yuletide season.

You can find them here.

**update: Caitlin over at TOMS just gave me the heads-up that they don't only give shoes to kids in third world countries.  They have already done 3 US shoe drops and they have plans to do more in the future**