Monday, November 29, 2010

When the dog bites, when the bee stings: Favorite Things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings: Favorite Things: "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on you remember the words to this one? From the Sound of Music with Julie Andrews singing this..."

Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on you remember the words to this one? From the Sound of Music with Julie Andrews singing this lilting number all the worries of the Von Trappe family disappeared even if only momentarily. The other day I got to catch Oprahs' Favorite Things Show. Since the show was SO BIG it ran two days long.  Judging by the gifts given - and heavens knows she is generous to a fault - there clearly is no recession in Oprahville. 

While I know that generosity makes her feel good - I could not believe the reaction of the audience. I thought some were going to faint, some were sobbing, hugging, jumping up and down like they were just given a cure for cancer. OK - I know - I wasn't there. How would I have reacted?

But onto Favorite Things. I thought alot about this and the reactions of the audience and got to thinking about Favorite Things. Things that are free. Here is my very short list. I would like to encourage you to just name FIVE of your favorite things that are FREE. Just five, and send them to me. I'll post the best of the best.

These are a few of My Favorite Things that are FREE:
1. Sunrise/Sunset. Yes this too is a song but I make it a point to see it every day. It gives me a sense of what is greater outside of me. And the colors are just the best in the palette.

2. Lying on my back in the grass watching the clouds and making them into animals in my mind. Yes, I still do this. Its' really fun.

3.  Walking in the woods with my dogs quietly, trying very hard to make no sound at all. Crazy isn't it? But thats' what the Indians did, probably on the very same ground I'm walking on now.

4.  Breathing in the night air looking at the constellations. If you really want to know your place in the world  - reverse your perspective and imagine you are on a star looking down at the earth to where you are standing.

5.  Watching the little brown birds fly in a flock at this time of year. I love how they float across the sky like little specs jostling for space. And think of all the energy they expend to simply be in flight. Amazing. And they know where they're headed.

6. The ability to read and write with a good command of the English language. My Mother once told me that people who curse all the time just can't think of better words to use. You know, I think my Momma is right. I fell in love with language and a thesaurus at a young age - I used to read it just to learn new words.
So now I'm going to ask you to describe yourself in one word. Just one. And you can use the thesaurus if you want. 

7. Hearing the whistle of a train right before it rains. The air currents shift and if you listen, you can hear things that you normally miss. I love the sound of a train.

8. Puppy paws. They're so new they are soft as velvet. The road map of life hasn't touched them yet.

9. Running into someone you haven't seen in years, and picking up the conversation like you saw them yesterday.

10. Silver white winters that melt into other words, HOPE. If you have - it keep it, if you don't - find it. As a good friend just told me "If you have life you have hope". And don't ever forget  it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


LOWEST Prices EVER!: SALE! SALE! SALE!: "Stores open at Midnight! Stores open at 3AM! Best prices of the year! So do you believe it? Is there anything out there that you really ne..."


Stores open at Midnight! Stores open at 3AM!  Best prices of the year!

So do you believe it? Is there anything out there that you really need must have can't live without? Maybe I'm just at a stage in my life where I am content, happy that clothes that are 15 years old still fit. Some are dated, some are back in style. Maybe I've read the The Not So Big House and feel that I've simply got enough. Maybe I understand the lesson that Wall Street taught and decided not to forget. Greed really isn't good.

Less is more these days, Hummers are gauche, low key is a high note. And I for one am glad to see it. There is a change in design where we are looking at spaces for longevity - not trendiness, not just fads. There is a staying power in design today that says "This is who I am, and I'm not afraid of it showing. I want to be comfortable in my own space".  We've come a long way baby from Mediterranean dark wood cabinets to the lighter, cleaner maple and cherry woods.  Cork floors are earth friendly and friendly to our spines. Natural stone on countertops, floors and backsplashes are softer, able to stand the test of time. The flamboyant materials have given way to the sublime.

Ease of use, ease of operation and easy to care for have replaced high maintenance.  As my alarm clock stikes straight up twelve I eyeball it and curl up till morning. The BIG SALE doesn't phase me, I have all I need. And if Christmas is all about finding that perfect gift - think about giving of yourself a little more instead.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just breathe: I'll Stand By You

Just breathe: I'll Stand By You: "Cancer doesn't care, she said. It doesn't care how old you are, what color you are, if you're a man or a woman or a boy or a girl. Cancer do..."

I'll Stand By You

Cancer doesn't care, she said. It doesn't care how old you are, what color you are, if you're a man or a woman or a boy or a girl. Cancer doesn't care. 

And she was right. This year as we sit down to feasts and festivities breathe the moment in, feel your lungs expand, hear your heart beat. Inhale the fragrance of Thanksgiving - let it settle into your being. Be grateful for even the most unconscious things we do each day.

A few months ago a close friend and fantastic designer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She is the one of the most creative, talented designers I have ever worked with. If you have a space designed by her consider yourself darn lucky. Her kitchens have graced the covers and pages of many magazines and I am grateful to have had time to really know her. 

As she fights this cancer and realizes the road ahead is the toughest she'll ever climb, I think about all of the lives shes' touched in some way. And there are many. Not only in creating the space that memories are made in - the kitchen - the heart of the home, but though coworkers, family and friends.

Cancer doesn't care, but we do. Realize that each time you touch a life you touch many. As my dear friend walks through her treatments and on this path she has been given she should know how many are willing to be there with her. Willing to stand by her and waiting to see her smile again. Willing to send prayer or send energy or send whatever you believe in. Willing to stand by her and stand tall. Willing to be there all the way.<

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Here are we are. No sooner did we finish the Halloween candy did the Christmas decorations and sale events appear in stores. One Holiday morphs into another then they are gone. We melt into the ice & snow of January, the festivities far behind us.

Does time really go faster the older we get? Or consider that mass merchandising and marketing no longer allow us to enjoy the Holidays - one at a time? What if we just said NO? Halloween has become an adult holiday. We had fewer kids than ever at our door and more 16 year olds with plastic bags from the Giant. We live on a hill, so anyone that treks up our driveway gets the treats. But I think that this is no longer a day for children.

The leaves are waning and the feel of fall is crisp in the air. Thanksgiving has become a precursor to Black Friday. Salesalesales. Here they come. The hunt of the best bargain. I stay home. No way will I get involved in that craziness. I'll shop online or take an  L-tryptophan induced nap. Or go to the gym. Again marketing and merchandising trips that trigger for us to go - heaven forbid - TO THE MALL. As you may have guessed I am not a mall shopper. I like the feel of the Open Air Malls so much better. Maybe they just let you breathe.

Here comes Christmas. Here it comes with all the stress, extended family issues, the sniping about never getting a "good" gift. Can we just stop it before it starts please? You have the power to do so. If you haven't given yourself permission to stop the insanity - do it now. This year let each holiday become an opportunity to cherish the moment, cherish the time we all have together. At our home we have an annual family Christmas Eve gathering. We have wonderful food, good wine, all the kids together growing up so fast. It is my favorite time of the year.

The most important thing this holiday season is to immerse ourselves in the time we have together. We don't really know what the next moment holds, what the outcome will be. Merchandising and marketing have ingrained and tapped into our triggers while Reality TV has taught us that bad behavior is acceptable. Turn off the TV, turn on to your life. Celebrate each moment we have been given and cherish it like it never ends. Prepare for the holidays not with a Christmas Club but with an open heart and the spirit of giving. Renew, reevaluate and strengthen the bonds of family that hold us together. Hold them all close. These are the gifts we all have been given - recognizing them may not be that easy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Flat Screen Dilemma

He sat furiously typing on the laptop, staring at the screen. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Looking for a Hooker" was the response. "So tell me when you find one OK?" "Sure". 

Here we are with that age old dilemma - what type of furniture piece do you use when you've purchased a flat screen TV for a living area? If you don't know, Hooker is the name of a manufacturer of furniture - quality wood furnishings at a pretty decent cost. We've had the TV in an armoire for the past 13 years. When the screen starting to black out my husband did the HD dance. The quest and questions began about what to look for, what to purchase and the most terrifying of all -  WHAT will this do to the decor and style of the Great Room? I have fought this transition for quite some time, enjoying the fact that the TV could simply disappear into a furniture piece.

Options, there are options. Let's explore them. One - create a bookcase wall using custom or semi custom cabinetry with a wood panel to mount the screen on. That is an option that I have designed for clients and the costs can begin at $10,000 and go up depending of course on the length of the wall, ceiling height, design and wood species. And it looks fabulous - only not to my wallet.  So we went with the Second Option - locate a furniture piece that works with the open floor plan and the Transitional/Arts & Crafts style home that we have. Definitely more cost effective. Definitely do-able.

First of all, please note that most furniture style pieces fall between 28" - 35-1/2" high.  Determine the length you need by the horizontal dimension of your flat screen.  A good rule of thumb is to allow 6" on either side. Determine your storage needs - will this house cable boxes, DVD players, gaming equipment and more? Make a list and check it twice - and above all measure your space before you go on the quest.   

I've got to say that for someone that fought this kicking and screaming - I love the look of our space and think that Football Sunday at our house has reached a whole new level. High definition not only defines your screen it's the way you live your life.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Change Will Do You Good

Remodeling has certainly slowed down from years prior but you can still hear the sounds of nail guns and  hammers swinging in your neighborhood.  So what's the buzz? Whos' doing what?

The hot ticket is the Bath Remodel. Those whirlpool tubs that everyone had to have when new homes were being built 15 years ago are on the way out. They're taking up valuable real estate and the tile is showing it's age. Verde green is so over and new elements run from bringing the outdoors in to sleek contemporary to in between. The bath has become "themed" and style & design follow formulas to keep the space clean, calming, open and yet display personal style.

Tile still plays a major role but the choices have exploded. Ceramic has been replaced by the porcelains and the choices are endless. The porcelains have become affordable and have true depth of color as opposed to the ceramics.  The lower end ceramic can show actual pixelation on the tile from the screening process.  Go for porcelains that have interest, variation in color and a natural appeal.  They will continue to delight your senses each time you enter the room. 

Even a smaller shower can be transformed into a "Spa Space."  One of the little luxuries is the spas shower spray system which can be as simple as a shower head or dual body sprays. Aging in place has become fashionable. A grab bar can coordinate with a faucet or fixture and don't be shy about installing it.  After foot surgery this year I sure coulda used's not about aging but ease of use.

Here are just a few links I think are great. Remember - coordinate color, go for a themed approach and always ask a professional for design advice. This is one area that you don't want to scrimp on. To borrow a phrase from L'Oreal "Go ahead - you're worth it!".