Great interior design blog and resource

A group of friends and I were chatting recently about wallpaper and killer designer fabrics for interior design. I am a big fan of wallpaper, but my husband is not. So, small corners, alcoves and feature walls of incredible wallpaper are on my radar as I spend some time working on our home over the next year. It’s a compromise, but then we will have tons of paper leftover. So I mentioned how I wished that someone would sell half-used rolls of great wallpaper that is chic right now – like Imperial Trellis in Charcoal (need half a roll anyone got one to sell?), because what am I going to do with a double roll?

Well, I recently ran across this blogger. A designer and gal with a great eye for color, Shannon Darby is cleaning out her storage spaces and ridding herself of exactly what I want – small pieces of fabric for pillows and lampshades, partial rolls of wallpaper, and sometimes matching sets of both.

If you’re looking for that “pop of color” that the designers on HGTV are always talking about? Check her out at http://thedesignersattic.blogspot.com/.

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Love it, love it!

Layers of chic-ness!

Layers of chic-ness!

Been a bit under the weather toward the end of the week, so I have done more surfing than writing. But, had to post this, briefly. Love The Sartorialist and this image just struck me. I wish I could pull something like this off!

Cabinet Envy: a beautiful revamp

Oh, Wow! Can I have one?

Oh, Wow! Can I have one?

This amazing, expensive-looking piece is actually a rescued, beat-up piece that Rachel from the Southern Exposure blog has revamped. It makes me wonder what possibilities there are for old, bathroom and kitchen cabinets using her technique of mirrors, molding and super glue. Genius.

Who'da Thunk It? That this would become such a thing of beauty.

Who'da Thunk It? That this would become such a thing of beauty.

The bottom half. It's huge!

The bottom half. It's huge!

You have got to go check it out. The cabinet is massive and even had room for her to cleverly build in a bar with some very hip wallpaper, Imperial Trellis. Here’s the link: Click over, don’t be shy and let her know I sent you by!

http://southernexposure1.squarespace.com/southern-exposure/2010/9/28/before-and-after-dining-room-cabinet.html

Shrimp Sauce from Dean & DeLuca – yum

Lovely, light shrimp dinner.

Lovely, light shrimp dinner.

I’ve mentioned before that I used to have the pleasure of working for Dean & DeLuca. If you receive their catalogs or visit their Web site, you’ve probably read some of the copy I wrote for them during my corporate days. One advantage of working there was the proximity to the warehouse – I could place an order and pick it up at 4 p.m. (almost as good as living down the street from one of their fabulous NYC stores). But another was the chance to try products out in my kitchen.

I love Vietnamese food. (If you live within 100 miles of Wichita, you HAVE to come try Saigon at about 10th and Broadway, by the way, order # 45 and you’ll be in foodie heaven for a very small price! I’ll post more on them someday, as I digress…) Anyway, when I saw this marinade from the chefs at D&D, I had to try it. It’s been in fairly heavy roatation around the Henshall house since…

http://www.deandeluca.com/recipes/recipe_basic_vietnamese_dipping_sauce_nuoc_cham.aspx

I picked up a cheap bag of peeled and cooked frozen shrimp from Aldi ($3.99 for a big bag), plunked them in a bowl and poured the sauce over all. A bit of plastic wrap to cover and into the fridge it went. The next evening, everything was thawed and flavorful, so I fired up the rice cooker with some good-smelling Basmati rice (oldest daughter’s favorite) and popped the bowl of shrimp into the microwave for about two minutes. Plate the cooked rice, spoon generous portions of the shrimp on top – and you have a glamorous-looking, professional-tasting meal that will make you look like an Iron Chef hero. Inexpensive ingredients for the most part – but they are all pulled together to make a great, light dinner.

Closet confessions

 

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It’s a daunting task. One that I should theoretically take on every year. Try as I might, I can’t avoid it.

The culling of the closet.
I confess it’s painful. I have a fairly deep and personal relationship with each pair of shoes and every handbag. But spring is nearly here and Bergdorf’s is sending me daily reminders that to be chic and cool this season, I must buy their new clothes. Or at least toss out those pieces that are hopelessly out of date. So, one day this month, my closet and bedroom turned into a killing field. Here are a few of the guidelines, that back in my working days, I used to try to keep my wardrobe current, classic and chic. Nowadays, it’s just an attempt to keep my wardrobe appropriate for my lifestyle – a work-from-home, mommy and blogger.

If it needs fixed, toss it out.
I can talk about fixing that hem or taking in that waist — but it’s never going to happen. I put them in a pile and chuck them at least once a year. Shoes too. Are you really going to take those old Payless shoes in to be repaired? I never did.  Then why are you sitting on them? Replace them with a quality pair that will instead last for years.

I’m not going to lose that last five pounds.
“Get over it,” I repeatedly tell myself. But I do tend to hold on to that pair of size four jeans or the really pretty cocktail dress with the really short skirt — even though I can’t get them on nowadays. Maybe after a really bad stomach virus, but how often to you luck out like that? If it doesn’t fit you must … well, quit. Toss it or pass it on. Your skinny girlfriends with no children who have wasted their waistlines will love you for it.

If it’s for work, is it chic and classic?
“Elegance is refusal,” Coco Chanel once said. Now, I’m no Coco, but I’m slowly learning that trends have no place in the workplace and, as I move into a full-time gig as an educator -that is doubly true. Trade the leggings for a slim pencil skirt, the oversized plaid shirt for a crisp white button-down with French cuffs. And while I didn’t follow ALL of his rules, I did use Tim Gunn’s book “A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style” to help me out this time around with my full-on closet reconstruction. Just don’t tell the “Project Runway” star that I kept more than a few holey college sweatshirts. Which brings me to…

Casual clothes revamp
Admit it, because I will — years out of college and you’re still wearing your Greek letters or college tees. Usually with some ratty yoga pants. And yes, even though you do feel bad about it, you do wear the combo out in public. But, if you’re like me, you are bound to run into a work colleague, vendor, peer or (worse) your boss while you’re out running errands looking like Britney Spears on a bad day. I love the words of wisdom from the UK’s Trinny and Susannah on their Web site: “Details make all the difference. A chic outfit will be completely degraded by chipped nail varnish.” I think it applies here. As a part of the 2011 cull, I tossed out all but one pair of sweats and yoga pants, now I HAVE to buy nice ones. I’m sure the folks at the Gucci Dillons at Central and Rock will appreciate it. (By the way check out Trinny and Susannah’s feature article: http://www.trinnyandsusannah.com/features/makinganeffort/)

Make sure it works
For me, this is a tough one. I love unusual pieces, I think it’s the “creative” part of my personality. The funky pink skirt with Indian embroidery and mirrors, the abstract print top in bright colors, the acid green floral shoes. It’s much easier to get dressed in the morning if you have a great selection of neutrals (blacks, grays, ivorys, camels, navys, for example) to start with. I’m not there yet, but the closet clean out did give me room to add in at least two new suits. The skirt and the top stayed, but I’m happy to report that the acid green shoes found their way to the DAV.

Speaking of that — where to donate
One woman’s closet clean out is another’s treasure. Make sure you take your (decent and clean) unused items to the DAV, the AmVets or to a Junior League Thrift shop. You might help build the wardrobe of someone a bit less fortunate — and we can all use the good karma, right?

Lovely bedroom for inspiration

Bedroom contemporary bedroom

We’re working steadily (a bit a week) on our Master Bedroom. It was once hot pink and ivory, then when we moved in, pinky-beige (the pink shows through) and ivory. Now, it’s on its way to becoming a deep, smoky, periwinkly grey with white accents – and a nice damask floral in black and white on a feature wall and bedding.

If we ever get it done. It’s been a “work in progress” for about a year.

Well.. we’re busy. And slow…

So, today, while it was quiet and Bethy took a long play-bath, a little Houzz.com surfing for inspiration was needed. Not inspiration for the “look” but inspiration for the get-up-and-paint that needs to occur tomorrow.

Because I don’t know about you, but the calm feeling I get from that image above is exactly what I need for my room.

Anglofile diaries at Traditional Home Online

Be still my heart, there is a treasure trove of Brit info over at Traditional Home.  “Readers of Traditional Home in the mid-1990s were treated to the wry, observant, and flat-out funny musings of American author Bill Bryson on life in England,” the site reads.

This weekend? A cup of tea, some cookies and my Snuggie and I have an appointment with Mr. Bryson. I can’t wait to dive into his stories and add more to my England trip “to-do” list.

Check it out at: http://www.traditionalhome.com/travel_weekendgetaways/distantshores/bill-bryson-columns.html