Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Where You Live" -- Master Bedroom and Bath Inspiration

 A Winner in My Book;
A Look I Can Get Comfortable With . . .
6 jammed-packed "I likes:"
1. I like the nice, large-scaled trunk at the foot of the bed that brings in a rustic homey feel along with some deeper hues, which anchor what is, otherwise, a serene color palette. The red trim around the pillows is a nice unifying touch. The bolder, albeit faded color of the trunk enlivens the space.

 2. I like the massive gray-colored bed frame alongside an airy bedside table. It's not too heavy despite the ironwork. I also like the subtle mix of patterns on the bed skirt (love that check print!), the carpet and window coverings.

(This photo is smaller, because it gets a bit more grainy as it enlarges.)

3. The owners bought the iron-framed mirrors at a local nursery. (There is another matching mirror and sink -- on the other side of the tub.) Again, I like the calming effect of this rustic charm alongside complementary, decorative sconces. I also like the chipped mirrored surfaces for an old-world look. I like the clean, inset cabinetry.

4.  I like the mimic of the old glass and ironwork (yes?) in the inset cabinetry. Nice detail for continuity and purpose. I also like the relaxed and fitted window coverings, which introduce another soft color and pattern in this space.

5. I like the stand-alone linen cabinet. And having coffee immediately at hand in the mornings offers strong appeal -- especially when the kitchen is far away.

6. I like the surprise of seeing a patterned tile in the stair riser . . . .

Hope you enjoyed this tour, this source of inspiration. After I visited this lovely home, I ran across some hanging garden baskets. They're like the iron mirrors above except with a basket in front, san glass. I borrowed their idea and had them backed with glass. Of course, it was going to cost a lot more to antique the glass so that it looked old and worn. I'll do that myself -- one day.

Comments are welcomed and appreciated. Take a moment.... 


Oh,oh, oh . . . check out some of my new blog departments. It might be a great time to beat the heat with this freshing blackberry-wine granita; the recipe you'll find in 
"Eating Cheap and Healthy." 

 This link will take you there -- to the blackberry-wine granita recipe.

 Something more to whet your appetite....

Also check out the blue kitchen (above) -- and others -- in

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Where You Live" -- Visiting with Ann at Her Texas Hill Country Home

"I'm a color person," says Ann,
inviting me into her warm and delightful 
Fredericksburg abode . . .
When my girlfriends and I left San Marcos after enjoying a sampling of small Texas Hill Country towns, including Blanco, the lavender capital of Texas (see post below this one), I headed toward where Ann -- author of the blog, Hill Country House, lives.

Behind these doors lives a very gracious lady -- a real "girlfriend," 
meaning  you feel as if you've known her forever. Ann is an antiques dealer and an artist at heart. She possesses a fine eye for collecting and exhibits a real talent for making it all work.

A short corridor leading into the living room, from the foyer.

This revealing sign below, which hangs in a wet bar off a short corridor leading to her expansive, stone-walled living room, reveals her basic philosophy about design. Decorating, for Ann, I came to conclude, is a way of introducing herself to others. A way of sharing who she is, as well as providing an introduction to her family. In this very fun and non-verbal way, she makes guests feel extremely comfortable and welcomed.

The sign says: "First, Furnish Your Home . . . It Tells Who You Are."
Ann offers more: "The sign is one of my all time favorite things! I bought it opening night at the Heart of Country Antique Show - maybe 10 years ago. It is an old furniture store sign and is double sided. It also was wired for lighting above the words, but under the "cover". One day I would like to light it again."

   Ann in her kitchen, talking, while Buddy comes forward to investigate.

Meet Ann, now through some of her displays and decorating touches:

An unexpected bouquet of old paint brushes in the living room.

A shadow box -- or Mexican nicho, as Ann calls it -- and an old table display a variety of items that "called" her name.

Her master bedroom.

Upon request, Ann shares some information about her home, collections and style:

1.How do you define your decorating style?

"This is the hardest question. I don't have a name for my style. It is just my style. I fill my house with things I love. I arrange them, move them around, then move them out (i.e. sell at antique shows) and it just evolves constantly. I guess one thing you could say is that my style informal and comfortable."

"The dress forms covered in shells came from an antique shop in San Antonio. I was there with a friend and when I saw them, I just had this crazed, 'I have to have them' feeling. I can't even really tell you why. I just respond viscerally sometimes. Fortunately, the price was right on the shelled pieces. Sometimes when I respond this way, I just plain can't afford the object of my desire," she says. 

Is this chest a form of tramp art? 
"I am attracted to a lot of things with that saw tooth edge that you see in tramp art. I actually saw this chest online at a One Kings Lane sale and bought it. It is from Peter Dunham's Hollywood at Home. (Who is one of my most favorite designers and one day I hope to get to California to see his shops) Talk about a risk- but I love it! 

  More whimsical touches in Ann's home.

2. What rule of thumb do you use when shopping for collection pieces? Does it
just happen, or do you "plan," more or less to go look for an item?

"Most of my collections just happened, at first. I would see something, like it, buy it and then start noticing "it" as I shopped shows, etc. Some of my things, like the stone books, are really hard to find, so I am always keeping my eyes open for them. Sometimes I have been known to resist buying one thing that I love because I know I will get hooked on it and start another collection! I am trying not to do that anymore, (start new collections)  but it is in my blood I guess!"
Her collection of rather rare stone books, which typically were carved to resemble Bibles.
3.Your collections seem so right and nicely edited; what advice can you give to
people who want to decorate using collections?

"I would say only collect what you are drawn to and just love! Then, be discerning as to what and how many you collect, of whatever it is that you love. For example, when I first started collecting vintage Mexican pottery, I bought every piece in sight the first time I went to a big antique show/flea market. Over time, I began to learn more about different pieces, different regions of Mexico where they were made, how rare and old they are, etc. I sold a bunch of it and now only buy when something when I just love it, and it is unusual and special. Same with wicker covered bottles - I love them, but only buy shapes and sizes I don't already have in my groupings.

When you read Ann's blog, you know she is a big supporter of artists. She always lets us know "who's in."

This piece (above) is made of crinkled paper. 
Gugger Petter is an accomplished artist from Denmark and is represented by the Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe. 
"I fell in love with her work when I saw it in the shoe department at Nordstrom. I loved it but had no idea where to find her art or even her name. When I happened on it at the New Mexico gallery, I got so excited! I think it will be a very special piece to leave my girls one day." 
And, speaking of crinkled paper, here's wire basket full of it sitting by her living room fireplace. Just ready to be pitched into a newly ignited fire . . . 

A peek inside the family's screened-in porch:

The glider belonged to her dad. "I remember  sitting on it on my grandmother's screened-in porch growing up. It was covered in an old army green canvas with white piping -- actually it would be pretty cute in that today! My dad said he used to take naps on it on as a teen ager! I am about ready to re-cover it again and work on decorating the porch. It has been last on the priority list up until now . . . ."

 A favorite concrete faux bois planter filled with succulents. This is from Ballard Designs. With that said, Ann says she has a few vintage ones (not pictured), which came from San Antonio. "There was a man/family there who built covered bus stops all over San Antonio out of concrete made to look like wood. They also did a ton of the same work at the San Antonio Zoo."

Another planter filled with greenery and color -- out by the pool:

As any artist eventually would, Ann is ready to begin a painting a new canvas . . . . She and her husband currently have their Fredericksburg home on the market. If you would like more information about it, contact Mary Ann Stewart at the Phyllis Browning Company at 800-929-3049. It's pretty fabulous!

Thank you, Ann, and daughter Emma for a lovely lunch. Enjoyed meeting you both. Such a treat! If you'd like to check out Ann's blog, and I hope you do, travel to: www.hillcountryhouse.blogspot.com

I do plan to show Ann's kitchen area another time. So, please come again.
In the meantime, please visit a previous post here, called "Her Personal Space," which introduces you to Ann and some other bloggers.

Would love to hear from you! So, please, if you have a moment, drop me a comment.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Texas Lavender . . .

. . . A Weekend in 
Blanco, Texas
Instead of blogging this past week, I collected my girlfriends -- encouraging them to drop their deadlines, abandon their routines and leave their husbands (just for a few days) -- to go explore the lavender farms around Blanco, Texas, the lavender capital of Texas.

Photo courtesy of Blanco

What fun we had! The five of us rented a large house in San Marcos, Texas, where we sat out the first evening under a towering Oak on a large side veranda. All the while laughing. And drinking cool white wines. And tearing off small chunks of fresh breads as well as snacking on cherry tomatoes and chips dipped into a yummy Peach lavender salsa. Oh, and let's not forget the sampling of a tasty Texas-made white cheese -- and finishing it all off with almonds and a little dark Chocolate, natch

We did some exploring, first visiting a couple of lavender farms:

My friend Carole with her new friend at the Wimberley Lavender Farm.
The farm's gift shop. . .

... where they sold everything from small lavender starter plants, to cookbooks, drink mixes and lotions.

The Miller Creek Lavender Farm outside Johnson City.
The owners said an ongoing drought has greatly impacted the lavender this year. 
(pray for rain)
Last year at this time, it all looked more like this:

Photo courtsey of Blanco
Nevertheless, products were plentiful. There were lavender-infused wines, lotions, soaps, teas . . . well, you name it, they had it! It was all about lavender!

My friend Pamela in a lavender chair! The picnic tables, signs, balloons, even portable toilets, the farm fences, and also the hats -- all lavender!
More chairs-in-waiting at the Johnson City farm.

 A few of the products we purchased.
Many of the farms sell products online, so check them out:

johnson city



A recipe for a refreshing drink perfect to cool off hot days -- from another lavender festival. This one is coming up -- from July 15 to 17 in Palisade, Colorado. For more info, go here.

In the meantime, enjoy the drink recipe below -- and cheers!

Purple Passion Lavender-Mint Punch found on recipezaar.com
A favorite of Kathy Kimbrough
3 T. fresh mint leaves
2-3 T. fresh lavender blossoms or 1T. dried lavender blossoms
6 c. boiling water
1 liter ginger ale, chilled
1 c. purple grape juice
mint leaf ice cubes
thinly sliced orange (or lemons)
lavender flowers
mint sprig
MINT LEAF ICE CUBES: To make the mint leaf ice cubes, place one whole mint leaf in each ice cube tray compartment. Fill the tray with water and freeze until completely solid.
TEA/PUNCH: Place the fresh mint leaves and lavender in a teapot, pour the boiling water over the leaves and brew for 10 minutes. Allow tea to cool completely. Strain the tea and add the grape juice. Add the ginger ale and mint ice cubes just before serving. Garnish each serving with an orange or lemon slice, if desired. Makes approximately 12 cups.

Photo courtsey of Blanco

Someone "along the way" told me the best cooking lavender is Provence.

Photo courtsey of Blanco
More information about lavender -- from the Blanco Web site; it answers how to grow this lovely scented plant, as well as when to harvest and how to use it:

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing, Planting, and Caring for Lavender

    •    Look for plants in nurseries in 4" to 1-gallon containers
    •    Most L. plants are started from cuttings taken from Mother plants
    •    Plant lavender in a sunny place in well-drained soil (it is not too happy if it's too wet or humid)
    •    Before planting, clear ground of weeds (small lavender plants cannot compete with aggressive weeds, and weeding after they are planted can be a huge hassle)
    •    Set plants 24" - 36" apart (trust us, they will grow as big as 3' x 3', if they are happy)
    •    Plants should be pruned every year, after blooming. Cut back not only the flower stem, but also about a third of the gray-leaved stems as well
    •    After established, lavender rarely needs watering, unless in drought conditions
    •    Water well until the soil is completely moist
    •    Give it space for air circulation

Growing Lavender in Containers

    •    Important considerations are size of container, adequate light, drainage, water, pruning and feeding
    •    The container should be proportional to the size of the plant and rootball (equal or greater that top of plant)
    •    Locate lavender containers in a sunny location (about 8 hr. a day)
    •    Make sure there are adequate drainage holes in the container you select
    •    Add an inch or two of gravel to the bottom of the container for adequate drainage, water and drying of soil between waterings
    •    Water when the soil is dry (not daily watering) — not too wet, but not dried out either
    •    Lavender likes to be repotted yearly, and this is a good time to mix a time-release fertilizer into the potting mix
    •    Start your container with plants, not seeds

Harvesting Lavender Blooms

    •    It takes about three years for a lavender to reach full size
    •    Harvest when the bottom third of the flower spike is in bloom
    •    Cut the flower stems during the cool of the morning
    •    When dry, rub the flower heads over a bowl to loosen them from the stem
    •    Store buds in a glass container in a darkened place to keep them fresh

Using Lavender Essential Oils to Scent Your World

    •    Add a few drops of lavender oil to oil lamps or lamp bulb ring.
    •    Refresh sachets, lavender buds, potpourii with a drop of oil
    •    Lavender oil may be used on burns, insect bites, nettle stings and cuts for relief and speedy healing
    •    Add to vaporizer to battle colds, coughs and infections
    •    Add a few drops to a hot bath, close the door and inhale the vapor for the ultimate relaxation experience
    •    Lavender oil is wonderful for crafting, soaps, candles and lotions and colognes. However, use lavender flowers, rather than essential oil in food or drink
    •    Calming, refreshing and relaxing
    •    Repels moths
Blanco currently has about 10 lavender farms in the area. Interesting that it all began with a photographer. "In 1999, Robb Kendrick and his wife, Jeannie Ralston, pioneered the way for a new agricultural industry in the area. Kendrick, a National Geographic photographer, while shooting a story for the magazine in Provence, France, noticed that the hilly terrain and the scorching hot summers there were similar to that found at his land near Blanco in the Texas Hill Country.
In 1999, the Kendricks planted 2,000 plants, paving the way for the current Blanco lavender growers, many of who were inspired by seminars conducted by the Kendricks." (from Blanco Web site)

 A garden plaque laying in a farm's herb garden. 
Blanco -- not too far from the university town where we stayed -- held its 7th annual festival this past weekend. I suggest you mark your calendars for next year! And while our outing ended all too soon, I did take off on my own to visit Fredericksburg (where I also meet up with a fellow blogger who graciously served lunch at her fabulous home; you'll find out in the next upcoming post who), and friends and family.

My friends and me (I'm in green on the far right) enjoying lunch in Wimberley, Texas -- at The Leaning Pear, which featured a recommended watermelon gazpacho.

I would love to hear from you . . . please leave a comment below. Tell me, what do you do when you escape with friends? And, please take a moment to leave a comment at the post below -- as an entry into the GiveAway. UPrinting so graciously is donating 100 customized postcards. If you win, you get a customized postcard. I love it and thank them!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

GiveAway: A Customization of 100 Postcards!

What a Great Offer!
Turn Your Vacation Photos into Announcements . . .
Or Let Everyone Know About Your New Baby -- or Business!

Postcard Ideas from UPrinting.

UPrinting is offering this terrific GiveAway!  
One lucky winner will receive this:

100 Postcards 
5" x 7"
14pt Cardstock Gloss
No Folding
Front and Back Printing
2 Business Days Print Turnaround Time
 For U.S. residents 18 years old and older only.

Postcard Ideas

Postcard Templates

In the comment section below, please drop a line to say hello, make an observation or say something uplifting. THAT comment will serve as your entry into this GiveAway contest. 

One winner will be selected and announced on Saturday, June 18. So, you have from now until Friday, June 17, midnight, to leave a comment below.

For another two possible chances at an entry into the Contest, please "like" UPrinting here on Facebook.
After visiting FB, return here and leave another comment saying you did so. The second entry opportunity comes when you sign up to follow them on Twitter -- and, of course, come back to say you did so. 

This giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting, an online printing company, no monetary compensation was given and I will receive postcards for hosting. See more information about postcards and available postcard designs on UPrinting.com.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

5 Tips on How to Give Your Home a Quick and Easy Makeover

In My Mailbox:
Overwhelmed at the thought of overhauling your home? It really doesn’t take much to give your space a seasonal update. Please see below for the Top 5 Items to Give Your Home a Makeover.
  1. Slipcovers:  If you’re tired of your living room and want to give it a summer feel, don’t waste your vacation money buying new couches or chairs. Sure Fit Inc, the nation’s leading home solutions company, has hundreds of light and bright options to take your living room through summer.
Price: $49.00-$69.00   www.surefit.net
  1. New Bedding: The fastest way to update the look of your bedroom is to simply change the color scheme of your bedding set. Coyuchi’s Waters Edge bedding collection will bring the colors of spring into your home with accents of blues and greens reflecting the colors of the ocean.

Waters Edge Collection (Price: $34-$249) and other like this at www.coyuchi.com
  1. A Touch of Nature: You don’t need to have a garden in order to bring fresh flowers into your home. Organic Bouquet is the largest online provider of eco-friendly and organic floral gifts, and offers an array of sustainable flowers that will have you thinking Spring. The company is also partnered with over 55 charities, and offers incredible benefits to workers around the world.

www.organicbouquet.com Prices ranging from $49.95-$69.95
  1. Something Shiny and New: Remodeling your kitchen doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change too much. Start by adding some new accessories to add a modern feel.  Comprised of a coffee machine, espresso machine, tea kettle, toaster and juicer, KRUPS is debuting its new Silver Art Collection, which is setting a new benchmark with its progressive technology and objective modern design (high-gloss chrome and contrastive elements of natural wood).

www.KrupsUSA.com Prices range from $80-$300
  1. Colorful Accents:  A simple touch, like adding colorful new curtains or throw pillows to the living room couch can instantly brighten a room for spring on the cheap! 

Logan Rod Pocket Drape www.SureFit.com                  

 Organic Cotton Knit Tie Pillows www.Coyuchi.com

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