Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Ghosts of Halloween Past: Advertising Mascots

Every year we have a crazy adult (if you can call us "adults") Halloween party with a theme. We usually start at our house & then get a limo out into Georgetown where the streets are mobbed with costumed-people. I just LOVE IT!!!! (This year, being pregnant, I just wasn't up for the crazy night out, so we had a fun kiddie one instead.) But, I thought I'd share with you one of our past themes: advertising mascots. The first one up is the Sunmaid Raisin Girl:

The box of raisins inspired the whole party. I've always thought my friend Lindsey looks like the Sunmaid Raisin girl & would always suggest she dress up as her for Halloween. Then, I thought of all the other advertising logos & how my other friends could dress up as them. Here's Lindsey, aka "The Sunmaid Raisin" girl in her costume I made from Goodwill finds. (The bonnet is the sleeve of a red button-down shirt and her corsette is from a suit.)

And next is Chiquita Banana:Marcela's costume is AMAZING. She paper mache'd the basket on her head & meticulously glued all the fruit down. She was such a trooper & it stayed on all night!!!! I made her dress out of cheap t-shirts from Michael's:

And here's our Chiquita's husband, Juan Valdez:

Billy, AKA "Juan Valdez" actually made his entrance to the party by knocking on the window and handing in a cup of coffee... It was perfect!!! The mustache got a bit crooked as the night went on & Billy is just hysterical:

And who can forget the Land O Lakes Butter Girl?
Mo was adorable!!!

And even though she's underage, we decided to let the Morton salt Girl join the party.
Erin was perfect! Check out that little mary-jane-clad foot kicked up just like the real Morton Salt Girl:
And we can't have a party without the beer! (ok, we totally can, but let's just pretend! ;)

Here I am as the St.Paulie Girl with a costume made from Goodwill finds:
(I'd originally tried making a "Chicken of the Sea" costume but it was just way too hard to walk around in!) And of course my husband, Sam Adams, was there to help host:

Here he is posing with his friend The Quaker Oats Guy (married to the Morton Salt Girl- what an age gap!! shocking!! ;):
There were a few more gusts I don't have pictures of .. argggg.. Anyway, we've had lots more of these crazy parties & I'll share some more next year. I can't tell you enough how much fun I have on Halloween. We usually start planning in September and my best friends & their husbands come in from out of state. Everyone stresses like crazy about not "having a costume" and in the end they always look awesome. I'm so lucky to have friends who will go along with my silly plans & I love them for it.
ps- the hanging scarecrow wasn't visible at night so no one noticed it (phew! ;) and the kids loved the ghost & taking pictures with him.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I hope it's not Too Creepy...

I still haven't set up all the indoor & food pretties & don't know if I'll have the time to take pics so I thought I'd post a quick peek of our outdoor "spookies" as Christian calls them. We have a big tall ghost (made from those plastic cheapie table cloths) who isn't so scary and a hanging scarecrow who looks pretty real & has been freaking me out all day in our back yard. (He's in the background of the pic above too.):

My poor next door neighbor called me this morning asking if I was trying to give her a heart attack!!! oops!! Anyway, hope the toddler moms aren't too weirded out.

A Crazy Lady on Halloween

So it's around 5 am and I've been up not being able to sleep for a couple of hours--- not sure if it's the pregnancy, the cold, or the fact that sometimes I just can't shut my brain off. But anyway, here I am up & thinking about all that needs to be done realizing it just can't happen!

I finally gave up pretending I was going to go back to sleep and started some work but I had to drop a quick post in to say I won't be able to post my kitchen today. I'm sorry & don't mean to dangle a good "before & after," I just simply can't get it all done. I had so many plans for this Halloween too!! I'm returning the fabric I bought for Christian's Max (from Where the Wild Things Are) and he's now going as a store-bought "honey bear"- as he says. The package said "honey bear" on it and I guess one of us read it out loud and now he's not just a "bear" anymore.) I've bitten off more than I can chew lately and have decided that some things just won't get done. hahah like this: (Southern Living)

I also wanted to do the ghost ring that so many of you gave me ideas on.. but when I saw the price on the styrofoam balls ($13 each!!!) I gave up on that... We have one spooky ghost now in my woods and I will post photos of our Halloween party prep later today or tomrorow. (If we can get it all done..) We also hung a very scary man/ scarecrow guy in a tree back in our woods and he looks really life-like so I'm hoping the cops don't show up to investigate. (And that my mommy friends don't get too weirded out.)

I'll be back as soon as I can to post Halloween party pics. It's going to be one of those days where we will be simply giving up at some point because there's no possible way to get all that I have planned done in time. ah vell!! I will have a nice cold rootbeer to celebrate my favorite holiday:

THAT I can handle ;)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Workspace to Love: Nate Berkus

I could spend hours on the Nate Berkus website. Hours. His spaces are incredible: natural and clean often with a hit of some great graphic pattern. Lots of great sculptural pieces. He's one of my FAVORITES & "DESIGN GREAT" to me!!

In this space I'm loving:

-The chrome Chippendale Chair. Found a pair here :

-The sawhorse glass top worktable: (Check out Copy Cat Chic for some great readily available options)

-The Rug: (haha how small is that image?! I'm no computer whiz!) Of course we know how great & affordable Dash & Abert's Rugs are:

-The raw concrete (I think?) walls. Check out Nelya's basement redo here and her concrete wall: (Photo taken by Nelya at Head Over Heels)

And in the end I'm also just crazy over the styling of the "messy" desk. (My desk never looks this good when it's messy.) The tulips are the bow on top of everything. I love what greenery or fresh flowers do for a space:

Have a great day & I'll be posting our finally-finished-kitchen today or tomorrow!!! (it's pretty gloomy out so pics might be rough! ;)



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pronunciation of Design Terms

Have you ever come to a point when you are about to say a word out loud & realize that you've never actually spoken it before & are unsure of the pronunciation? You've read it a thousand time & know its definintion but are now embarrassed to say it?

I think this happens a lot to book worms (myself included) who've been reading a word for years & have never looked up its pronunciation. Being mostly self-taught, when I first started out in this field a couple of years ago, I realized there were lots of design terms that fell into this category. (And I'm sure I'll run into more.) I thought I'd share a few that I hear pronouced differently all the time and others that rarely get spoken out loud. I looked them up to get non-biased pronunciations:

Damask: "damn-esk" (with the emphasis on the first syllable)

Jacquard: "Jack-ard" (with emphasis on the first syllable)

Ikat: "ee-kot"

Chinoiserie: "Sheen-waz-er-ee" (image from here)

Patina: "pa-tee-na" or "pa-tin-a"

Grisaille: "griz-ai" (pronounced just like "Versailles") Click here to read a previous post on them.

Etagere: "Ay-taj-eir" (with "taj" pronounced like the "taj" in "Taj Mahal") (image from here)

Klismos: "kliz-moss"

And finally, a name I hear pronounced every which way to Sunday is "Vicente Wolf." Now I'm not sure exactly how he pronounces his name himself, but looking up the pronunciation of "Vicente" you get "Vee-sent-ee"... we might have to "ask Vicente!"

I'm sure a lot of you have probably known these terms for years but maybe some of you, like me, are newer to the design world or had just never spoken the words out loud. (I mean honestly, how many times does the word "grisaille" come up in causal conversation?!) I think it's important for us all to be okay asking questions and to be okay admitting we don't know it all. You learn so much more once you've realized how much you have yet to learn.



ps- I know I've forgotten a bunch so if there are any more of these words that we hear pronouced lots of diffferent ways or anything you're just unsure of, be sure to mention it in the comments section! I'll post them below! :)
Matelasse: "Maht-luh-sey"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hanging a Gallery Wall

A client of mine had a huge stash of artwork that her brother had given her years ago... always planning on doing something with some of it but never getting around to it. He made some of the pieces from tissue paper & paint so they're raised & really unique:

Each piece symbolizes something special to them. She has a huge wall going up her stairway so I thought it would be the perfect space to display almost the whole collection. I had them mounted on a dark green velvet (which was one of the few colors that worked with all of the pieces) and framed in shadow box frame sans-glass. We used a laser level, a tape measure, and of course my accommodating contactor & his ladder to hang the gallery wall and it came out perfectly. (love it when that happens!)

We switched out her builder's grade brass fixture for this Arteriors Home antique brass pendant which works with the contemporary artwork but also pays homage to the rest of the house which is actually fairly traditional:
Gallery walls can be perfect for thar forgotton hallway or stairway & often we have the artwork or photos just waiting around our house to be framed. (And prints are so cheap & easy to come by!) They have a huge impact on a space & can be really sentimental. My client loves seeing her brother's artwork first thing when she comes home every day. Do you have any artwork just waiting around to be hung??

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stone Soup

One of our favorite things to make in the colder months is Stone Soup. I've always loved Marcia Brown's book, Stone Soup, & for years have been making real "stone soup"... first with with my little sister when she visited us (she's 15 years younger than me) and now with my toddler. Kids get such a kick out of reading the book and cooking along with it. (and you get labor for a fun meal!! :)

We pretty much use the ingredients from the book & then just add whatever vegetables we have around. ... It's all about using what's left in the fridge for us so we change the recipe up a lot depending upon what we have. (The recipe is for a large batch that will last you the week.) First we get out a big pot like they do in the book:

Then we add in 2 large cans of chicken broth. (This is the quickie way which we usually end up doing, but it's always a tad yummier when you do homemade broth.) Next comes "THE COOKING STONE." We just keep ours in the kitchen and it's literally just a big stone I found years ago. (We put it though the dishwasher & make sure it's clean of course before dumping it in to our food ;) This is usually the kids' favotite part so if you have more than 1 child, I'd suggest getting multiple stones so no one feels left out.

Then, get the pot to boiling & start with the salt & pepper just like in the book. Next come the sliced carrots & cabbage. (We never have cabbage around so I usually just cut up a little spinach or romaine or whatever we have so there's something to toss in on this page.) Then come the potatoes and beef ( which we usually substitute with pre-cooked chicken.)

Lately I've been adding yellow squash because it's in season (and so good!) and I always add in lots of fresh garlic. (Add in whatever veggies you can here!)

Next the book calls for barley and some milk. We never have barley either, so we use pre-cooked rice (add as much or as little as you like depending upon how thick you want it.) and then add in a 1/2 cup- cup of milk or so..

We've got some rosemary growing in the kitchen & lately I've been tossing a little of that in too... I almost always top with fresh chopped basil & some shredded parmesan cheese. mm mmm goodness!!!

Christian loves his "tiny bowl" and usually has 2-3 bowls at a time of his "special stone soup."

It's so great to see your kid chowing down on such a healthy meal asking for more carrots & yellow squash. He's so much more into the vegetables when they come in his "special soup" than when we serve them normally.

Like I've said before, I love having a weekly batch of soup around for lunches & meals... It's so nice not to have to think sometimes and to have a quick & easy meal ready... all you have to do is microwave it. Anyway, since I had this recipe post waiting, it was the perfect time to join Rhoda of Southern Hospitality's RECIPE PARTY!!! There are already so many great ones up there so go check it out here:

Hope you enjoyed!!

ps- Christian just saw the pics on this post and asked for some "special stone soup" so you know what we're having for breakfast! ;)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My first blog

It's been a year now (and 189 posts)since I started writing Pure Style Home. (I'm not good with anniversaries, so it's a week or 2 late.) But I thought it would be fun to share with you my first post, which I called my first "blog" at the time. I really don't even remember why I started writing... I guess stumbled across a blog (I can't remember which) & have always loved writing so I just decided to start writing, never thinking anyone but my grandmother & mother-in-law would ever read it.

We were living in my parents' basement at the time, having just sold our own townhome for a huge loss and at first I didn't share this with readers. (Well I really didn't have any readers to share it with... but at the point when no one's reading, you just sort of pretend you are writing for people ;) Anyway, I was embarrassed that we lived in my parents' basement until one day it just hit me that life happens. People do what they have to do to get places and we were living in a basement so we could get a new house. I shared it with readers and got some amazing support and advice.

I think it was then that I really opened up on my blog and realized how kind & caring you all were. It's been an awesome experience and I've made so many friends here. I've learned so much & many of you have influenced my style along the way. I feel like I've met a few mentors (I don't think they know it ;) and I've found that in general, the people of blogworld are generous, caring & open about sharing knowledge & ideas. It's a wonderful community & I'm so glad to have joined. One of my very first commenters was the lovely Camila of High-Heeled Foot in the Door & she really explained to me how things were done and has been there for me ever since.

I've gained a lot of confidence from writing this blog & having others believe in me... My business has come a long way in just one short year and I owe much of it to this blog & readers. (I hope to be thinking the same thing next year! :) Thank you so much for reading and here is my very first post... (bear with it! ;)

--------------------------OCTOBER 7, 2008---9:44 AM----------------

(A room in progress... a lake house for my dad I'm currently working on just to give you an idea of my work.)

So here I am, writing my first blog. Hmmm... I'm not really even quite sure what a blog is so here goes. First, I should say that there will probably be lots of typos & I apologize.

Here's a bit about me: I'm a 26 year old wife, mom & interior designer. My husband's a high school English teacher & the most involved dad ever. He's always doing those random sweet things & in general, just makes my life better & easier.

On that note- the easy life. The simple life. I guess that's what I wanted this blog to be about. I try to impart the "pure style" philosophy into every aspect of life. It's taking pleasure in the little things & simplifying your life... making it beautiful. Home is really important to me. I believe the way we design our homes really determines how our life is going to play out in that house. Does your house make you smile when you walk in the door or does it make you cringe? Is your home pretty & organized & easy to live in or full of mess & clutter & unfinished tasks?

Photo by Trio Giovan from Cottage Living

I think when our homes are set up so we can live easily in them, we have more time to be with the people we love & to do the things we really care about. If we surround ourselves in an environment that relaxes us & works with us, we'll be happier.

Now, I am the definition of a "mess." When my husband & I first met in college & I was struggling to pull out my dining card from my super-packed & unorganized wallet, he handed the dining guy his card & had him swipe it for me and shook his head at me, "You're such a mess." I was shocked. I had never really thought of myself that way- I always wanted to be one of those really composed-looking people. You know- they have a little clutches & always look good- hair in place, makeup, great clothes. I call them "groomers" because as I've gotten older, I've realized it doesn't come naturally. Yes, the tendency to groom may come naturally, but the grooming itself, they have to work at it. They have to "groom." (And I'm not talking about those really naturally beautiful people. Beautiful people can be groomers or normal people.) I want to be one of them.

clutch by fredala

But my husband (actually, "Guy I'd just met in Creative Writing Class" at the time) made me realize what I truly was. An organized mess. A mess trying not to be a mess. Because I loved organization & cleaning out other people's junk drawers & rearranging their rooms. I could always find something eventually. Everything did have a place even if it wasn't always in its place. I realized I'm one of those people who naturally inflicts chaos into a room- I try on a bunch of clothes & throw them all on the chair when I'm finished. I work really hard to get something in working order & then I go & screw it all up!

It was good to face reality. Once I realized that I was truly a mess & couldn't change my innate habits, I became much more organized & life became simpler. I started thinking in terms of my handicap: "Because I'm such a mess, I always lose my car keys, so I need a place to put them." And Voila! I stopped losing my cars keys! (Most of the time.) And the trick to putting the clothes back in the closet lies in having a closet with extra space (empty hangers!) so it's not such a daunting task to try to fit the clothes back in. (This means constantly clearing out the stuff I don't wear & switching out my wardrobes seasonally because I unfortunately don't have a large closet.)

Photo from

I remember my best friend had been asked about her toothpaste tube on a job interview & of course she answered with what they were looking for: "When I'm finished using it, I flatten out the bottom part & fold it." That little toothpaste analogy really rings true with me- I forget about the toothpaste tube for a few days & then when it startes to get really gooped at the bottom & wrinkled & messed up, I fix it.

And I realized that this is how I handle a lot of aspects of my life. So I started putting little "spillovers" or "boobytraps" into the way I organize my life. The huge bottom drawer in my closet (an elfa drawer cart) has become the spot where I toss the things I have worn or tried on that aren't dirty. When it starts to get really full, then I empty it & start over. When my wallet starts to feel full, it gets cleaned out. (Would you believe it's actually a little clutch that my mom gave me that gets thrown into whatever bag I need for the day- diaper bag, work bag, pretty purse, etc.) So I've gotten to know myself & I now have little systems set into place to keep my messes at bay.

I see I'm rambling. I'll just really quickly say that I have an adorable one year-old & having him has, of course, really changed so much in our lives, but we really try to stay the same. He's such a flexible, sweet little guy & the 3 of us have so much fun together. But our time is so insanely valuable now. We've found the only way to keep things good is to become more scheduled- even going as far as to scheduling in "nothing to do" time.

I'm passionate about what I do- decorating & designing homes- & really think that it spills over into every aspect of life. The only way for us to keep things running long smoothly is to keep things simple, beautiful, organized and fun.

For now, I think the purpose of this blog is to write about trying to have that "pure style home" & being real about who we are to get that home. Putting booby traps in our organizational planning to stop fighting how we really live. And beautiful things, of course. (Not necessarily expensive, because I love a good thrift-store find. But right & easy & very "you.")

$15 chandelier I found at a thrift store: I painted it in a silverleaf & strung it with crystals found online. (I repaint it whenever a new mood strikes me- it's white now but I think it'll be going black for Halloween!)

-----------------------------------THE END ------

So that was it! haha my first post! As you can see, I wasn't even really sure what a blog was at the time. My blog has evolved with me & as time went on, I gained the confidence to share some of my work & own home with you all. I must say though, I still agree: Simple - Happy - Beautiful --- is what a home should be. We can all get our homes there & have fun in the process and that's what I've tried to make this blog about: sometimes you'll see organizational posts (simple), sometimes you'll see cheesy personal posts with my family (happy) and other times you'll see design-related posts (Beautiful) but I always try to keep the idea of living this way in mind when I post. I share our often unglamorous & (sometimes unsuccessful!!) DIY projects to show how crazy it can be to get to "simple" and "beautiful" but also to show how "happy" and fun (albeit exhausting) getting there can be.

Anyway, thanks everyone so much for reading and bearing with me. You're the best & I can't tell you how happy hearing from you all makes me. Hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane...