Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Silhouettes - Part I

Once upon a time, there was life without cameras - digital or film. My kids can't even fathom this concept. They've never even seen a cell phone without a camera. Their generation has the luxury of taking pictures pretty much whenever they want. I know this because I find all sorts of crazy pictures on my phone when I forget to lock it. When I was a kid it was a big deal to use a camera. Remember getting 3 rolls of double prints developed only to get two good shots? 
Before cameras were invented, people had little recourse to capture the images of friends or family. If you were wealthy aristocracy, you could commission a painted portrait. This was impossible for most commoners.
In the late 18th century shade portraits evolved because they were a less expensive option to a painted portrait. The name silhouette comes from the French Minister of Finance, Etienne de Silhouette, who was very unpopular with the French people in the late 1750's for his unfair taxation. While the French people were suffering, Silhouette was more interested in cutting his shade portraits, and his name became synonymous with them.

With the advent of the computer there are fewer traditional silhouette artists (but apparently there is still one at Disneyland!). I am totally drawn to this art form. I was inspired by the fun artwork on the website Simply Silhouettes. In total DIY fashion am trying to replicate idea below:

  Isn't the scalloped detail pretty?

Through some tinkering in Photo Impact,
I edited a photo of my son Dylan

Stay tuned for next week's update for the competed pieces!

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Black Thumb

I am a plant killer. I've had this problem for some time, and like many of us I've long been in denial of it. I've bought more plants than I can count with the best intentions. This time, I tell myself, I will really take care of that Venus Fly Trap!  

My insanity started out with buying very pretty (keyword: expensive) items at Rogers Gardens near my house only to find they were dead a few weeks later. I foolishly believed that the more expensive plants would last longer (that must have been a sales pitch). I told myself it must have been that heat wave we had in August ('s always hot in August). I almost hit bottom when the $187 palm tree I bought for my husband's home office gradually turned brown one frond at a time. I think I remembered to water it, but I don't visit organized places in my home very often. 

I moved from the good stuff to $7 plants from Trader Joe's. It's not a big deal if it dies in a week, right? It was Poinsettias in December, Cyclamen for Valentine's Day, and the persistent lure of Hydrangeas. The prefix "hydra" means water, so does that mean Hydrangeas already have a lot of water (so I can ignore them), or I need to water them a lot? A friend told me the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I was certifiable.

Thankfully the solution to my problem is silk plants and trees. I know, I know.. you might think I'm talking about those tacky plastic things you see in the homes of little, blue-haired old ladies. Not all silk plants are equal, and the trees and arrangements from Pacific Silk Plants in San Juan Capistrano are amazing. Pacific Silk Plants is open to the public, but the store also sells to lots of very high end retailers in our area (who then add a hefty retail price tag). Best of all, Pacific Silks ship anywhere in the U.S!

Here is a beautiful arrangement in my kitchen. 
These orchids will probably outlive me.

A gorgeous Fishtail Palm. No watering! I can't kill it! Yea!
The basket is from The Plant Stand in Costa Mesa.

Pacific Silks even had this cute aqua pot!

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Splendor in the Bath

I have to confess that I'm hooked on HGTV. Even my 10 year old daughter loves it, and frequently we snuggle together on my bed for special mother/daughter time. Maybe we're just weird, but who knows when bonding will happen with a tween. Perhaps my love for home decorating shows lies in the excitement of new possibilities: new house, new rooms, new design ideas. What I think I really love about these shows is the quick fix. While I intellectually realize I'm watching a pre-scripted, well planned show, I get sucked into the idea that someone could swoop in, show me 3 homes in my price range, and that I'd be in a new home in less than a 1/2 hour.  Better yet, I'd be moved into my first home and decorators would have one room decorated for me in those 30 minutes.

This brings me to my red bathroom. We have been remodeling our home for over a year now (it's more like 10 years since we actually started). In that time the color scheme and style of our interior has changed dramatically. I guess we've gone from farmhouse/nautical to beach/french industrial/modern/transitional (whatever that is), and my new color scheme has grays, blues, creams, browns, and blacks. We've remodeled most of our house with the exception of the bathrooms. Since I've been informed by my CFO (aka my husband) that remodeling is halted until 2012, I must patiently live with our outdated bathrooms until then. Most of them I tolerate (but seriously, how gross is carpet in the bathroom?). The faucets are gold with green corroded pieces chipping off, the cabinets are a pink whitewash, and the dingy tile countertops are a pain to clean. The worst of all is the powder room, and my patience with it is wearing thin. Compared to the rest of the house, the powder room is like being all dressed up with your hair and makeup done, your best jewelry and beautiful clothes on, and then horrifically looking in the mirror and seeing a big green thing in between your teeth. 

The powder room has green walls, a red tile countertop, a pink-cast wood vanity, chipped and rusted gold faucets, and a tempermental toilet that frequently decides not to flush. Today I couldn't stand it any more. In my moment of insanity, I had an HGTV moment. I decided it would be a great idea to paint the red countertop. The rest I could live a while longer, but not the countertop. I bought a $5 can of "superbond" paint at the hardware store, taped everything off, and attempted my own 1/2 hour makeover. Although all the windows and doors were open, I quickly realized that the fumes were rediculously overpowering. You never see someone pass out from paint fumes on HGTV. Reluctantly, I had to stop painting. So much for my quick fix. Now I am stuck with half a painted countertop, and I called a professional painter for advice. On a positive note, I feel less irritated with the powder room than I did before I started painting. I think this is going to take longer and cost more than I anticipated.

Now I wonder, the next time my daughter hollers, "Hey mom, House Hunters International is on!", do I resist or once again get sucked into the fantasy? It depends if she made popcorn or not.

I want my new bathroom to feel something like this...isn't it dreamy?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gate Quest

It's funny how I rarely notice house details until I need to make a decision about using one.  Recently we needed to install some new windows, and my contractor asked me what kind of trim I wanted around them. Since I had never given a second thought to window moulding, I drove around slowly prowling my neighborhood. After fifty or so homes, I found the trim I wanted around the new windows (OK, so I'm a little perfectionistic).  This scenario has occurred countless times in the last year while we have been remodeling our house, and my latest obsession (did I really use that word?) is side gates.  Our old wood side gates are falling apart, and we have to replace them soon.  One of the gates no longer opens (which makes trash day problematic). Using my same strategy of scouting the neighborhood, I figured I would have more than enough styles to choose from.  I was oddly disappointed after my field trip.  While there are a plethora of gorgeous custom homes all around me, most of them have really boring gates.  What's the deal?  Am I the only one drawn to a really cool gate?

This is the most common gate in my neighborhood.
There's nothing really wrong with it,
but it's kind of boring.

On to the fun stuff!

 Cottage Style...always classic

Can you believe this one is vinyl?

I love the arch over the gate!

Cool finials on the columns!

The Rustic Look 

Looks like it's 100 years old.  I think it's from a monastery.

Looks like twigs, but I think it's wrought iron!


Several websites call this the "Secret Garden" gate. 
I wish I had this garden!

This gate is from my friend Mimi's house.
I love the wrought iron details.

Another gate at Mimi's house. The center medallion is beautiful.
How lucky is she?

Love the peek-a-boo detail

An Asian influence


  I could live with this one

Pretty, but no privacy

 A chippendale-esque gate?

I'm leaning towards the style of the stained door in the middle...
but perhaps in a fabulous gray to match my house?


I love my dog Panda, but....

For the modern beach house?

Why would anyone want a boring gate?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Favorite Things...part one

This is the inaugural post for the Mermaid Den! Since I've spent so much time ogling many blogs in our online community, I thought it was time to become part of it.  Today I'd love to share some of my favorite decor goodies, some which I have in my house, and some which I merely dream about!

I have been drawn to mermaids way before Disney created Ariel.  
Mermaids are powerful, they sing, and they live in the ocean. What's not to love? I lusted after this mermaid sculpture for years, and finally I have one proudly hanging in my kitchen.  Her name is Ethel and she is made by Chase Allen who lives on remote Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. Check out his website at

I'm pretty much obsessed with Mora clocks. 
Perhaps it's my Swedish heritage beckoning to me. 
I'm hoping to have one of these in my home some day!

Do you love the Paris industrial look?  We must be related.
I can only dream about this console table since it's a very expensive antique.

If we ever remodel our master bathroom, this is the tub for me.
Those bun feet! The curves! Swoon!

Have a wonderful week!