Monday, December 13, 2010

Calling on all of you France lovers out there...and home builders

This post calls for an apology and asks for some advice. First, I am so sorry for being MIA the last couple of months. Life has become incredibly busy, at times overwhelming, mostly good but incredibly challenging...and unfortunately, this blog and building our house have become the casualties.

Now for that advice...

I have good news and bad news.

Good news first: my family and I are going to Germany and France for Christmas! We are spending a week with his sister's family in Orscholz, Germany, which is a small town in Germany, on the border of Luxembourg and France. We are then going to take almost a week for ourselves to visit the Alsace Lorraine region for ourselves.

We are looking for recommendations for the Alsace Lorraine area. Have any of you been? Any good recommendations for hotels? restaurants? things to do or see? We have the Michelin Guide, but I always prefer your advice truthfully. I promise to take pictures!

Bad news second: Update on the house: we were not on the same page as our architect, and so we decided to part ways amicably. In the meantime, we've decided to get approvals for the land and determine without an architect exactly where we want to build on the ten acres. Once we determine that, I think we are going to see if we can find a stock plan that we can tweak to our desires. If not, we will start the search again for an architect. Ugh. Any words of wisdom for those of you who have been through it would be much appreciated.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Getting to Know Me

I received the "Getting to Know You" tag from Laura, from A Place for Tea. Time to force me out of my shell! I've been reserved on this blog, since the information is available for everyone in the world to see. But the truth is, I have nothing to hide, and I am quite flattered that you care to know more, since I very much enjoy your blog. So here goes:

1. What is your favorite time of day?

The still of night - I have the entire house to myself to clean without it immediately getting messy again, I can read without being interrupted, and of course, I can blog without feeling like I should be attending something or someone else, except my sleep. It's all on the table at 1:00 long as I can wake up in the morning with my son and go to work, which is not always easy, but when I indulge, it's worth it.

2. When and where did you meet the love of your life?

Met: Arlington, VA, Spring, 2001, intramural soccer league, work team: This tall, dark and handsome stranger ran onto the soccer field in a hurry - he was late. In the brisk night, under the lights, I laced up my cleats next to my then boyfriend, feeling guilty and not knowing why. The new guy was filling in for our goalie. Since I was on defense and had no idea what I was doing (I'm more of a hockey/lacrosse kind of a girl), the new goalie yelled at me the whole time. Since that was his job as goalie and he turned out to be a really sweet guy, I forgave him.

Fell in love: Arlington, VA/Washington, D.C., Late Summer, 2002: I was planning on moving back to my hometown in a few weeks. He offered his band to play for my going-away party. I said sure, and sparks flew. The next few weeks were head-over-heels, falling in love. The next few years were long-distance romance with long telephone calls and weekend drives back and forth to see each other. In 2005, he moved to the area, and the rest is history.

3. What three words would your friends outside of the blogging world use to describe you?

I don't have any. Just kidding. Straight from the horses' mouths (no offense ladies - you know I love you!):

Responder #1: Free spirited, adventurous, loyal
Responder #2: WOW - Only selecting 3 is hard. Genuine: There is nothing fake or pretentious about you. You call it how you see without judging or being harsh. Outgoing: You have always taken risks; studying abroad, moving to DC after school, got married and had a baby (haha); those are no small feats. I don't know the word for it but I call it "The Ferris Bueller Factor" - You always come out on top with a smile. You are one the smartest people I know but I have to laugh at your time management skills and the cute clumsiness about you!! I think you're fabulous.
Responder #3:genuine (i.e. real, know what I mean ; ), caring, patient ....ha ha Ok seriously not patient, but loyal
Responder #4: generous, spirited, compassionate

4. What country would you like to visit and why?

I would love to move to the middle east for a year or two. I love the exotic nature of arabian music, belly dancers, hookahs, horse races across the desert and veiled women. Perhaps Turkey as a home base so that I could still live and dress as I do currently and could take smaller trips to other countries like Syria, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, UAE and just keep on going. I'm not sure if I am brave enough to go to Iraq yet but would love to some day. I love the food, architecture and history of the general region. I dig Istanbul because of the East meets West sophisticated cosmopolitan (which is completely opposite of my life now!) vibe.

5. What is your favorite dish to cook?

I love cooking. It's my creative outlet. My new favorite thing to make is a chard tart. It's like a vegetable pie, which sounds unappetizing but is actually delicious. This summer, I made it a personal challenge to learn how to make crusts. This led to learning to make dishes that involve crusts. Of these, I think the chard tart is my favorite, which leads to the next question...

6. Salt or sugar?

That's easy. Salt! Salt, salt, salt...I would choose homefries and bacon over pastry, cheese over cake, french fries over ice cream, chard tart over raspberry tart and popcorn over cookies all day long.

7. Must have beauty or make-up?

I am still just learning how to put on make-up. My daily beauty regime is to wash my face every day, throw my hair in a ponytail and go. But if I'm a) feeling down on myself or b) need to get fancied up, then...

Age-Defying Oil of Olay face wash every morning and night.

Age-Defying Oil of Olay moisturizer with SPF every morning and night.

The NARS Multiple can be used on eyes, cheeks and lips.

Bobbi Brown Everything Mascara.

Do love my curler...

Eau de Toilette - BVLGARI Jasmine Noir.

8. What are you favorite flowers?

While I am delighted by flowers of all kinds, my absolute favorite are the Jennie Dahlias.

9. What are your worst vices?

It depends on what you consider a vice. Me? I don't considering my love of red wine or rich food a vice. I consider it fully appreciating the bounty that the Good Lord has given us. But, if you do consider that a vice and you're right, then I'm going to hell.

Now, this blog? Yeah, that's probably one of my biggest vices right now. And if you're talking about the real stuff, the big stuff...then....I am guilty of not using the gifts that I have been given to improve the communities that I belong to - my town, my church, my region, my state, my country, the world - more than I have.

10. What was the happiest time of your life?

I think elementary school age - what a fun time! Working is learning. Working is playing. Make-believe comes easily. The woods beyond the field represent the ultimate adventure. Being silly is not yet uncool. There are no difficult decisions or compromises to make, and your biggest responsibility is to feed the dog. Yup. That has to be it - definitely elementary school age.

The thought that the happiest time of my life was over twenty years ago would probably depress me if life after wasn't also good in its own way. Now, I am excited to join with my husband to help my child(ren?) create the same kinds of memories. how was that? xoxo Anne

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Friday Flower to Natasha at 5 Minutes Just For Me

This Friday's Flower goes to Natasha at 5 Minutes Just For Me.

Natasha is a very sweet and generous woman from Brisbane.

She loves her family, reading magazines, going to the beach, Christmas, Disneyland at Christmas, teacups, her beautiful kitchen, candles, pink roses, decorating with cloches and blogging.
She hosts two features on 5 Minutes Just For Me that I just love: 5 Minutes with... This is an interview with a blogger she likes and follows, who all just happen to be amazingly sweet and talented. It's a great way to get to know a community of very sweet, talented and inspirational bloggers. On Sunday Songs, she posts about a song every Sunday and asks others to link up their posts about a song. This is such a lovely way to get to know other bloggers and new music.

She recently offered a giveaway in honor of her blogaversary. How generous and sweet! I am so excited for the goodies to come in the mail.

Thank you Natasha and Happy Blogaversary!

As usual, linking up with Laura at A Place for Tea for Flower Fridays.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Can a big breakfast nook replace a dining room? Should it?

Should we plan a little breakfast nook in the kitchen for a quick bite with the dining functionality of the house augmented elsewhere with a dining room?
Should we have a big breakfast nook that can double as a dining room and just ELIMINATE the idea of a separate dining room?

How do you do it? Do you use your dining room? Do you double up?

This one below would also be a great place to serve the breakfast rush. I can just imagine feeding the kiddies oatmeal here, having coffee with friends, having friends hang out while I cook.

This one below is so cute and peaceful. I can totally imagine sitting here for cuppa tea or coffee after the morning rush. This are tiny, though, and would definitely require a separate dining room for holidays and special occasions. But maybe that is good to have? I do love dining, but a whole extra room just seems like a waste of space.

These next two are beautiful and could do double duty as dining rooms. I love how how bright and airy they are, with the vaulted ceiling, the multitude of windows and the french doors leading directly to the outside of the house.

We have a big local family with big family parties...I'm thinking a breakfast nook like this could accomodate everyone, and maybe we just eliminate a dining room? What do you think?

I started collecting these photos way before I started blogging, so if you know where they are from, please let me know, so I can cite the source.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dream Kitchens

I have collected these photos as inspiration as we think about what we want in a kitchen...

This is my absolute favorite kitchen, designed by Eleanor Cummings, of Houston, and featured in House Beautiful. I love almost everything about this kitchen, especially the iron stove hood, the big window with dark panes and a big arch, the limestone countertop, the shiny drawer pulls. Every room needs a little bit of shine! How cute yet subtle are the iron cow and pig?

This kitchen below, featured in Southern Living, has a totally different vibe, but I still love it. It's much more casual, humble and earthy. It still has a staircase leading into the kitchen, exposed ceiling beams and a wooden island with shiny pulls, although here the pulls seem to have lost some of their shine. Turquoise really works here for an accent color. I like the tall door with the transom light above. I like the simplicity and casualness of this kitchen, although the practical side of me wonders, where are all of the cabinets? Where would I store anything?

Oh, white kitchen, how I love thee? This kitchen was designed by Susan Dossetter and featured in House Beautiful as well. I love the sink looking out to the window. I love the double basin farmhouse sink. I love the polished soft silver sink fixtures. I love the shiny pulls and the crystal knobs. I love the marble countertop. I like the variation of width in the cabinets. Would it still look this white after Little Man tore through? I wonder...

OK, this one is from a house in San Francisco that was featured on Hooked on Houses this month. I love the brightness, the symmetry, the variation in height of the light fixtures. It looks like a good working kitchen and also one that makes entertaining easy.

OK, so I don't love the style of this kitchen (below), but I do love the layout. I love the stools that face the island. I love the separate work areas. I love the sitting area/breakfast nook in plain view of the chef. And I love all of the light coming in.

This (below) is from Southern Living. To me, this looks like a good working kitchen. It looks easy to move around in and accomplish things. This is important to me, because cooking is my creative release. I also like it because you can serve breakfast, still be working and talk to those sitting in the banquette. I think there is a window into the other side (which I think is a dining room). So you can open it if you want to socialize with guests, since everyone always wants to be in the kitchen at a party -or- close it if you just want to put your head down and get the cooking done without guests nosing around your dirty dishes.

This backsplash is perfection. This kitchen was featured on House of Turquoise this month.

I L-O-V-E this hutch.

and this one...

and this one. The interior design below was done by Betty Burgess and featured in Veranda.

...and these wide saddle stools, for my wide saddle.

We need help!
What is your favorite kitchen in the world?
What do you look for in a kitchen?
What is your favorite part of your kitchen?
What could you not live without?
What do you hate?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Luxury of Baths and Closets

Even though we generally want a small house, a generous master bathroom connected to separate walk-in closets is my dream and the one thing on which I will not compromise.  It would be a luxury that I would soak up into my bones like sponge and savor all day.  The one time my husband and I went on a date this year, he laid on the bed and watched me get ready while I chased Little Man around.  The romance is officially gone.  I long for the day when I can get out of my luxurious bath, put on a bathrobe and sit in privacy in front of the vanity to primp and then head to the closet to get dressed without ever going in my bedroom. 

I love the simple elegance of this bathroom.  I think it is by Gianetti Home (Velvet & Linen).

Look at all of this light coming in through these continuous windows.  Also, check out that hot (and totally out of my price range) copper tub.  I love clawfoot tubs, with or without the apron.

This bathroom is done by Eleanor Cummings and featured by House Beautiful.  How funky.  What an uncoventional use of space and color!  The wood in front of the bath rub and the shutters make it look so rustic, but the combination of the arch with the courageous use of color add personality.  I find it to be romantic and fun.

This is Goran Visnjic's (Dr. Luca Kovak on ER) bathroom.  I love the color.  Can you tell that purple is my favorite? I also love the Mediterranean feel, with the colorful tiles and iron in the windows.  Would it blend well with rural Pennsylvania? Maybe not.  I swear I was meant to live on the Mediterranean.  I love the arches, the wrought iron, the beautiful glass tiles.

Now this - this would blend.  This is the genuine authentic real thing.  With the clawfoot tub, clapboard siding and billowing white curtain, this bathroom would totally fit in the house I grew up.

I love this too (below).  This is from Trina at A Country Farmhouse.  She renovated this house, and it is absolutely an inspiration.  She has such attention to detail.  Everything from the fixture on the wall, to the wainscoting, the hexagon floor tile,  the air grate, the clawfoot tub, and the victorian table.  I am pretty sure my mimi (grandmother) had that foot stool.

This is also from A Country Farmhouse.  She really has a way.  I love the privacy shutters on the bottom half of the window.

Still from A Country Farmhouse.  Check out the walk-in closet with vanity at the end of the wall.  Armoires and dressers work in the place of built-in cabinets for a lot more charm and authenticity.

From a practical viewpoint, the natural light coming in (below) where you do your make up has to help with the end result.  ( I need all of the help I can get - I am terrible with make up!).

This walk-in closet is a dream.  You should know my existing closet is so narrow the hangers don't fit with the door closed - it's at most three feet wide and eighteen inches deep.  I dream of a bathroom that I can walk directly out of into a closet like this to choose what I am going to wear.

By the way, From the Right Bank has a great post today on renovating her closet. 

What is your inspiration for a master bathroom and walk-in closet? 
What is your favorite bathroom?
Your favorite closet?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bittersweet Flower Friday

Sorry for the spacing, I'm having technical difficulties.

Today, my flower goes to Shauna Niequest,   the author of the book, Bittersweet,  in honor of my winning her new book in the giveaway by Abby and Her Boys.  Notice the photo effects? Courtesy of picnik, and the tutorial posted by Andrea at Faded Plains.

These flowers are fitting, because they are bittersweet.  They are from my mother's garden, which still blooms from spring to fall despite my infrequent and inexperienced attention.  They are another reminder of one of life's greatest lessons, which I learned in the garden, from my mom - you can't have the sweet without the bitter.  We all love her sweet, sweet flowers that still bloom three years later, and we've earned them.

I can't wait to read the book.  Thank you so much Abby and Shauna!  And thanks to Laura for hosting Flower Fridays!

Have a great weekend everyone! Enjoy it, and all of the wonderful women in your life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bedroom Inspiration

I can totally see this vignette as I walk through the door into the master bedroom.  By the way, does anyone know where these curtains are from?

As you walk a little further, you might find something like this:

or perhaps a vaulted ceiling? I find the painted boards charming.

or painted exposed ceiling beams?

I love this use of space.

Another Eleanor Cummings design that is absolutely stunning.  Perfect.
If we lived in Texas, we would have this:

House Beautiful

If only we lived in Greece, then we would have this:

Or in New York City, we might have this:

House Beautiful

Simple beauty.

Hot hammered headboard.

Pottery Barn perfection.

What inspires you in the bedroom?

By the way, I started collecting these photos a long time ago and don't have the sources for some of the images.  If you can help me with some of the unsourced images, I would be grateful.  Thanks in advance.