31 March 2010

What color is your front door?

Its Spring and we are thinking about perking up the fron of our house. Fine tuning the edged out flower beds and fixing the front porch top my husband's list and I must repaint the front door. It was white and I painted it black. My naivety led to the wrong paint bubbling up. My house is pink, yes pink, brick. The shutters are white. Sorry no picture. It is still too wintery, ugly out there.
I am toying with painting it a different color.

Maybe red.

Not blue.

I really hate purple, so that is right out.

This is so sunny and inviting but not for a pink brick house.


This green is nice. Some might call it boring but its not bad.


I think this green door is just marvelous.

This one is great too.

I hate to say it but I think I'll stick with black.
What color is your front door?

24 March 2010

American Modern

Hooray! My copy of American Modern by Thomas O'Brien just arrived. It all the buzz in blogs. I've taken a brief peak. There is much more text than your average design book.

I'll post things of note as soon as I come up for air.
Update: I am planning a review for Examiner.com. Just awaiting permission from Abrams.

19 March 2010


It is almost time for all of our furniture to don slipcovers while we trot off to our summer homes for the season. If we have them. If not, you can still continue the seasonal tradition with slipcovers for your furniture.
Joni  Webb, of Cote de Texas, had a lovely post on slipcovers or "slips" as she so charmingly calls them.

In a more recent post on the Alban's house, she used slips on the furniture in her client's family room.

I find the ties (as oppossed to zippered) rather fetching.
Some people hate, I mean really hate slipcovers. Maybe they had memories of a bad smelling house with plastic slipcovers.
They were originally pieces of cloth draped over furniture made of fine damasks and velvets to protect them. Some were tucked here and there and eventually began to be fitted to each piece. They are super practical. Washable furniture is a dream come true for clean freaks and germaphobes everywhere.
In the summer, many households now a days slipcover furniture in a casual look using denim or twill or ducking.

They aren't just for the living room. These dining chair covers are my idea of feminine style. Notice the ballerina shoe type ties on the legs.

Monogramming is a big trend in dining chair slips. I guess it helps you to identify them in a police lineup or something. I have never understood monogramming things that never leave your house and aren't in danger of being mixed up with someone else's.

This reminds me of a summery sundress.

Perfect when your chair has a party to host!

They certainly don't need to be all white.

This headboard slip looks easy to make.
This tablecover is adorable. I'm guessing it's washable.

Images from Country Living, Cottage Living and Cote de Texas.

16 March 2010

A tale of two cakes

I recently hosted a dinner for a friend's birthday.
The silver was not polished and the linens were not starched.
No one cared. 
I did use my great Grandmother's china and silver and the festive ivy plates (above) from the 1950s by Metlox.
We began with a Kir Royale appertif.
I made fresh baguettes to have with the salad composeè and cheese course after the main course. The main course was ginger-curry shrimp.
The dessert was birthday cake of course.
The icing is what my husband's family calls "Granny Steele Frosting". It is actually Creamy Vanilla Frosting (recipe below) that is traditionally used on Red Velvet cake. I had the family recipe but everytime I made it it broke and was thin and lumpy despite its delicious vanilla flavor.

I had thought for quite awhile that a bit of research might reveal a similar recipe that would yield better results.
It turns out that the ingredients in the family recipe are correct. It was the technique that lacked the specifics necessary to produce the mounds of white fluffy icing on this cake.

Pardon the photo--there was wine with dinner and it was a very long dinner!
I made the traditional Red Velvet cake. The Steeles always put the frosting on German Chocolate cake.
The frosting was rich and buttery and at the same time fluffy. The verdict on the frosting was--it's a keeper. Red Velvet cake--not so much. Lucky for me we had another birthday coming.

My darling son turned 15. He got a hot new guitar and a three layer German Chocolate cake with Granny Steele frosting made this way...
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1/2 a vanilla bean added to the milk mixture and removed after cooling)

In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.

Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on the medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer—set a timer!). Use immediately.

copied from: More From Magnolia: Recipes From The World-Famous Bakery and Magnolia's Home Kitchen

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Creamy-Vanilla-Frosting-241564

11 March 2010

Chair obsession

Every yard sale, antique store and furniture store holds at least one chair that catches my eye. I have been forbidden to buy any more chairs.
I especially love the graceful, if slightly exaggerated lines of the Victoria Hagan wing chair above.
Most people that know me would be surprised to see that I chose this chair as a favorite, being a bit of a traditionalist. The Corbu chair by architect Le Corbusier is a post modern icon and blends well with most decorating styles.
The Barcelona chair designed by architect Mies ver der Rohe is another mid-century must have. They are especially pleasing in pairs.
This one from Anthropologie may end up in my house in the future. Traditional design paired with anything unexpected really speaks to me.
This one from Downtown was just too groovy to be left out.
This is an example of a crapaud. Its funny name, pronounced crapo, means frog in French. There are other chairs with similar lines and the same name.
A real favorite is this antique French child's chair that has been enjoyed by four generations of children in my family and no one knows how many others.

05 March 2010

Meet Bubba

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.--Jane Austen

My living room is supremely comforting to me. I love it and make no apologies for its style. I managed to decorate it all for about $2500. After moving three years ago my decorating budget fell short, way short. I ended up with something that satisfied a creative itch and is far from a boxed up look from a catalog. Patience and luck coupled with a bit of elbow grease made it all happen.

There is one thing that in the room that is a tiny problem. It is Bubba.

Bubba is my decorating nemesis. I have a love /hate relationship with Bubba. Bubba saved us last winter when, on a four degree day, our furnace died. Bubba carried us through the next three chilly weeks until our furnace was replaced. Alas, Bubba is still with us.
Despite Bubba's appearance he has been of great use to us and I find it helpful to avoid direct eye contact with Bubba.

Here are some of the ways I managed to decorate this room.

I scored the silk taffeta on sale for $10 a yard. I got the wholesale rate from the drapery workshop and worked there part time so we just took out the cost in trade.

All of the fox hunt prints are antique originals that I purchased on ebay. Two of them I had framed and the other was framed satisfactorily.

This round table I found while driving down the street on trash day. One leg was broken off. It was an easy fix with a drill, dowels, and wood glue. I then refinished it myself. The cost in materials was about $10.
The two settees were the biggest score and one that may be hard to duplicate. This one was only $350. I'm not crazy about the fabric but I will get to recovering it when there are fewer little gooey fingers and wagging tails around. I saw the price and expected to find gouges, rips or stains in the fabric or worse...smells. It had none and it is rock solid.
The coffee table and end tables were purchased as a set for $250. I bought through ebay but did a search within a radius of my zipcode and picked them up. No shipping to pay for was a huge savings.

The end tables were perfect but the leather top on the coffee table had some damage so I used antique family snapshots under the glass to add interest and hide the damage.
I think I like the wall color best, Ralph Lauren Riding Coat Red. I like its velvety texture.

Even though Bubba is ugly, he is about saving money to spend on things I really want. We save about $1000 a year in heating costs. Removing Bubba is not part of my plan for this house.
In the next house I hope his cousin is somewhere instead of the living room.