Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Found It...The search for the perfect ice cube!

About a year ago I was in Chicago at The W Hotel on Lakeshore Drive. I personally love W properties. Working in meetings and events, I see a lot of hotels...a lot. W hotels are consistently well designed, have great service, and while not the cheapest, are an affordable luxury experience. Plus they allow pets, so think of all the $$ you save on dog walkers while you're gone!

But I digress. It was particularly sweltering during my trip and a friend and I had been up and down the city all day long looking for interesting local shops (for which I highly recommend hopping on the L and venturing to the Armitage shopping area in Lincoln Park). We were hot, sweaty, exhausted and not feeling very chic when we made it back to the hotel. Trying to rally ourselves for dinner, we flopped down in the on the patio area to enjoy the rocking chairs and great view of the lake.

And, inside the lobby was a little drink station with self serve lemonade that we still rave about to this day. Not so much the lemonade, but the ice cubes. Inside each highball glass was a large round ice cube that had strawberry puree, strawberry slices and chopped up mint frozen inside. Besides looking cool, as we sipped our lemonade the ice gradually melted, infusing our lemonade with the strawberry-minty goodness. Not many people get this excited about ice, but there you go...I was hooked.

I so badly wanted to recreate this at home. I looked all over and found every shape of ice cube tray imaginable, but no big round spheres. We tried to recreate with regular old cubes for a baby shower event, but we just couldn't hit the mark.

Until today when browsing through the MoMA website (I should have known to start there in the first place), there they were. My long lost ice trays...found at last! And apparently I'm not the only one in love with these, because they're on back order, drats!
P.S. Let the countdown begin for the W Washington, opening July 8. See you on the Sky Terrace (aka. rooftop bar) for the best view in the city.

I was too exhausted to think about taking photos. Luckily someone else did, so these are from here, here and here

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Entertaining Tips

One of my favorite parts of summer is eating and entertaining outdoors. I don't know why taking food outside makes it taste better. It's one of life's great mysteries. It's my adult version of camping out in the living room. (Remember how any activity was more fun when done in a fort made of old sheets). This summer I'm looking forward to many laid back evenings on the porch (Yes hello, Mother Nature, that means you need to knock it off with all these crazy east coast storms and humidity, please). Here are some summer entertaining tips I've been collecting:

1) Trees are not required for pretty lights. A paper lantern and a string tied to anything you've got...or a stick if you've got nothin'... is a fast way to festive. (I like these inexpensive lanterns from World Market).

2) Outdoor entertaining can be for 1 (or 2). Don't wait to have a full blown BBQ with every friend and family member you know. Light a candle, carry your dinner plate outside and see how fast your day melts away. (I know what I said in tip #1, but if you have a spot to string lights...then go big, it will be one hour worth of decorating that will last you all summer).

3) No outdoor dinnerware, no problem! Look around and be creative. Necessity is the soul of inspiration. I guarantee that people will leave talking about your (free!) picked from the tree coasters more than they would any fancy "outdoor entertaining" ones you bought from the store.

4) Remember to windproof. Nothing is fun about your table/decorations blowing over in your lap. I love the genius idea of combing flowers and candles into one piece. Weighting table linens can also be done with a button attached to the corner to hang something with a little weight off of, or incorporating some heavy shells or rocks along the table setting.

5) Utilitarian decor looks great outside. Tiles running down a table are function, and pretty. Eating outside erases some of the table setting conceptions that people have so why not break the box all together. Things that would look funny in your dining room, will look great in the garden.

6) Stretch your space. For many people they have more room outside than confined in their dining room or kitchen. So spread things out to encourage people to stroll around a bit. Put the bar at the farthest point of the space, because I promise, everyone will go over there anyway. And make it self-serve so you can set it and forget it.

Happy Summer!

All images via Ms. Stewart

Monday, June 22, 2009

One person's clutter is another person's 'Chair Fund'

Wheew, what a weekend! I hope you all had a lovely start of summer weekend. Sorry for my absence, I've spent the last week covered up to my eyeballs in little orange price stickers. This past weekend I participated in my first ever yard sale. You would think that since my car seems to swerve to the side of the road on autopilot every time I pass a flea market or antique shop, that I would be a hardcore yard-saler. But this was new territory for me.

I'm an avid believer that your belongings have to grow and evolve as you do. Sometimes it's weeding out things here and there, and other times it's about clearing the decks and making room for new inspiration. This was one of those times for me. My stuff was great, it was beautiful, but it's time for a change, so out on the yard it went. All priced to sell.

And a weekend of quarters, dimes and nickels later, I have a nice little change fund to do that with. Goodbye clutter, hello beautiful:

This little number has been on my mind all week, since spying it in my latest House Beautiful. Yes, I read all the in/out listings that say Ikat is a fading trend, but I don't care. I love it and it's my house. (Via Urban Outfitters)

And everyone needs a pretty little place to do the really important things in blog. So why not take my new found funds and buy myself a classic: The Parson Desk. Mine will be glossy white, though. This has been on my Home Bucket List (and on my bucket list it's paired with a Louis Ghost Armchair, but that will have to wait until the next yard sale) along with a modern, clean lined canopy bed and a Saarien Tulip Table.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Easy as 1, 2, 3

Earlier this week, I was at a friend's house and spied this lovely bucket arrangement in her dining room. My cameraphone, stalkerati-type photo doesn't do it justice--it's so bright and fresh looking in person. When I asked her about it, she said "oh yeah, we were pruning the garden this afternoon and these are the extras." Further proof of how truly stunning the simplest things can be.

I no longer have any excuses for not having something fresh in the house (except maybe that pesky winter concept).

Branches collected in the yard or on a walk + big colorful bucket = summer, easy as 1,2, 3!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beautiful Photos At Your Fingertips

Hello All, I hope that you had a fabulous weekend. My brain is still in Sunday mode and finding it impossibly hard to switch back over to a more productive mindset. Which gives me lots of motivation to scan the big world wide web and deliver you this eye candy. Everything happens for a reason, right.

House Beautiful has not only stepped it up with the recent issues (how can you not when you suddenly are the 'veteran' publication because all the competitors bit the dust), but they have also delivered exactly what we the readers (and by that I mean me, myself and I) really want. A searchable photo gallery. Bonus points to you HB, because the pics in the gallery load really fast. I hope they continue to add more categories and sort terms in the future.

Here's what I loved this morning:

How easy would this look be to recreate. And especially great for that stylish teen/young adult in your life who wants a trendy room like the magazines, but also has tastes that change endlessly.

I love bedrooms that hit that dark masculine/soft feminine chord. Check.

Double my love of the Gramercy sink in this bathroom to go around.

I know that you're not supposed to say things like this, but if this was my kitchen, my life would indeed actually be complete.

In the meantime, I'd settle for this one.

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blog Love Updates

Doing a little house keeping around here today, including a long overdue Blogroll update. I love finding new sources of inspiration and blogs that I may not have heard about from other blogrolls. And I really should update mine more often (err...more than that, once that I've done it, um...right now.) It's like the dentist, you know you should go but it just always seems to be at the bottom of the list. I've added some new ones that really get me all excited. But really, all of them over there are fabulous, so take a look.

And I thought I'd share a few new and new to me blogs that I've been poruing over this week:

A Life More Fabulous caught my eye with this post about an artist-friend from africa and then hooked me in today with peony topped birthday cake that looks very fabulous, yet totally simple.

Rebecca June is an interior designer from California that I found via a shared lusting over Saarinen tables. And then I read that she also has a girl crush on Rashida Jones, just like me. Rebecca and Rashida should be friends, Rashida and I should be friends. I think that Rebecca and I are going to have to settle for being friends with each other.

And last but not least, I don't know how I am just now hearing about this blog, I must be living under a rock. Fellow DC blogger Jenn, has this great little blog called Department of the Interior. She defines luxury as white bedding, check...has great little DC tidbits, like this post about the Georgetown French Market, and has great inpiration from all realms like these O'Keeffe/Adams photos.

Anyone have any other great new reads to share?

Top image found via Material Girls.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Harry Barker

There is no shortage of stylish dog gear out there these days. And I'm not talking about tank tops for your pooch with cute adjective on them. I'm talking about stylish, functional options for the daily gear that you have to see everyday anyway.

Enter Harry Barker, Smart and Stylish is their motto. I'm loving the great line of products that is not only great looking, but from a socially responsible company and as a whole the products are reasonable in price.
Roxy and Boston always love a good stripe. Made from 100% certified recycled plastics, it also has a ergonomic design for a comfortable fit and can be thrown right into the washer.
Really good looking dog beds are not as easy to find as you think. These are made with all natural dyes and a recycled filler. I'm in love with the silhouette pattern below.
Harry Barker was started by former model Carol Perkins. While recovering from a traumatic brain tumor, Carol started making dog products for friends as a form of therapy. In high demand, she turned her craft into a business named after her own beloved Sheltie dog.
I can imagine these adorable little rope bones scattered all over my living room floor. It doesn't matter how many toys I buy, my dogs only want the one toy the other dog is playing with!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Art of the Tray

I have to say that the most inexpensive, multifunctional, pieces I have in my home are trays of all different shapes, sizes and varieties. These are my little home miracle workers, transforming my stacks of mail and clutter into something more visually appealing.

I don't question why this works, I just go with it. The formula seems to go like this: a group of random object sitting on your kitchen counter = a big cluttery mess. A group of random object stacked up on a big sleek tray = a cool, stylish counter. Hence...the Art of the Tray!

All the above images are from Domino. I thought that "tray display" was one of the areas this magazine excelled at. Trays used in a variety of ways from a spot to sort mail, to a library atop an ottoman, to collecting the random coffee table necessities, I always thought their trays looked like people were actually using them, not just props for the pictures.

The ever-inspirational Erica over at Urban Grace combines two of my favorites: A tray and a garden stool. This is how I imagine Erica spending leisurely mornings sipping coffee and dreaming up creative blog posts.

Remember when Better Homes & Garden was your grandmother's monthly read, well not anymore!

Snakeskin makes a nice accent for flowers from the garden, a'la Eddie Ross.

Image: Suzanne Kasler

The tray is also a dinner party host's best friend. Never in the history of entertaining has there been something easier than cocktails and snacks on a pretty tray. I'm loving this big wicker version from Pottery Barn.

One of my go to, entertaining tips: Set out all necessary cocktail or wine glasses the night before on a tray with a stack of napkins and whatever else you have lying around (a long strand of pearls, some seashells, a big sprig of basil leaves, anything). Then if things get a little crazy in the last minutes of prep, when the guests walk in the door you look way ahead of the game...just grab your tray.
I snagged a similar tray to this West Elm version last year in an after Christmas sale and it now houses all of my bar ware in one convenient place. Nothing says prepared, like a bar you can pick up and take with you!

Top Image: Pottery Barn

Monday, June 8, 2009

Time for Charm

Today's Daily Candy had my mix-and-match little heart palpitating as I zoomed by mouse over to LA MER Collections to check out these amazing watches. For a reasonable price (about $100) you can mix and match between 4 different face finishes, 21 different bands and 14 different charm stories.

I especially love the ability to mix it up with both gold and silver accents and contrasting vintage looking charms with a modern shinny band.

A bit of color for your wrist. Hermes orange is just the little pop you need to make you smile everytime you look down.
This may be my favorite. Simple, streamlined, modern, but just a little "Mr T." attitude to get you through a tough meeting.