D'you know anyone who was born in 1958?

I think this calendar towel would make a really fun gift for the right person.


Cutest. Teapot. Ever.

No, I mean it, this one really takes the cake. Found this Saturday at the musty Heritage Trail (Antique) Mall on Ridge Rd. in Wilmette. I went in with no expectations, and I came out with my new baby, and a reminder that I am rather allergic to dust. My mom and I spotted a few very special pieces amidst a lot of junk. I was only able to come home with this one, but I think I will be back. Definitely worth the hunt.

Sorry about the crummy photo - I will re-try tomorrow!


My dream dresser

If only shipping alone didn't cost $300 ... it's so close, so close.
Please, someone tell me where I can find this in Chicago, for under $200?
I guess I'll just keep dreaming. And, you know, haunting Craigslist. Rattling chains and all.



As much as I love color, lately I've been gravitating towards a lot of neutral toned art. It's not as boring as you might think, and the lack of vibrant colors leaves you free to contemplate intricate detail or interesting compositions.

I know that several of these artists or their works may be familiar to you, but I thought you might appreciate seeing them in this context - and for those of you who don't recognize them, I think they deserve introduction.

Relocation by Lilly Piri

A Cage for Two by Little Robot

On Beauty print by Hammerpress

Trying, by Dan-ah Kim

Ornament print, by Abigail Percy

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists poster by The Small Stakes

The Suffragette by bees knees industries


Got a light?

I've been looking for a few red items to balance out the tidal wave of greens and yellows that have taken over my living room. I love them to death, but it's always nice to spice things up - and since my curtains have a red accent, I thought I would accentuate that a bit. I never thought I would decorate with red (kind of like I never, ever thought I would decorate with orange) but it seems to have insinuated itself into my taste with incredible ease. Rather than allow myself to be intimidated by its way of dominating a room, I've come to appreciate the impact red can give to a space in small doses.

You can imagine my pleasure when I came across these Folk Art Flames at Wisteria.

I'm not sure if I could bring myself to actually use them, though. They're too pretty!

With my luck, I'd probably start a fire anyways. My Macbook power cord has been acting up lately - making weird popping sounds. Tuesday night, it was feeling pretty hot, and all of a sudden I looked at it and all of the plastic near the part where the cord attaches to my laptop had melted. Yes, melted. So today I have a shiny new cord and a very wary mindset.


My Top Five...

from the Domino decorating contest (in no special order):

Maggie from LA

Jessica from NYC

Heidi from Brooklyn

Albert from Elberon, NJ

Steven from LA

Obviously this is a matter of individual taste - I am attracted to highly colorful eclectic spaces with unique details and a personal feel. I might have felt let down by the finalists chosen, and I might not be the only one, but I'm sure there are plenty of people that absolutely loved all of the choices and had no problem with the lack of range. Which is just fine ;)

domino disappoints

Wow. I never imagined that I would be saying this, but I was really disappointed with the finalists chosen for the domino decorating contest.

There were so many wonderful spaces to choose from, and I felt like this was really domino's opportunity show us something different and new. Not that there was anything wrong with the entries - all of them were quite lovely, but excepting Stephen's wild and wacky living room (very Jonathan Adler!), they were all extremely similar, rather conservative traditional-with-a-twist rooms. This was a chance to WOW us with the creativity of everyday people - not just the people with an aesthetic that we see every month in upscale shelter mags. Is that asking too much?

Click here to see what I'm talking about.

I would love to hear your opinion on this. Am I the only one who feels this way?



I think I'm in love.

That is, if it is possible to be in love with a textile. From Pottery Barn.

I'm crazy about whimsical, Scandinavian-style prints, so when I saw these sheets on Apartment Therapy, I just about flipped.

It's cuuuute right?
My sheets have been driving me crazy. It's not their fault - they're beautiful old Pierre Frey sheets that I've had for about a million years. I'm very fond of them. And they've aged well. But they've got that French country, shabby chic look that, while lovely, does not really go with my decor. It's been hard for me to find cute, inexpensive sheets that aren't so cheap that I fear nightly rashes. It's amazingly difficult to find sophisticated linens for twin beds.

I thought it would be a good time to post about my sheet saga (lots of sagas around here!) since it's bedroom week for the AT Cure...while I don't have a bedroom, per se, and my sheets are stored in a bin in the closet during the day, I still would like to sleep with pretty sheets as consolation for the fact that I don't have a real bed.

For months, I've obsessed over these sheets from Dwell. Of course, I waited too long to jump on them. They even went on sale, but I was broke and didn't want to pay $69.99 - I just kept telling myself I would buy them next week...until one day I went on the website and they were gooone. Out of stock. Forever. (They still make them in queen/king/full though).

I gave up on them, until a few days ago when I magically came across them again in the strangest of places.... However, the price had jumped back up to $99...still affordable for most, but not me.

Luckily, ebay came to my rescue. I found this buttery trellis print, also from Dwell, and decided to jump on it ... for a grand total of $25.50.

The duvet set only comes with one pillow sham, so I was thinking ... with a Swedish House sham my dreams would be very sweet indeed.



Hung Up, or, the coat rack saga you never knew you were missing

My apartment's pretty starved for space, in case you haven't picked up on that already. I love how cosy it is, but sometimes I wish it were a little more roomy. It has forced me to become pretty creative, however, when seeking solutions.

One recent AT Cure task was to create a landing strip. For most people, this meant dressing up their hallway a bit - moving in a coat rack, cleaning off their console table and creating a space to throw their keys and stash their mail on said console. Something like this spread from Blueprint ... all right, and this photo from another article:

I have pined for a console table ever since seeing it.

Unfortunately, I don't have a hallway. You open my front door and wham! my whole apartment is laid out before you. Pretty anticlimactic, but at least there are no surprises. The console table is just a pipe dream - you could maybe fit a narrow end table in the space between my bookshelf and the door, but I'd rather not squeeze things into spaces simply because they're there. The idea is open and airy, not cluttered and closed.

So...I drop my keys and the junk mail on the vintage hors d'oeuvres tray on my coffee table and dump my fifty-ton bag on the floor when I come in at the end of the day. It works OK - when the tray starts to tip to one side I know it's time to begin shredding.

Winter is approaching, however. And while my coats are still hanging out at my parent's house, I have a feeling they're going to be useful soon (this is Chicago, after all) and I really need someplace to hang them. I've been looking for the perfect coat hook rack for weeks now - something attractive, reasonably inexpensive ($20 and under, hopefully), as well as utilitarian. My idea was to find an overdoor model - I'd rather hang art on my dwindling wall space - but it seems that cute overdoor coat racks are few and far between. I'll spare you the trouble but let's just say they vary from ugly to uglier to ugliest.

I finally came across this Umbra model.

I loved the sleek design and hated the stainless steel - it's so cold looking. I'm one of those annoying people who ponder a purchase for weeks at a time - weeks that I could have spent enjoying it if I had just made up my mind - the bonus being that I almost never regret a purchase. So I vacillated back and forth over it, some days thinking I could just spray paint it red and it would be perfect, other days wondering why I should go through the effort and risk an ugly paint job.

Luckily, the problem seems to have solved itself. I had pretty much given up on my hunt for the perfect overdoor rack when I found (stumbled over, rather) this cool customer by Spectrum. It's exactly what I was looking for. It has interesting details: I love the wooden balls at the end that remind me of the iconic Eames coat rack. It's minimal yet fun. And, with shipping, the total is just over $22. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!



IKEA, how I love and loathe thee...

So I did make it to IKEA this weekend. I left with a headache, plus a lot of random little goodies, including but not limited to this $4 (yes, $4) fleece throw with sweet laser-cut trim with which I am cuddled up right now.

I also spotted this Patricia fabric which is beautiful in person. It would make gorgeous curtains or a wall hanging. The colors are so perfect for fall! It almost (almost) makes me wish I had chosen more somber tones for my own color scheme...but not quite.

I returned the evil filing cabinet which had caused the migraine of all design migraines. I was sad to part with it - or rather, sad to part with the idea of a small and convenient office storage solution, but not with the hassle of trying to put something together whose holes do not match up and whose directions were written for denizens of another planet. I ended up exchanging it for a cheap stopgap that I will simply have to be content with until I can afford something better.

I bought two of these green boxes for files plus the Fira box for sundry office supplies. I'm going to clear out a cubby in my bookshelf for the Fira box (it just fits), and the files will go under the breakfast bar. It's not the perfect solution but it will have to do for now.


Rainy Day Luxury

After weeks of unbearably untimely 90-degree weather here in Chicago, it is finally beginning to feel like fall! I get to pull my cozy sweaters out of storage and curl up with a blanket and a cup of tea, instead of attaching myself to the air conditioner. What better way to (belatedly) start off my favorite season than with a particularly special pot of tea?

I dropped a little bulb into the steaming water and watched the magic begin...

I sat, entranced, watching the blossom's progress until the tea itself began to grow cold. Which kind of negates the purpose, but still ... it was purty.

This post, by the way, represents my attempt to justify the $15 price tag...yes, you read that right. There was no sticker on the box of tea at Whole Foods. I yelped when they rang it up at the cash register, but with a line of people behind me I just decided to go with it.

I might be crazy but I think the prettiness is winning out. It wasn't the smartest purchase I've ever made, but like cashmere socks, sometimes the most pointless luxury items can make you feel very special indeed.


The Birds

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you are probably aware of my longstanding obsession with all things avian. Feeding this obsession is Hayden Harnett, who have just released this Ms. Hitchcock dress that is so fabulous that it's already backordered. Sorry to be such a tease, but...I just had to share.

Apartment Therapy Cure: Week Five, and the most exciting post ever

Here, finally, is the long-promised post on my AT Cure activities. Are you sure you're ready for this? A sampling of what I've been up to since the weekend awaits...

First, I went through piles of papers. And mail. And magazines. And random junk like pretty boxes from Saks that held even prettier Missoni gloves received as a Christmas present two years ago that I left in a cab ONE year ago, so why did I even still have them? Well, I don't know, so they've been re-embraced by Mother Nature. Anyways, this pile doesn't look like much, but trust me - it helped.

I also cleaned off the tops of my kitchen cabinets, which were coated with a prehistoric, rock hard layer of grease and grime and dust and who knows what else. In short, they were absolutely FOUL. I did not understand the true meaning of "elbow grease" until I got to work on them. To illustrate:

It looked much, much worse in real life. I promise.

I've been avoiding the yuckiness since I discovered it (by swiping my hand atop a cabinet door and coming away with swamp slime) upon moving in this June, so I'm very proud that they are now clean and storage-worthy.

What prompted my decision to attack the evil cabinet-tops was my very great need to store magazines. I've been keeping them in the big basket above my fridge, but I'm starting to get sick of looking at it, and it's not very useful for long-term storage.

I have a memory like a sieve so I can't remember my source, but somewhere I saw a photo of bookshelves, or a credenza, or something, that had very neatly aligned stacks of magazines with the white spines facing outwards. It didn't look cluttered at all. It looked very minimalist and almost cool. Then I remembered seeing someone's kitchen on Apartment Therapy (during last year's Smallest Coolest contest?) - that had stacks of books above the kitchen cabinets. So I decided to combine the two. This is just the tip of the iceberg - I still have tons of magazines at my parent's house that need to be retrieved. I've been bringing a few home, bit by bit, but magazines are ridiculously heavy so I'm taking my time with it.

I also decided to do something with my vast collection of museum postcards and other random unnecessary bits of paper by collaging my fridge. Impermanently, with architectural magnets I picked up at the Whitney years ago. They've been waiting patiently for just such a purpose.*

I've been chewing over the results ever since. I'm torn between loving the color and eclecticism and hating the cluttered-ness. I want it to look fun and unstudied, but not messy and amateur. Does that make sense? I'd really appreciate some additional opinions. Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Finally, last night I got rid of more random crap (namely, dry cleaning detrius and leftover shopping bags)...

I also removed my coins from the ugly vase thing that was sitting atop my fridge (threw it away, too) and put them in my new piggy bank! I think it's just about the cutest thing ever. Yellow, and smiley, this little owl does me in every time.

Babushkas may be the new forest creatures (and God help me I do think they are precious) - but who am I to blindly follow trends? I just love this little guy and I hope he'll be with me for a long time. He's small, though, so I separated the coins and put the pennies in a separate container. Quarters go straight to the laundry change purse. Let's see how long that system will last...

And that's about it for now.

So am I right or what? Wasn't that the most exciting post ever?
Just ignore my sarcasm. This stuff might be deathly boring (except for the fridge-arranging, that was fun to do...and my new ceramic-feathered friend) but it does make a big difference in how I feel about my home. A lot of these things have been nagging me for months, and while I still have a lot of projects to slog through, I really feel like I am making progress. And that's the important part.

* So impermanent, in fact, that I just crashed into my frigo (I'm perpetually clumsy) and knocked half of the thing to the ground. Good thing I documented it with pictures or I'd really be gritting my teeth right now...



O at Home

I've never been a big Oprah fan (gasp!) so you'll forgive me for admitting that I've never picked up one of her magazines. I didn't even know she had a shelter mag, but, well, we learn new things every day. I flipped through the Fall 2007 O at Home issue and I was seriously wowed by several of the features.

I loved their article promoting pillows as a stylish and easy way to spice up a room, particularly this exuberant, leafy display (surprise, surprise). They used a plain white IKEA couch, which forms a neutral backdrop for the pillows. I was impressed by this - most other magazines wouldn't have qualms about using the $8,000 chesterfield from Williams Sonoma Home instead (well, they use it elsewhere in the issue) but it's nice to be reminded of economical options. I sort of love those chunky legs!

What really got me was the apartment the magazine's editors spent decorating from scratch. I loved that they made a point of using resources accessible to all, and they picked things from all different price points. But most of all, I just thought it looked fantastic, and I was very jealous of the imaginary woman for whom it was designed, with "fun, fantasy and fabulous" in mind.

I won't belabor my obsession; I rather think the pictures speak for themselves. The look is colorful, fun, and altogether chic.

Finally, I thought their feature, One Hour, One Day, One Weekend was particularly of note to AT Cure participees. As the title suggests, they took one woman's apartment, which was already lovely, and made it spectacular in three steps, showing what can be accomplished in one hour, one weekend, and one day. This post is already super-long so I'm not adding photos. I'd recommend you check it out for yourself - perhaps it will inspire your own transformation.

I'm sorry about the dearth of posting lately but I've been very busy and my internet connection is straggling. I'm going to try to get a post up about my Cure progress tomorrow!

Taxidermists Digest

There's been a bit of blog buzz about the opening of the new Condé Nast store where you can purchase old House and Garden photographs, including cover images. I decided (finally, after my internet started working again today) to check it out for myself, and almost died when I saw this cover photograph by Anton Bruehl from January 1937:

HIDEOUS, right? But in the most hilarious way? I seriously cannot stop laughing long enough to post this. Maybe my sense of humor is just sick. But I think it it all boils down to this very important question:

Is or isn't the dog stuffed?



Apollo and Daphne by Gianlorenzo Bernini

A soaring drowsiness possessed her; growing
In earth she stood, white thighs embraced by climbing
Bark, her white arms branches, her fair head swaying
In a cloud of leaves; all that was Daphne bowed
In the stirring of the wind, the glittering green
Leaf twined within her hair and she was laurel.

Ovid's Metamorphoses, trans. Horace Gregory

THE STAG no. 1 by Monstruo

Broken Pieces of Yesterday, by Shawn Stucky

Lady Bird by Julianna Swaney

Unicia by art and ghosts

Man finds his inner baby bird by Melabo

Specimen 6. Barn Mouse/Frog/Sea Flora by wondercabinet