Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24.... it IS Christmas Eve

Wrapping paper chez Joey
"On call" for Christmas this year.... OK.   But, on call for 5 days over the holidays.... oh sweet Lord.  This holiday season had the potential to completely suck!
Fortunately, Santa was very accommodating, and Christmas came a bit early for this little schizophrenic elf.
From cocktail parties at my house.... suidical Christmas trees and broken ornaments, 

Ruh roh!!!

Dammit. has certainly been a Christmas to remember!

Yes, the tree IS back in the upright position, bolted to the wall, and a Jonathan Adler poodle is on suicide watch.

As you might imagine, a massage was necessary after THAT little incident.  The Umstead in Cary, NC, was amazing, and they had live flowers in their Christmas trees.  {I DID have a bit of tree envy.  Just don't tell Santa.}  Hopefully, their trees went thru a full psychiatric evaluation prior to being decorated.  (Tee hee)
Real amaryllis wired into the trees at the Umstead Hotel and Spa

Pepper berries and pine cones at the Umstead

We even had Piglet, the office's version of Elf on the Shelf, as a stripper and having a spa day!  LOL

It was only then that I realized that the office staff really loved me.  My Christmas gift from Piglet was.........
"Jack Ass Red" wine.  Jack ass, huh?   Hmmmph! 
Actually, I laughed out loud.

Despite the "on call" aggravation and my initial concern that I was in Ho Ho Hell, this Christmas has been absolutely fantastic.... thanks to friends, family, and a fun staff at the office.  And, I haven't even mentioned the drag queens, dinner parties, shopping excursions, new friends {I just need to remember that there is a fine line between admiration and becoming a stalker! ha}, 'dirty Santa' gift exchange, and Christmas traditions with BESTest!

So, have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.  Mine has certainly been memorable!  See you next year. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

the RULES of Christmas

'tis the Season at Joey's hacienda

The common misconception that I've been carried off by a band of gypsies is, fortunately, untrue.

So... Let's talk Christmas!

As a self-proclaimed holiday decorating fool, there are a few rules of engagement which should be discussed with regards to ho ho ho decor. 

1.  Embrace maximalism... especially when it comes to the Christmas tree.  OK, I guess that we could be politically correct and refer to the tree as a non-denominational seasonal evergreen, but... nah.  Christmas tree it is!  And, I firmly believe:  Go Big or Go HOME.  Christmas ornaments should cover every living (or artificial) limb on that beast.

2.  Since you have embraced your inner ornament exhibitionist, it IS OK to be a bit more minimalist on other surfaces of your home.  Don't want to overdo a good thing.  Mantles can be elegant and simple.  And for the sake of baby Jesus, stay away from that that artificial stuff... unless it is really good.   There just ain't much worse than seeing red glitter faux magnolia leaves chucked onto a mantle. 
Ok, that is TOO minimalist even for me.  Let's try that one again.
3.  Include a little bit of nature.  Berries, twigs, sticks... something from the great outdoors.  Otherwise, it will look like you home has gotten into a glitter fight with Tinkerbell.   Just sayin'.
Mantle in the sun room with cattails from mom and preserved boxwood topiary trees. 

Chestnuts for roasting by an open fire.  Somehow, that analogy has always been a little disturbing to me... but I digress. 

The sideboard, last year... the illuminated sticks for those ceramic containers was a fantastic gift.  Thanks, Josie.
4.  Decorative Christmas trees are your friend.  Repeat:  Decorative Christmas trees are your friend!!!! And, do NOT attempt to use them sparingly. 
Trees in the sun room.
5.  Vintage candle sticks will cover up a multitude of decorating sins. 

Fortunately, my friends know me well.  Everything on that table was a gift!

5.  Don't be a feather hater. 

Pheasant feathers on the sideboard this year.  I might have crossed the tasteful to tacky line with that one.  But.... too late, now!

Feathered trees in the master... I LOVE them. 
6.  Reindeer should rule the holiday roost.  And, they should be EVERYWHERE... covering every flat surface of your home.  Well, all of those surfaces that are not already covered by Christmas trees.  HA
Glitter reindeer... and no, I'm not talking a remake of that horrendous Mariah Carey movie.  Nope.  Just stick with glittery reindeer. 

Lucite reindeer can be... AMAZING. 
 7.  Don't forget about your local plant store.  Poinsettias, Christmas cactus, hydrangeas, paper whites, and amaryllis are all wonderful in holiday homesteads.  Just be aware... paper whites are pretty but stinky.  Take my word for it.   They nearly ran me out of the sun room last holiday season. 

My little local store, "Plant and See"
8.  If your holiday disposition is more Grinch and ho ho hell, then start listening to Straight No Chaser's version of the "12 Days of Christmas" STAT.

...partridge in a big pear tree. 
9.  If that didn't work to improve your decorating mood, then find you favorite dammit doll.   Follow the instructions as listed below. 

I've only used mine a couple of times this year.   {Cue the evil giggle.} 
10.  And, finally, don't forget your outdoor spaces.  Twinkie lights should be everywhere... the more the merrier!   Buy them by the bushel.  You should be able to land a plane with all of that extra lighting.  So, it IS actually a safety factor for the airlines during this busy travel season.  (At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.) 
Happy holiday season.  Ho Ho Ho.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year... make it a good one!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

History of herringbone

Marble floor tile in herringbone pattern
Holy crap!  Check out the floor.....
That was my initial response after walking into the Sea Catch Restaurant in Georgetown a couple of months ago.  It was a rainy afternoon in our nation's capital - time for a snack and an adult beverage. 
And, then.... a bar with miles of marble and a completely kick ass floor!

Sea Catch Restaurant, Georgetown, DC

I promptly took a photo of the floor with my phone.  Sadly, after lunch and two drinks, my attention had been diverted to our next shopping excursion. 

Recently, a phone conversation rambled toward the topic of herringbone brick patterns for fireplaces.  They ARE simply spectacular and had recently been featured in one of the home magazines... Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, HGTV Magazine, Veranda, Southern Living, Traditional Home, or somewhere. 

Herringbone pattern of the firebox brick (inside the fireplace)
Remembering the floor in that great DC restaurant, I realized that herringbone is such a magnificent design element... it is classic, timeless, yet wonderfully chic.

But, where did it originate????

Rome, Italy
Around 500 BC, Rome began to build a series of roadways.  Those Viae Publicae were created to move people and products efficiently throughout the vast Roman Empire.  Simple construction rules required an interlocking "paver system" on a base of crushed stone.  Over the years, nearly 50,000 miles of Roman roadways were created using this system.

As the old saying goes, "All roads lead to Rome." 

Italian brick floor in Trajan's Market, Rome

Perhaps more interesting (in a slightly nerdy way) was that the fundamental design principle came from.... a fish! 

Skeleton of fish from the Herring family. 

Over the years, the Romans found that when the chevrons were pointed in the direction of traffic, the roads were extremely stable.  The official terminology for this type of interlocking construction is, opus spicatum, or “spiked work.”

Unfortunately, that brings up another topic in this discussion of zigzags.  What is the difference between chevron and herringbone patterns?

Simply illustrated, chevron is an inverted V-pattern; it is THE classic zigzag motif.   Herringbone, on the other hand, resembles a broken zigzag. 


Here are some examples for clarification.  Start with chevron.........

Missoni pillow in classic chevron pattern

 Chevron rugs by Madeline Weinrib
More examples of chevron patterns from Missoni, Dash & Albert, Urban Outfitters, and Company C

Chevron parquet flooring by Atelier de Granges
Paris apartment with fabulous chevron wood flooring

Now to herringbone.  Remember, the idea is a "broken" or "interwoven" zigzag.

Plates in herringbone pattern
Herringbone fabric in wool
Brick pavers in herringbone pattern
New Orleans Convention Center, NOLA

Herringbone pattern wood floor

So, you get the idea.

Since chevron is rather trendy right now, utilizing it for rugs and pillows seems like a good idea.  For the more permanent features of the home (back splashes, flooring, fireplace stonework, walkways), keep it traditional and classic.  A few great herringbone examples include:

Amazing floors featured in Style Hive
Herringbone floor in an apartment by Miles Redd

Herringbone brick in curved indoor hallway in Valentino's home
The only caveat to my love of herringbone is that the stone, brick, wood, or tile needs to be fairly consistent in pattern, grain, and color....otherwise it can look a tad busy!   Unless your aesthetic is Jonathan Adler meets Liberace with a touch of Vegas show-girl, less is more. 
Love the floor, but.... it only works because everything else in that room is VERY understated. 
The idea of designing a herringbone pattern gives me geometry flashbacks. 
Fortunately, today, there is NO need to grab graph paper, a pencil, and protractor to figure out herringbone patterns.  Tiger Stone makes equipment that lays brick in the herringbone pattern without all of that mathematical homework.  Currently, it is only for outdoor use, but their paving machine IS impressive.  Check out the photo and video from YouTube below.  


As you might have figured out, herringbone just does it for me!  Currently, it is the screen saver on my iPhone and the pattern of one of my favorite cashmere scarves.  (Well... a cashmere scarf is much cheaper than an entire Paris apartment!)  Even this photo of the floor from ABC Carpet & Home just makes me smile.  

Sixth floor, ABC Carpet & Home, NYC

Now you know this history of herringbone.   Happy Sunday.... and I need another cup of coffee!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Season....


Ahhhhhh.... fall.  The leaves start to change colors, the days get cooler, and PUMPKINS are everywhere. 

Sooooooo excited!

I am an equal opportunity pumpkin fanatic.  Real ones, glass ones, fake ones, grapevine ones, and even green glitter ones....

Love me some pumpkins!

A couple of wkends ago near Wilmington, NC, one of the local churches - Wesley Memorial United Methodist - was hosting their annual pumpkin patch fundraiser.  Of course, I had to stop on my way back from the beach.  And... they get some serious props for staging! 

This past weekend, I was able to have brunch with my mom in Asheville.  And, guess what the Grove Park Inn had on display at the front entrance..... pumpkins!
And, don't think that this is a new love affair.  Oh, no!  This is a long-term relationship.  In fact, a ceramic pumpkin from my childhood is proudly displayed in the master bedroom.
Sadly, I am completely inept at carving those little orange beauties.  Fortunately, Coastal Living and Southern Living have some great carved pumpkin displays for our enjoyment.

Of course, there are lots of other pumpkin ideas for the holidays.
Pumpkin luminaries...

Grapevine pumpkins with lights...
 Pumpkin window boxes...

Glass pumpkins....
And, perhaps a pumpkin wreath......
So, happy pumpkin season!!!!  Hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.