Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easter Time

"Now, its almost time for....the Easter Bunny"
Clairee from Steel Magnolias

Just a little reminder.... in about a week, it will be EASTER! 

Easter is such a great holiday, might as well have some fun with it.  Why not?  Everyone expects the traditional dyed eggs, jelly beans, and chocolate bunnies.  Woo hoo.... not very exciting or inspired!  How about a few updated ideas?

Peeps.  Ok, these little marshmallow treats are like cilantro.... loved by some and hated by others.  Personally, I think that they are a little kitsch and taste like road kill (sorry, Cathy).  But, even Peeps can have their place in Easter decor.

Peeps, jelly beans, and flowers.
Now, that's what I'm talking about... Peeps with panache.  If you look closely at the photo, the water line only comes up to the bottom of those little pink Peeps; otherwise, you might be creating a Peep-powered flower flotation-device.  Just sayin'.

Chocolate chicks and bunnies are tasty, but generally NOT very exciting.  These from Dean and Deluca, however, have that little edge of flamboyance and silliness which make them fun.  Perfect for an Easter basket or party favor.  

And, a new trend... faux chocolate Easter bunnies.  Now, THAT'S a clever idea.  Calorie free and they'll last season after season.  Great on a mantle, side table, buffet, or for a center piece.  But... finding them right now is a chore.  Fortunately, Martha Stewart to the rescue.
Arts and crafts... Martha style.  Full instructions and video are on her website.  Nevertheless, I'm still going to look for them online and forego the sandpaper, primer, paint, and clothespins.

Easter eggs.   From the eco-friendly to the faux, here are some interesting ideas for les œufs:
These eggs are dyed with cranberry juice, beet juice, grape juice, and tumeric with vinegar.  Eco-friendly, indeed.

Wooden Easter eggs from Apple n Amos.  Hopefully, they were created from sustainably harvested trees or recycled lumber!  (tee hee)

Alabaster eggs from Williams Sonoma.  I gave some of these alabaster eggs to a friend a few years ago for Easter.  They are beautiful, colorful, and fairly indestructible.  Hmmm... think that I might buy some for myself.

Egg shaped votive holders from Pottery Barn.  A little bling never hurts...

For those of you with waaaaaaaaay more time than good sense... an outdoor Easter egg tree.  According to the link above, there are in excess of 9500 eggs on that tree.  Holy crap!

Changing subjects, slightly.... food!  No reason that food needs to be boring.  Easter is, why not play with your food?
Raspberry lemon cake from the Food Network.

If you don't want to make your own cake, then you can most certainly buy one.  How about the "Perfect Endings Easter Egg Cake" from Williams Sonoma?  Not so sure that I want red velvet cake for Easter, but it is a lovely little confection.

Currently, cake pops are all the rage.  So... chicken Easter cake pops, anyone???  A great way to display them would be in a (lined) terra-cotta pot filled with dyed granulated sugar. 

Cupcake toppers... I think that these are just delightful!

And, last, but certainly not least... don't forget the Easter basket!  Buy one or make one... just don't forget it.
Beautiful baskets can be found at Dean & Deluca and from other sources like A Southern Season and Gourmet Gift Baskets. 

If you don't want to buy one, then you can simply make your own.  I created this one for my 70ish year old mother.  Yes, it was a tad silly!  But... whaccha goin' do?  The basket and the treats were all from the Fresh Market.

So, since Easter is almost here... hop to it!  (Ok, I know... that was awful.... HA.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Bilbao Effect

"The BILBAO effect"
Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry… I remain surprised that I live in a time, where somewhere in the world, it looks like this.   Shelia Heti.

Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an architect.  Eventually, the idea of architecture was eliminated from the job search.  Figuring out how much concrete and steel would be necessary to keep a 30 story building from collapsing seemed cumbersome, to say the least.  And, calculus kicked my a$$!

Despite my change in career choices, I DO still love a great building. 

This month, DETAILS magazine features an article stating that "architecturally dazzling exhibition halls {museums} are turning out-of-the-way locales into must-visit vacation spots."    (Details, April 2012, page 44.)

And, that brings up a question.....

Why are some structures immediately recognizable????  Years ago, I read a comment:  "If a child can draw a simple 'stick figure' sketch of a building or monument, then it is destined for wide appeal."

Let's see if that theory works.

la Tour Eiffel by Gustave Eiffel. Paris, France
A classic example.... and the answer to our theoretical question would be... YES.   While the Eiffel Tower immediately symbolizes Paris and France, it IS, indeed, fairly simple to draw.   Oh, I love Paris... but I digress. 

Let's try that idea out on a few other examples. 

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor.  Chicago, Illinois
"Cloud Gate" affectionally know as The Bean.

Since its formal dedication in 2006 in Millenium Park, The Bean has become one of the most visited landmarks and sculpture instillations in Chicago.  And, it is certaily easy to draw.  

The Great Pyramids. Giza, Egypt
The beauty of these monuments is... self explanatory.

The Burj al Arab. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Burj al Arab, one of the world's most luxurious hotels, and, now... a symbol of Dubai.

As was the case with the Guggenheim in Bilbao, some destinations have worked to create a building that would create architectural buzz and, hopefully, improve tourism. In Dubai, they even put their architectural symbol on the license plates.  Guess that you've got to do something will all of that oil money in the desert.  And, once again... easy to sketch.

The Great Wall. China
Drawing of The Great Wall of China from Register's ART illustration series
 THE Great Wall of China
Originally, the Great Wall was built to protect the Chinese Empire from nomadic intruders. Today, it is one of the man made wonders of the world stretching nearly 4,000 miles. 

The Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco, California
The Golden Gate Bridge and one very tired, Joey.   

Like the Great Wall of China, the Golden Gate Bridge, wasn't created to symbolize a city.... folks just needed a bridge. And, that famous International Orange was used because it could be seen the most easily in the San Francisco fog.  Today, it is as iconic as the trolley cars, one of my favorite bridges, and can be drawn by a first grader. 

The Opera House by Jorn Utzon, Sydney, Australia
The Sydney Opera House with the Harbor Bridge in the background

My absolute favorite building in the world!  Despite a dreadfully long plane ride from Los Angeles, 12 hours to be exact, Australia is amazing.  I fell in love at the first, "G'day mate," greeting and screamed when I saw the Opera House.  Dazzling!  And... look at that blue symbol.  Yes, it proves our theory, again. 

Cool theory, huh?

With all of this talk about great architecture, I need to take a trip... and step away from the computer. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It ain't easy being green.

"It ain't easy being green."
Martyn Lawrence Bullard fabrics for Schumacher

Seems like every magazine and catalog for the past couple of months has had one thing in common..... GREEN!

Why green????  Well... it DOES symbolize spring and these editors are trying to sell their products. 

Mae West is credited with the quote: "Too much of a good thing can be....wonderful!"   But, in the case of green, I might choose to disagree.

Green IS a great color (and one of my favorites, by the way).  But, a little goes a long way.  The key is to use it conservatively.... otherwise it becomes kitsch.

A smidge too much green, perhaps.  But, it IS balanced by all of that white and great natural light.
House Beautiful

They like green... they really like it.  Oy!  Fortunately, the island could be repainted and the ceiling wallpaper can be changed when their love affair with celadon green ends.  Green divorce?
House Beautiful

Oh, sweet Jesus!  Now that is just a hot green mess.  Why on earth would someone use THAT much green in any room... much less in a kitchen where the cabinets are one of the most expensive investments during a remodel??????

Let’s consider the 70s.  Who the hell would have ever thought that orange appliances were a smart move?  In retrospect... no one.  So, why invest in expensive green appliances or cabinets?  Bad idea.

So, how about some good ideas?

What about a green sofa?????  Leather, maybe?
Atelier chesterfield in bottle green by Anthropologie.... Lord knows, I do love tufted furniture.

Ok... a green leather sofa might be an expensive investment.  So, what about something a little cheaper?   A rug.
That could be amazing in a sunroom or dining room.
Still want something a bit cheaper?  How about some paint?
This room is a little junky for my taste...I couldn't resist.  Minimalist with color.
(Sorry.  No idea where I found that photo.)

That's ONE way to get the neighbors' attention!
Not sold on the idea of green walls?   What about an accent piece...... 
LA condo by Martyn Lawrence Bullard... check out the green tufted bench/chaise near the windows.

Adore, adore, adore those green velvet slipper chairs in Aerin Lauder's Wainscott's home in the Hamptons.  Photos from
Maybe another idea.  Throw pillows or bed linens.... notice that I didn't say "cheaper idea!"
Pillows, in both photos, by Madeline Weinrib for ABC Carpet and Home, NYC

Not feeling it... well maybe something for the kitchen.
Le Creuset cast iron dutch oven in fennel.
Use green sparingly and you house will just look fashionable... and not overdone.   

"It ain't easy being green."  Thanks, Kermit.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Garden inspiration

Garden inspiration
Bee Cottage makeover

"Do the best, where you are, with what you have."  African-American Proverb.

The use of that proverb after the image of a beautifully manicured lawn seems out of place.  Allow me to explain.

Was looking at my garden, earlier, which is lovely collection of half-dead plants, empty ceramic pots and pollen covered patio furniture.  A sad, pitiful sight, indeed.

So, I decided to look around for some garden inspiration when I came across this....

Jennifer Lopez's new house in the Hamptons. 

Dammit!  My little garden is the size of a postage stamp, and a water view is sadly missing!  Hmmmph.

Ok.... Not to be discouraged.  I remembered my friend, Mary Jo's favorite saying:  "I feel like I've spent my entire life making chicken salad from chicken $hit."  And, back to the internet I go for garden inspiration.

What makes a great outdoor space??????   That Bee Cottage space was pretty amazing. 

Bee Cottage makeover by Frances Schultz

A pool certainly helps!  And, I absolutely adore the fountains in this photo and the topiary birds in the first image.  Not so sure about grass beside the pool.... trying to keep lawn cuttings out of that turquoise water might be a royal pain in the butt.

Sometimes, the biggest achievement is just making a space useful.  And, rooftop gardens are a great idea.  Amazing what a little greenery can do for a space!

Anderson Cooper's former residence in NYC

NYC rooftop garden

But, then again, I don't live in New York City.  I'm a southern boy... who must be a little ADHD today.  Let's re-focus.

It certainly helps to have a place to perch..... what about some patio furniture ideas?

Love the foliage... the slightly over staged pillows, maybe not.
Stunning space... that elevated dining area is a great great great idea.

Me likey.  Anyone for a glass of tea or a mint julep? 

What about a fire pit???  When looking for a little drama... fire would certainly fit the bill.

Now I have a problem:  Too many ideas and not enough space to use all of them!  So, today, I'll settle for a couple of plants.  Succulents are pretty, virtually indestructible, and can fill-up a couple of those ceramic containers.   
Patio, chez moi. 
Furniture, Catalina from Restoration Hardware; throw pillows, Lee Jofa for Sunbrella; basket, Calypso Cottage

It is modest, not making the cover of Architectural Digest anytime soon, costs considerably less than Jennifer Lopez's $17 million hide-away, and continues to be the size of a postage stamp.  But, it's my little patio and I love it.   Chicken salad, anyone?

"Do the best, where you are, with what you have."