Saturday, March 31, 2012

Inspiration | Country Living UK

A couple weeks ago I got an email picture from my good friend, Holly.  We exchange a lot of emails {grammatically incorrect ones with lots of typos! kindred spirits, I say} about a lot of things that have nothing to do with design, but every once in a while she'll send an email with just a picture and very few words because none are needed.  She knows my style very well.  Having worked on two design projects together in my home certainly helps!  Anyway, typically these emails result in me high tailing it to the store to pick up a copy of whatever magazine she spotted.  Once I was out with Jimmy on a date when I got the email and I made him pull in a bookstore before the movie started because I couldn't handle waiting till the next day to see the home. {for the record, I blogged about that home here...}

Most recently, it was this image...

Of course I loved it. For its open shelves that are delightfully un-styled, for the linen skirt hanging from the counter, for the muted and neutral color palette perfect for a kitchen. Yep. Love. Just looking at it makes me want to bake a pie.

Well, it took me a few weeks to find the magazine. A couple days ago Andrew and I stopped at a bookstore after lunch and there was the magazine, front and center on the rack.  I believe it was saying "you-hoo, Tessa darling, here I am."  And just look what else was in the same issue...

A C-H-A-R-M-I-N-G stone cottage in Cornwall!

I recognized several Laura Ashley fabrics before I even read the article.  I've blogged about my love for her old fabrics and gorgeous design catalogues here and here.  The Laura Ashley of today is sadly not the same anymore. When Jimmy and I lived in our first apartment together in Boston I used to walk to the huge Back Bay Laura Ashley store and spend HOURS daydreaming how I would someday decorate our first home and the combinations of fabrics I would use.  Anyway, after staring at this cozy cottage for a bit I read the article, and low and behold, the owner is a former Laura Ashley visual merchandiser.  And you should see the stockpile of fabrics she has just waiting to be used.

I can picture myself here so easily.  There are more photos of this home in the March British edition of Country Living.  If you can get your hands on a copy, do. Have a lovely weekend!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recipe | Cinnamon + Sugar Pull Apart Bread

Good morning!
Spring Break greetings from Southern Ohio!
Yes, that's right.
Another Spring Break and we seem to be the only peeps in town.
I'm a bit of a party pooper when it comes to traveling for spring break.
I just don't feel the need to get out of town. In fact, I prefer to stay home.
Sure, a beach would be nice, but my favorite ones are in New England
where it isn't exactly beach weather this time of year.
I like being home, staying in our PJs a little longer,
spending time in the kitchen and garden, and enjoying my boys.
No airports, no suitcases to pack, no rushing around.
We've started each day with a big breakfast.
Oh. My. Goodness.

 As much as I enjoying cooking, eating, well, food in general, I'm not a big
food blog reader.  I don't really know why.
Thankfully, I stumbled on Joy's blog, this post on her bread, 
and I've been dreaming it about it ever since. Literally.
You must read her post, she describes it perfectly, and after seeing her
pictures and reading her descriptions I was under some spell and
found myself compelled to make it.
It is a test of patience this bread....

I made the dough last night, got up early this morning and went through the remaining steps...
Brown butter, sugar, cinnamon, yeasty dough {like a "soft pillow of heaven" as Joy described it.)
Let the dough rest, wait, punch it down, wait, roll it out + slice it up, wait, 
in the oven, wait, take it out, wait. wait, wait, wait...
Good grief, it is like torture.
But soooo worth it. So. Very. Worth. It.
Any wonder why I prefer a spring break at home?! :)
Now go make this before you start dreaming about it.
{I did not change a single thing, either.}
{Sure you can you frozen bread dough, but don't. Not this time!}

and one more, because I know you are wondering about the inside...
gooey, deliciousness...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Charlie's {Little Boy} Room

Several months ago we set about turning Charlie’s nursery into his ”little boy” room.  I know everyone seems to transition from crib to “big boy” room, but at age 3 you are still a little boy and I wanted his room to reflect this stage in his life.  Before long, baseball caps will replace the dress up clothes on the peg hooks and adventure books will out number Richard Scary on the shelves.  But not yet, not yet.

This room is very, very small and almost impossible to photograph, so bear with me..

The bed was Andrew's.  We repainted it in Ben. Moore's, Chelsea Gray.  My friend, Keri, {blog here} started a furniture painting business last summer {she does beautiful work, if you are local}.  She exclusively uses Annie Sloan Chalk paint, but was kind enough to switch it up for me.  

The check curtains and pillow were in his nursery and looked good against the new gray bed so I kept them.  As did the little brown dot pillow on the orange chair.  Its ruffled edge isn’t exactly boyish (little boy, big boy, or otherwise!).  The walls and ceiling are Shelbourne Buff {Ben Moore}.  The color does not photograph well, which is a shame, because I really like it.  The room has sloped ceilings and a row of four casement windows {Hence my difficulty getting good pictures. So tricky with natural light on only one side!!}

The sham + quilt are from Lands End {love} and the duvet cover + star pillowcase are IKEA.  I have about 5 different sheet sets {mostly Andrew’s old ones} so the bed is made up a bit differently every week.  I loved the surprise of clean sheets on my bed when I was little, would they be Strawberry Shortcake or Holly Hobby or the ruffled pink and green flowers?  Now it’s pirates, and snowmen, and cars, and stars....  For me, nothing beats fresh, crisp, white sheets, so that’s how I choose to photograph it, but to be clear, Charlie’s far more interested in the pirates! 

The other furniture pieces in the room are antiques.  The dresser under the windows once served as our changing table {bought at local antique mall}.  The large cupboard is an 1800’s pie safe {found through craigslist} and new to the room.  The cupboard was stripped when I bought it and missing all but one knob.  I liked the way the wood looked and decided to keep it that way {for now} then I sewed simple ticking panels {fabric from pottery barn} for the panels. It offers so much storage space for clothes. The sides are lined with artwork that Andrew made for Charlie when in kindergarten. Each afternoon he’d  come out of school waving something new to hang in Charlie’s room.  I don’t have the heart to take them down plus they hide the holes in the pie safe sides nicely.    :)

In the room are tractors from when Jimmy was a little boy.  I remember the day his Mom cleaned them all up and gave them to me.  Andrew was just a baby.  I was sitting outside on their side door step and she told me sweet stories of Jimmy playing with them when he was young and how she never left them outside, not a single night, so they would stay nice.  We miss her very much and it’s nice to have a little reminder of her in Charlie’s room.  

There are Noddy and Beatrix Potter books from England that my Nana read to me when I was a toddler.  A couple of my old Steiff animals {a bear, named Herbie, that burps when you tip him, bought on the Rue de Marche aux Herbes in Brussels.  Which I think translates to street of herbs.  Get it? "Herbie?" Well, I thought it was clever at the time! :) And a monkey, named Charlie, that was a gift from my Dad after he’d been away on business when I was very young} watch over Charlie while he sleeps. 

I used to remove the Steiff ear tags when I was little because I was convinced they hurt the animals.  Charlie, the monkey, looks like he has a pierced ear.  My Nana and I made up a song about Charlie {the monkey} that we sang when she tucked me in.  I sing it to my Charlie now. There are mementos from Charlie’s {my Charlie, not the monkey.  Gesh, this is getting a bit long winded and confusing!!} birthday parties, his birth announcement and other little keepsakes and treasures tucked away here are there.  The “Sammy the Seagull” print over the bed is from Wayne Pate {we talk to him each night too, the seagull, not the artist. Now I’m just cracking myself up!}, The small boy on the bike is from Lisa Golightly, and the penguins are an original from Charlie Foley. The small nickel reading sconce is from High Street Market.

I know the area along the side of his bed could use some attention, but given the frequent,  unannounced appearances of Charlie’s alter ego...

and the flying that takes place in this small space, I’m hesitate to hang anything over the bed just yet. 

His room is sweet, just like him, and one of the coziest places in our house.  I still have grand plans for his closet {wallpaper and create a work area} that will happen eventually

When we settle in with warm milk and our stack of books at day’s end, it takes tremendous effort on my part to get up and let him fall asleep on his own.  I want to stay snuggled in and forget the kitchen dishes and mess that awaits downstairs. I could so easily start a bad habit, but most nights I resist, settling for just a kiss before he nods off into dreamland on his own.  Every once in a while though, I stay.  Like last night. I lay next to his warm, tired little body, inhale the smell of Johnson’s baby shampoo in his hair and Burt's Bees lotion on his skin... Watch his chest rise and fall, listen to his breathing as it deepens and slows, mixed with the sounds of soft lullabies coming from his radio and see his lids get heavier and heavier.  Watching your child fall asleep so peacefully must be one of the sweetest things a Mama can see. Then I slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y, lift his heavy head buried deep in the space between my shoulder and chest and lay it on his pillow ever. so. gently. then tip toe out of his room.  Bottle it up.  G’night. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekend in Pictures

Hi there.  Today we turned on the air conditioning, killed two flies in the kitchen, bought charcoal at the hardware store and sunscreen at the drugstore.  It seems ridiculous to think it is only mid March.  On Saturday, we greened-up and went downtown Cincinnati for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.  It was a looooooong parade.  After an hour we ducked out of the crowded streets and took the boys to lunch at a restaurant over looking Fountain Square and watched from the windows.  Ahhh.. much better.  Today was the neighborhood Easter egg hunt.  It was Charlie's first time seeing the Easter Bunny.  He was OBSESSED.  Wouldn't leave the bunny's side, with pure excitement on his face the ENTIRE time.  He kept asking the bunny questions like "did you have a nice nap today?" "do you like marshmallows?" "are you going to the mall?"  I apologize to all the patient children that were working up the nerve to high five or hug the bunny, Charlie was a bit territorial of the bunny's time.  I loved watching Andrew right alongside him showing his little brother the finer points of egg hunting.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday Favorites

I don't know about you, but the time change has thrown me for a loop this week.  I had to remind myself multiple times today that it was indeed Thursday and not Friday. I suppose skipping ahead an hour equated with skipping ahead a whole day somewhere in my mind.  Anyway, here are a few favorite things that I've pinned recently that I felt were blog worthy too...

I made this fresh take on chicken salad for lunch today for Jimmy and I.  I think you can pretty much add avocado to anything, top it with a little cilantro and squeeze over some fresh lime juice and it will taste like spring and be delicious.  This was no exception.

shredded chicken + lime juice + chopped cilantro + chopped green onions + mashed avocado
season with salt and pepper + pile on a crusty baguette (don't forget the chips). 
(original recipe here )

The new spring line from Emerson Fry went live today.  Pretty, pretty.  Especially the orange dresses.  Tempted, so very tempted. I'm somewhat head over heels for the orange and white dress, but at almost $400 I'd rather spend my pennies elsewhere.  I can't quite see myself wearing that I as hop around to the park and pool this summer.

These custom monogram pillows from Jonathan Adler are just too fun.  I spent some time playing around with combinations on the website.  You pick the base color + the banding color + the monogram color and can mix and match to your heart's content.  So, so cute, especially for a child's room.  Here is a link to Jonathan Adler's site.

That's all for now.  I've got a jam packed weekend and week ahead of me.  I feel I should apologize for being a bit absent on your blogs lately too.  I desperately want to catch up, but I've been struggling to find the time. Part of the blame likes with this band of monkeys...

Along with my dear friend, Heather, we've been coaching a 3rd grade Destination Imagination since December.  They compete on March 24th and are very much the reason for the busy days ahead of me.  If you are unfamiliar with Destination Imagination and curious, you can learn more here.  Hope to be back soon... Enjoy your weekends and remember to wear green!! :)