Love This Guy

I’ve had this drawing on my desktop for ages. Whenever I need a little chuckle I pull it up and read it.

Now, I’ve discovered that the artist, Marc Johns, not only sells prints, he sells t-shirts too! I think I’m going to have to get a t-shirt with the pipe smoking rabbit.

Just go and check out his stuff. You will laugh! And laughing is good for the soul!

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Can’t Stop Thinking about Lighting

So my quest for the perfect dining room is close to complete.

 

My Dining Room

My Horrible Fireplace Mantle

All I need to do is:

  1. Finish the drapes. I’m going to add a foot or so of accent fabric to the bottom of the white IKEA drapes I bought.
  2. Paint the fireplace mantle. I can’t stand the wood. I know some people love natural wood and think it is a sacrilege to paint it, but since I dislike the look of this mantle so much as is, I’m going to do it.
  3. Better accessorize the mantle and new shelves. I’m not so good at accessorizing. We have lots of great stuff to display. I just have a hard time put it all together in a pretty and cohesive way.
  4. Put a light above the dining table.

So this leads me to what I’ve decided to write about today. Lighting. Unless we get an electrician to put in an overhead lighting socket, we’re going to have to find a nice, non-hardwired light to hang.

Decorated Paper Shade inside an Anthropologie Store

I saw this very cool lighting idea at the Anthropologie store near me. It’s a huge Chinese paper lantern that is covered with old book pages, photos and other ephemera. I think this would add a nice personal touch to the dining room.

Drum Pendant Light with Lining

A simple drum pendant light that is lined with wallpaper or other decorative paper would be lovely above the table.

Orla Kiely Drum Pendant Shade

Or perhaps a drum pendant that has a pretty exterior?

IKEA Knappa Pendant

I already purchased this IKEA pendant as a temporary solution – though I have yet to hang it. I think my husband thinks it will look cheesy, but perhaps he’ll change his mind after I put it up.

Hmmm. I guess I should just put something up and give it a try!

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The Art of Photography

A few weeks back I had the pleasure and privilege to attend an Art Wolfe seminar at Portland State University. I’ve admired Art Wolfe’s work for quite a while and when I saw he was going to be in town I had to go.

First off, I want to say that Art (I can call him Art now that I’ve met him and he signed one of my books and he’s my new BFF, right?!) is a super nice, funny man who does not convey any sort of pompousness that one might think a person with his talent might have. I was actually a bit surprised at how down to earth he was.

I’ve been a quasi-photographer ever since I took my first photography class during my sophomore year in college. I enjoyed it enough that I minored in it (with a major in journalism) at Purdue. Since I’m not much (or any, really) of a painter, drawer or sculptor, photography is my form of art. I love looking at photography and dreaming of going to exotic places to shoot photos – especially after the Art Wolfe seminar where he talked about the trips he’ll be hosting to places like China, India and Japan.

But since it’s not in my immediate future to travel to such places, I have to make due with local opportunities. Which is fine, for now. Here are a few of my recent shots…

Another one of my take-aways from the Art Wolfe seminar was that he said a photo is more engaging if you capture a scene/person/animal/landscape not as you normally see it. Find a unique perspective, use a lens that offers a wide angle, use filters to change the color or exposure, change the depth of field – it’s all OK. Art admits that though he’s in the business of documenting culture and wildlife, his work is art.

“You should live in a place that uplifts your spirits,” Art said. “If you live for photography but don’t have your photos in your house, there is a disjunct.” When I got home, I got to thinking about this statement and realized that maybe I’m on the right track – I have lots of my own photos hanging in my home plus some photos taken by a friend of mine – and Art Wolfe books on my coffee table!

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Sogno di Toscana (Dream of Tuscany)

My husband and I had the most marvelous vacation back in 2000. We spent 17 glorious days in Italy with 14 of them spent in a farmhouse in Tuscany – with traveling all around the region by day and cooking with local ingredients in our kitchen at night. It was wonderful.¬†For 10 years, I’ve been dreaming about going back.

For some reason, I recently began receiving emails from Tablet, an boutique hotel booking website.

“Tablet Hotels is the cure for boring travel — the one-stop prescription shop for the jaded and harried traveler. We can’t tell you who you should be traveling with, and frankly, it’s none of our business; and airline travel has become commoditized. In the area of choosing a hotel and¬†getting the best price for it, however, we feel we have some expertise to offer.” ~ Tablet website

To say Tablet chooses nice, unique hotels to feature is a HUGE understatment. They feature the most dreamy, heart-racing, make-me-want-to-buy-a-plane-ticket-right-now kind of hotels. And I’m not kidding.

Today I discovered Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany. If Italy is your thing, check out these photos.

So who wants to go with me?

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Project Fish Room: Complete

Happy Monday!

So it’s been a really long while since I updated the progress of the Switch-A-Roo we’ve been doing between the dining room and the new “fish room.” When last we spoke about the Switch-A-Roo, I had just completed painting the dining room in anticipation of the new fish tank being delivered.

A couple weeks later, the fish tank, all 180 gallons of it, arrived. I was a little shocked by the size of the stand and tank.

The tank stand is longer than our 7-year-old son.

My hubby had measured it all out for me to see, but until I actually saw the behemoth, I didn’t really “get it.” Luckily after placing into the room, it didn’t seem quite as overwhelming as it did when it was being carried into the house.

Filling 180 gallons of water takes an eternity.

It took a couple weeks for the tank to “cycle,” so we didn’t have any fish or coral in it for a while.

The finished product!

But once they were all acclimated into their new home, it all came together nicely.

The former dining room turned cozy fish room.

The new fish room has turned out to be a wonderful little spot for relaxing – many a nap has been taken and many a glass of wine has been imbibed on the sofa!

The only thing left, I think, is putting some drapes up. Maybe that’ll happen sometime in the next couple years! :^)

Next up…finishing the new dining room. Updates to follow shortly!

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Summer Is Over

I don’t know where the summer went. It’s been a while since I blogged. Summer activities and trips took over our lives and something had to give. I’m sure you know what I mean.

My son started 2nd grade yesterday, and my daughter started pre-school today. As my husband said, this is the first free five hours I have had in a few years (lots of alliteration there!). I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. I guess I’ll blog!

Since I haven’t posted in a while I thought I’d just ease back into it and share a few of my favorite photos of the kids from this summer. Despite their bickering, I think they like each other.

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Sweet Summer Strawberries

When we moved into our house three summers ago, we were pleasantly surprised to find a small strawberry patch growing in the side yard. Mmmm, strawberries. We harvested a few handfuls of berries that year and thought we were in heavan. Each year though it has only gotten better and better.

This year, I was sure the harvest would be slim because of the cold, rainy spring and early summer we had here in Oregon. I’m sure glad I was wrong! Once it got warm and sunny a few weeks ago, the berries went nuts! Each day for the past couple weeks we’ve been able to go out to patch and pick a few handful – enough for snacking and tasty little after-dinner treat!

Nothing beats a little cup of fresh, sweet strawberries straight out of the garden with a scoop of homemade whip cream. My sister was in town a few weeks ago and questioned why we make whip cream every night when you can just buy a can of it. Why? Are you kidding? Have you ever tasted fresh whip cream? Well, now she has!

Making whip cream is super easy and only takes about 2 minutes. Here’s what I do:

First, I put the metal bowl from my KitchenAid mixer into the freezer for a few minutes to get it nice and cold. It’s important to keep the bowl that you’ll be using super cold – makes the whipping cream stiffer.

After the bowl is cold, I pour 1/2 pint (about a cup) of whipping cream or heavy whipping cream into the bowl. Add about 1/8 cup of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of vanilla to the cream. Beat the cream on the highest setting for approximately 1 1/2 minutes until soft peaks form. Done.

If you want to add a little extra flavor, add a little cinnamon to the cream. Mmm, that’s good too!

But alas, I think there’s only a couple more days worth of desserts. I’ll miss you strawberries. See you again next year!

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