eclectic design inspiration

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Almost Merry Christmas!! Shopping anyone?

Yeeeeeeeeehaw from the Lonestar State! Yesterday morning at 5:30am I stepped outside of Houston's George Bush (W? HW? It's ambiguous...) Intercontinental Airport wearing my Ugg boots and heavy winter coat only to find out that my mom's description of the weather being "chilly" actually meant mid 70s. Whaaaaaat? I packed boots and boots and leggings and hoodies. Welcome home...

After making a stop at the Kolache Factory for breakfast, taking a much-needed nap at my grandparents' house and then hitting up Antone's Po' Boys for lunch, my mom, brother and I made our way to the grandiose Memorial City Mall to do some Christmas shopping. My brother and I split from my mom so that we could shop for her and my sister while she shopped for us, and we managed to run into each other only once - at Macy's. Which I'm glad happened because my mom had somehow interpreted the "workout pants" on my Christmas list as any kind of pants with spandex (pocketed, wool, splatter painted, etc.) and I was able to dash in and end the confusion before she purchased something really weirdo. "Look for these brands mom... Nike." What? Gotta rep Oregon.

This afternoon of being good consumers reminded me that I desperately needed to write this post. I had been wanting to write about gifts-ideas ever since I saw the amazing preview of "Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things" where people in the audience were hugging and bawling their eyes out and carrying on in a really entertaining way, but then I got super busy and it never happened. Till now.

Well, this is a guide you can use next year. Sorry peeps, you have less than 24 hours to get this done and at this point I'm afraid you're screwed. Or just go to Target... they have something for everyone.

Without further ado about nothing, I give you my shopping list inspired by real-life family members:

1. Beer mugs/glasses for my little brother, who just happens to be 21 and likes to drink lots of beer. Thankfully, he's moved on from the days of being the disheveled guy standing in the front lawn of a house party getting soaked by the sprinkler and having beer cans thrown at him (all in good fun)... He now has a serious girlfriend, two jobs, is getting closer to college graduation and can handle drinking with few party fouls. Red plastic cups can now be reserved for beer pong and flip cup...

Left: Immature brother who likes to play Pong all day. Right: Mature brother who likes to hang out with his sister and grandfather.

2. A subscription to Hobby Farms Magazine for my mom. If you knew my mom and her situation currently, you'd freak out that this magazine exists, because it is the perrrrrfect gift for her. Farming is her hobby, literally. I haven't mentioned this yet, but this whole time I've been sitting here typing away in the kitchen of my mom's farmhouse in Chappell Hill, Texas. What once was a weekend place has become her full-time residence, and she is obsessed. And lemme me tell ya, she ain't no Farmville farmer - she's a real farmer, yo! She has a sizable piece of property with a horse, a dog, a cat and lots of cows. Whenever she calls me in an incredibly good mood, I know that "a new calf was born today!!!!" is about to come out of her mouth. And then she always tells me what she named it, and they are pretty awesome names. My favorite name that she ever came up with is "Friendly." Friendly the cow. There's also Purdy, Pedro, J.D. (...who knows where J.D. came from. Is it like, short for the cow's real name?), and I just named "Kima" yesterday - after the ass-kicking lesbian cop on The Wire. (Best. Show. Ever.) My mom said she's a badass little calf, so it totally works...

3. A picnic blanket for my sister, who appreciates all things "classic," like a picnic in the park on a sunny spring day. Probably spawning from our back-to-school shopping at The Gap in elementary school, she has always leaned towards the traditional. For example.... doll collection? Check. A fan of Charles Dickens? Check. Four year attendance at an East Coast private university? Check. Favorite food, chocolate chip cookies? Check. Monet print displayed in her apartment (in Houston's Museum District)? Check. You see what I'm saying? Plus, like I mentioned earlier it's 70 degrees in Houston right now, so she can use the thing year round!

4. A unique piece of art for my in-college, very cool, very smart and very creative cousin who has her very first apartment. Even though this may sound a little Regretsy to you, she is always thinking outside the box: she once took home the lobster tail from her dinner at a seafood restaurant so she could turn it into a pin to wear. Most likely her mom dumped it in the trash as soon as they got home, but her creative ambition alone illustrates what kind of personality she is. ****Okay, my brother just informed me that she actually did turn it into a necklace and wore it until it got moldy... Wow. Obviously she deserves, and would appreciate, art for Christmas. Right, Jenn?

5. Food somethings for the grandparents. Since they live in Houston and I live in a far-away mystical place called Oregon that they've never been to before, they get super excited when I bring them Oregon-made wildflower honey and marionberry jam. Marionberries???? What are those?! A magical edible berry that's grown far far away from Texas! And they happen to taste a lot like blackberries. Wait, they are blackberries? Oh. My bad.

It's the thought that counts, right?


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Flutter: Portland, OR

Super stoked on this place in NE Portland.
I want to buy everything.

Vintage Christmas... You're Such a Cutie

Today I went antiquing - one of my absolute favorite things in the world. My friend Hannah is visiting from Grants Pass and we had made a pact that during her stay we'd do some of the random things that sound really fun to us but nobody else. Those things included but weren't limited to: attempting to stalk the Blazers after their home games (supposedly they like to go to the Cheesecake Factory), a one-on-one tutorial about Twitter and tweeting (I just joined and can't seem to grasp the concept of a hashtag), and hitting up most of the antique stores around town. Today we did the antiquing. We went to Monticello in east Portland and I was absolutely blown away by all of the beautiful and fun vintage Christmas decorations. It gave me this incredible nostalgia for the past, like the same feeling you get while watching It's a Wonderful Life - minus the sobs of happiness "every time a bell rings." After looking at probably 3,000 wonderful things, I ended up buying an apothecary jar filled with little pine cones and gold tinsel and little Christmas miracles, and a piƱata. Yeah, I like things from Mexico. I'll put a Santa hat on it.

This excursion reminded me of the way vintage and antique-inspired Christmas decor can add so much to your home - since it's such a sentimental season to begin with. It can also be a rather inexpensive option for decorating if you hit up estate sales and flea markets. Below are some of the photos I snapped with my phone while shopping at Monticello. One thing to note: bottle brush trees and wreaths are very "in."

bottle brush wreaths and trees

vintage cardboard signs

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Decorations. Simple Enough?

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it's now TIME TO DECORATE FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!! I admit, I'm a little bit behind with that, and this post. Lo siento.

So, not to be a downer all of a sudden, but I gotta be honest with you guys. I was a little overwhelmed over this subject because I thought I was gonna be stuck eating off McDonald's dollar menu and drinking unfiltered tap water if I did all of the decorating I really wanted to do. In the classic Patrick Verona way of calculating:

Well, let's think about this... I get a tree, that's 40 bucks. I get ornaments, that's 73. And I'll want some fake snow, alright? So, we're looking at 150 bucks.

This isn't a negotiation. Take it or leave it trailer park.
50 bucks and we got a deal, Fabio.

It gives me anxiety. I like to go big and dramatic most of the time and that means my bank's gonna get broke! I can't help it, I just have these incredible visions of what my home could look like. I'm guilty of getting way too impulsive in places like Michael's and Pier 1, and it's x 20 this time of year. (By the way, Michael's ALWAYS has sales going on. GO THERE. Get a new hobby. I swear, every time I stroll the aisles everything appears to be half off. And then when I buy my half-off tubes of acrylic, fake hydrangeas and friendship bracelet string, I get a coupon with my receipt for another 50% off my next purchase. Every single time. I really really hope they aren't secretly going out of business, because then I wouldn't be able to buy supplies for random crafts that I completely intend on doing but then just leave laying around the house in the plastic bags they were carried out of the store in. Pretty sure my roommates would miss that.)

I tried to go the inexpensive route and just buy stuff at the Dollar Tree, but once I saw their "holiday decor" I couldn't do it. I'm a snob, whatever. Halloween, yes, that's all the house was decorated in ... but Christmas? Sorry, I just can't bring myself to buy a ceramic nativity scene with baby Jesus's eyes painted on a little too far to the left. It's creepy and sacrilegious.

Well, I'm gonna cut to the chase. This problem has been solved by an Apartment Therapy post. (I am completely convinced, this is the best blog ever! Besides 2birds1blog, of course.)

It's just a handful of photos, illustrating "a smattering of subtle little touches of Christmas here and there, in every room of the house." I am SO inspired and SO happy. Why did I think I needed to go so big with decorations? Oh I know - I'm a Texan.

But apparently I am not that connected to my roots, because my mind has been completely changed by this house. It's so simple and looks so good. But - simple is key... for this to work, I'm gonna have to make sure the house is clutter-free. Maybe this means all of those Michael's bags scattered around the house will finally be dealt with.

I'll be posting photos of my own little holiday touches very, very soon.

And here is soon:

A little silver and colorful touches added to the bookshelf (disregard the fact that i barely know how to work the settings on my camera and these photos ended up looking like photocopied newspaper clippings)

and a little more formal on the mantel in the living room...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Love This Look - Photos

Gotta share this dining room in an amazing house featured in
Apartment Therapy's House Tours...

the picture wall... the knife collection...
those chairs!!

Hope you dig it like I do.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Neat freaks, I envy you.

Cleaning. Bleh.

I am not a fan, I'll be honest. My mom can attest to that. Every since I was a little kid, my bedroom has been on the messy side more often than not. And even now, it's a good day if my room has a clear path from the bed to the door. And an even better night. Getting up at 3am in the dark and tripping over a giant exercise ball or stepping on the pointy heel of a boot is not fun at all.

I don't know why I don't stay on top of this better, because when it comes down to it, there are few things as satisfying as having a clean room when you go to sleep at night. Ahh the feng shui of it all. My main problem is too many clothes. I know I'm not alone in this (girls). Clean, dirty, still in the yellow plastic Forever 21 bag, on the floor, on the bed, hanging to dry on drawer knobs and chair backs... it takes over. Ugh. Even the Jersey Shore kids have it under control better than I do.

A made-up bed without piles of clothes on top: straight up dreamy

Well, I've made the decision to try really, really hard to improve. I'm 26, I should have this. So, like most things people are bad at and want to get better at - I need practice. I need to practice every night with a plan of action. Well, thank god for Google... because I found one: the "15 Minute Bedroom Cleanup" from's Housekeeping section. My goal is to get my time down to 12 minutes and 15 seconds. And the best part is that it tells me that the difficulty level is "easy." Phew. (Which reminds me of one of my guy friend's favorite quotes and now one of my favorite quotes: "How good it feels to do nothing and then rest afterward." In the same line of thought, this friend and I have an ongoing sleep competition - so far I hold the record - 17 hours without waking up for more than a rollover. What can I say, I have a comfy bed. Which is much comfier in a clean room ... back on track!)

This 15 Minute Bedroom Cleanup proposes some simple steps to a clean room and I'm going to condense it into something even simpler:

1) Grab all dirty clothing and put it in a hamper or laundry bag. Okay, easy and kind of fun. I'll be showin off my Ray Allen skillz.

2) Grab all clean clothes and re-hang or fold and put away. Here's the doozy.

3) Grab all trash and put in the trash can. Easy. Like a cool down after dealing with all of those clothes.

4) Make the bed. I totally agree with this. It makes a huge difference because it will look like a pretty cloud in the middle of your room. At least mine does. (down comforter...)

5) Straighten surfaces. Okay, this one needs a little more direction. "If it has been a long time since you have cleaned in here, you may have large accumulations of your stuff that belongs in your room but is not in its proper place. Take a brief survey of this "stuff". If in a minute or less you can put it all away, do so. If not place it all in a container so that you can go through it and organize it later." Ahh okay. Sounds good to me.

6) Sweep/Vacuum. This sounds a little ambitious for a daily clean up aka this part probably won't happen, but whatever.

And.... dunzo! I'll let you guys know how this works out.... starting tomorrow. I'm tired and diving for the bed!

**** After seeing this post my darling Aunt Bongie (that's pronounced Bon-jee, short for Bondurant, it's French... my family's cool like that) emailed me some more ideas to make the cleaning process a little more fun. And she's so should be as fun as it can possibly be, cuz like I said, by itself it's Bleh. Here are her suggestions:

"Before work make up your bed, it only takes a few seconds then when you come home your room looks great and you're in a good mood just entering. Also, buy yourself some flowers that always makes me happier, just having them in the room. Another thing to try is when really having to clean the place put on your fav music even if on your ipod so you don't bother the roomies and light your fav candle. It makes cleaning much more fun and I actually like cleaning now, well except maybe the toilets.... you just can't make that good!!!"

Thanks Bonj! :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

They're gonna be big in 2011, just wait...

When I had the Southern-style dinner party last weekend, one of my friends gave me the cutest hostess gift ever: an apron from Anthropologie. I am obsessed. How creative and thoughtful, right? If you come over to my house and I'm wearing it - don't assume I'm baking anything. I may have it on just cuz. It's that awesome. Anyway, I've paraded around in it a bit and come to a conclusion: aprons need to make a major comeback. But in order for them to be relevant to the modern young-person's lifestyle, I think the reasons to wear one should be a little bit more "outside of the box." Because seriously, does Rachael Ray even wear one? So, after some careful thought I've figured it out.

An (adorable) apron would be totally appropriate if:
  • You are making anything that relies on a recipe. But that's a no-brainer.
  • You are heating up leftovers in the microwave, and stirring is involved.
  • You're totally into a guy that's coming over and know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Guys are visual creatures.
  • You are writing out a grocery list and need to get "in the zone."
  • You are in charge of making drinks when your friends come over to pre-funk.
  • You've had too much to drink while pre-funking, and are at risk of spilling all over your "going-out" outfit. Can't let that happen.
  • You're a little too obsessed with Mad Men.
  • You just feel like it, cuz you don't really like what you're wearing today anyway.

So, would you ever rock an apron?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You know I like my chicken fried...

Back when I was in middle school, pepperoni pizza from the school cafeteria was one hot item. However, this pizza had one major issue: pools of orange, salty grease always floated on top. Some kids grabbed stacks and stacks of napkins and laid them on top of their pizza slices to soak it all up before they took their first bite. Well, not me. I reveled in it. Sick, I realize now.

Growing up in Texas, in a family that enjoys eating well (my dad ate his cornflakes with half & half, not milk) you just kinda have to go BIG. You learn that when you get barbecue, you order a chopped beef sandwich, not the sliced beef, because it's fattier and therefore tastes better. PB&Js are best when made on toasted, and generously buttered, sourdough bread and when you make a late-night trip to Whataburger, you wouldn't be a true Texan if you didn't get it Whatasized. Best of all, my favorite Mexican restaurant serves a cup of melted garlic lime butter with their fajitas - and it's normal to simply dip your taco into it before each bite. I swear. So naturally, my favorite dinner that my mom cooked growing up was crispy fried chicken and gravy.

And that brings me to the point of this post. I wanted to share some of the culinary goodness that I grew up loving so much with some friends, so this past weekend I had a low-key themed dinner party, a "Sunday Best Fried Chicken Dinner." Maybe it’s better described as a get-together, since “party” is kind of a stretch for a Sunday night. Anyway, I wanted all of my Portland friends to enjoy some homemade, good Southern cookin' that would make Paula Deen, and especially my mom, proud.

The menu: Fried chicken tenders, cream gravy, mashed potatoes, yellow squash casserole, biscuits, poppyseed pecan green salad, and chocolate pecan pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Oh, and the classic cheese straw as an appetizer.

To take it a little further in the theme direction I encouraged my friends to dress as southern gentlemen and ladies: large floral prints, pastels, khakis, braided belts, etc.
In an ideal world I would not have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and actually remembered the background Pandora: Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater, The Soggy Bottom Boys, etc. I also would have sprung for alcohol and made the Scarlet O'Hara and the Rhett Butler southern cocktails. But I was cheap in this instance and just served iced tea. But I did serve sugar, lemon and fresh mint on the side - that shows some attention to detail, right?

Anyway ... the night went well and everyone enjoyed the food - or at least they said they did. One of the bigger surprise hits was the southern-style yellow squash casserole, where you can find the recipe here.

So basically...I suggest you steal my idea for this dinner party, and take it further and better than i did. Think azalea centerpieces. So southern. Make me proud y'all.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Soup, Soup ba-doop, Soup ba-doop, Soup ba-doop ba-doop ba-doop

The weather is getting cold, the leaves are changing, and nothing sounds better than hot soup. Mmmm, soup. And lots of blankets. And a really good book. And Uggs - real ones, not the knock-offs. And a wood-burning fire. And a golden retriever laying in front of it. And Christmas. Wait... not yet.

My point is, it's the appropriate time to share something with y'all: A tried and true recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup from my high school Home Ec class. It is bomb.

Chicken Tortilla Soup ~ from Texas (so it's totally legit!)

(Makes about 4-5 servings)

2 cans chicken
2 cans beef broth
1 lb boneless chicken
breast, boiled and pulled apart into pieces
1 can of sliced tomatoes, with juice
1 yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
5-10 jarred jalapeno slices, with some juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp + 2 tsp chili powder
1 1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
few leaves of cilantro (optional)
mozzarella cheese
tortilla chips

1 large pot that you would use to cook chili in... (stock pot, maybe?)

Put oil in the bottom of the pot, then set on the stove at medium heat. Add onions, jalapenos and garlic, stirring occasionally until onions are browned. Add chicken
broth and beef broth. Add canned tomatoes and chicken. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Raise heat until soup is hot - steaming but not boiling. Add more chili powder/cumin/jalapeno juice to make to your liking of spiciness.
Put tortilla
chips in the bottom of the soup bowl~ pour soup into bowl and put mozzarella cheese, cilantro and avocado on the top.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Top 5 Coffee Table Books, or Behind-The-Toilet Books, whatever

I am a huge fan of "coffee table books." The ones I enjoy most are original, funny and simple.

Here are some of my faves:

1. Graham Roumieu's In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot. Amazing. Finally the truth: the story of Bigfoot, from Bigfoot's perspective. Turns out he's much more vulnerable and relatable than you ever imagined.

"If you going to chase, please no spray with holy water. Ok. Listen. I not know where all you morons come from but holy water no hurt Bigfoot. Garlic and Crucifix also no. Fire, Pitchfork, Silver Bullet OK. Kryptonite do nothing. It not even real."

2. I Like You ~ Hospitality Under The Influence by Amy Sedaris. A tongue-in-cheek guide to entertaining by the insanely brilliant sister of David Sedaris. Enough said.

"The Guest List: The moment someone says, 'Hey everyone, listen to the words in this song,' your party is over. This is why the guest list is the most important aspect to a successful party ... If the party is going to be made up of mostly young pretty girls, then you might want to invite some old men. Nothing makes them feel more alive... If a guest you invite is a shy-type, balance that with a show-off, because all show-offs need an audience (we couldn't do it without you)."

3. This Book Will Change Your Life by Benrik. This clever Urban Outfittersesque book sparked the creation of way too many blogs dedicated to trying out its "365 Daily Instructions For Hysterical Living." I didn't actually try any of them after buying the book (like most people, I have more important things I think I should be doing), but I guess a lot of people have.

"Day 28: Choose your final meal on death row and make it."

4. Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz's The Daring Book for Girls. A gem of a book - it's simply adorable. Think of the classic childhood slumber party movie Now and Then, but in a useful book form. This book is the sentimental encyclopedia on everything from Caring for Your Softball Glove to Putting Your Hair Up With a Pencil to Telling Ghost Stories. Two words: warm & fuzzy. Am I revealing my super dorkiness for loving this book so much? Maybe. Or was that only insider information until I started a blog based on the interests of Martha Stewart?

A sampling of the over-100 subjects in the Table of Contents: Rules of the Game: Basketball, Pressing Flowers, Princesses Today, Knots and Stitches, Snowballs, Vinegar and Baking Soda, Joan of Arc, How To Be a Spy, Sleep Outs, Reading Tide Charts, Boys, Greek and Latin Root Words.

5. He's Just Not That Into You. Okay, okay, before you write me and my recommendations off completely - consider this: one of your guests may seriously need to realize! You'd be doing them a true favor by leaving this out for a little looksie. JK ... every girl has already read this or seen the movie. It's so 5 years ago. But, some people still need reminders. Myself included. Another reason to have it in easy reach: guys are totally entertained by this book. For reaaaal.

a random night back in college...

Photo sources: 1, 2, 3, 4