Holiday Prep – Part 1

Let’s face it: We will forever be the family buying the sad Charlie Brown tree on December 23rd, but this year I’m trying.

Winter comes early here and lasts forever, so I wanted something pieces that could bridge November to March, not just the unofficial holiday season.

I went with two themes: cozy and buffalo plaid.

I share this perfectly imperfect shot to showcase the overall effect, but wow! Painful reality. Two kids and a dog seem to continuously rearrange my pillow fort, push apart the sofa sections and make the blinds quite janky.

These cuties are from Crate and Barrel:

The plaid pillow covers are straight off of Amazon. I slipped them over pillows we already had.

Ditto the plaid throw; it’s Amazon:

We have six fireplaces but I don’t decorate all of them. Here’s the start of the mantle in the main floor family room:

Please excuse the tape. This was a trial. That failed. Re-taping subsequently commenced.

I found these two cute garlands at Michael’s, a craft store that overwhelms me and I try to avoid. There was some weird promotion going on and they gave me the nutcracker for free at the checkout.

The candle is from Crate and Barrel and smells wonderfully like winter. I bought several to (hopefully) last until spring.

The last thing I did, for now:

I bought two faux boxwood wreaths at Target last year and I swap out the bows depending on the season. For someone who is generally lazy, this has been a great decorating hack.

But I’m not done! There is more coming. Will keep posting the updates.

Front Entrace 2015, a.k.a. My Urban Farming Experiment

Last summer I got a late start in sprucing up the front entrance of Fancy Pants Ranch.

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I think this photo was from July.

This summer I decided to be ahead of the curve.

With some valuable assistance from my Mom and $175 at the gardening center, we hit Memorial Day weekend running.

Fancying ourselves as urban farmers, we added some crops this year in the form of a green bean plant, a tomato plant, two strawberry plants, a salad container, and lots of herbs.


Total yield thus far:

  • One salad (picked and consumed the day the planter was purchased, subsequently all lettuces eaten by chipmunks)
  • Three green beans
  • Two strawberries
  • Zero tomatoes (although that plant has taken off like crazy and I am still keeping my fingers crossed)

But the best purchases of all were two solar powered butterfly lights.

Here they are in the day:


Here’s a professional shot at night:


Photo from HomeLava

They change colors every few seconds, which the kids love to watch.

I never really thought about decorating for night until now, but these colorful lights add so much.


Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Heath Ceramics, Part Deux

Yesterday I posted about visiting the Heath Ceramics outpost in the Ferry Building during a recent trip to San Francisco.

Even though the storefront is small, I spent a looooong the browsing.

The looking continued when I got home.

I love that everything Heath sells manages to be both rustic in materials and modern in design.

This picnic set would be such a wonderful wedding gift. I love that it comes with a Faribault recycled wool blanket!


On a smaller scale, this mini serving set would also suffice:


This tray is spectacular! It’s currently out of stock, though, which is probably a good thing.


This unique tea candle set would make a perfect hostess gift:


One more tray:


And I am so, so susceptible to things like this and this:


Design Advice From Jonathan Adler

I adore everything Jonathan Adler.

Like this glam brass orb:



I’m culling these tips from a recent interview with Mr. Adler, but they’re worth passing on.

First up: How to add glitz at home

I think a room is like an outfit. It all needs a bit of gold to crank up the glamour. A little glitz is good for the soul.

On candlelight:

Candlelight is every fun-lover’s best friend. It makes everything look a little more glamorous than they really might be. You don’t need to have scented candles going all the time, but you do need to entertain with an abundance of candles.

Regarding home as sanctuary:

Every time you open your front door, you should breathe a sigh of relief. It should feel like you feel when you hear your favorite song on the radio.

I love you, Jonathan Adler!

P.S. Adler’s spouse, Simon Noonan, wrote a best-selling book called “Eccentric Glamour.” The title alone makes me want to buy it.

Bedroom Re-fresh, Part Deux

Yesterday I posted that I wanted to bring some spring into our (somewhat) dreary master bedroom.

To re-cap, the room is painted a dark charcoal gray and I wanted to add some bright yellow accents.

Initially I tried to find a yellow throw and shams, but I quickly realized I was delusional to think that this Toms collaboration striped throw would be available at our local Target store.


Apparently it sold out everywhere, right away. In November.

What I *did* find, though, was a set of yellow jersey sheets on sale for $20.

(The online price still says $40.99, but they were half off in store).

Here’s what they look like:


End result:

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The Tiara Pillow is from the W Hotel Store and was a witty Christmas gift from Spouse to me. He knows me well!

Less than a minute after trying to style and shoot these photos, here’s what happened:

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Trixie (5) decided the bed was eminently jump-able.

P.S. Here’s a picture of the small reading area near the bed. I usually sit there and sip wine, read magazines and “supervise” the kids while they take showers at night.





Bedroom Re-fresh

With winter in full swing, I decided I wanted to bring some color and brightness into our master bedroom, which is painted a deep, matte charcoal gray.


Similar color from Lowe’s website

For Christmas we received a new duvet set from Spouse’s parents:


Photo from

The color is a lot lighter in person.

We have an oversized print of this Slim Aarons photo hanging in our room that also gave me inspiration:


Yellow seemed like a good color to pull out of this and use as an accent.

Placing a throw across a bed is a great way to create a hotel style look. Here’s the idea:


I want to find a throw with yellow in it, and I hope our local Target still has one of these in stock:



A few extra pillows and bright bowl or tray might be all I need to bring in some spring.




Fresh Entry

A few days ago, I posted about how much I loved lavender and wanted to get a plant of my own.

After striking out at the first garden store I visited, I hit the jackpot at Home Depot.

They had two varieties, “Munstead” and “English Lavender.” I got both (on sale! Hooray for the July clearance on plants!), plus some peppermint.

MGM and Trixie were with me, and they each got to pick out a flowering plant.

New plants meant we needed a few extra pots, since we’re woefully short on gardening supplies at Fancy Pants Ranch.

We eventually got them situated and placed them near the front door of our house.


The new plants made the doormat seem kind of dingy, so the next day I got this one at Target:

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(My toes strategically placed for artistic effect). 

Seriously, this was only $12.99 and made a big impact! Note to self: buy a new doormat more often, like before the old one disintegrates.

I also went back to Garden Store #1 and got one more big glazed pot for the yellow flowers that MGM selected.

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Here’s the end result:

photo 1-7


And a close up of our turtle family:

photo 4-3

Come on in!






Mason Jar Candle Holders

Recently I saw this oversized Mason jar candle holder online, but it was sold out from the store by the time I got there to check it out.


It holds a large three-wick candle, and I thought this would be perfect for a casual outdoor gathering, provided that spring and summer eventually show up.

Even though I struck out with the above, I found some cool DIY projects that are even better.

Check out these glittered jars from Cakerypapery:


So simple to make! Here’s how.

A floating candle version:


Ok, here’s the coolest one of them all, glow-in-the-dark jars:


Will someone please make me a set of these? Here are the instructions.

P.S. 100 other great ways to use Mason jars





Art for the Home

Full disclosure: I don’t really know anything about art.

But I’d like to.

Owning real art seems like such a grown-up thing to do. It says that you’re past the stage of hand-me-down castoffs and IKEA furniture. You no longer own a futon. You own art.

Two years ago, I bit the bullet and hired a decorator to help spruce up Fancy Pants Ranch.

We bought our house six years ago without too much forethought. We were moving to our city. We needed a house. This one was available. It was new. It was nice enough. The location was great. We moved in.

Fast forward: as time went on, the mild Builder Beige paint on most of the walls didn’t suit our style. It was time for a change, and while I definitely know what I like, I don’t have the time or the eye to really put it all together. Hence, hiring a professional.

Working with a decorator turned out to be a great experience. She had access to a lot of great vendors that sell only to the design trade, meaning that we got some unique pieces that you don’t see everywhere.

She also encouraged us to add art to the walls. One big mistake I’d made in the past was buying art that was too small.

Here’s an example of a prior mistake:


I bought these two 8″ x 10″ prints from 20 x 200, a project that started in 2007 to produce affordable, yet cool, art. Prices now start at $24 for a small print. The two photos above show the end of a decadent party (my younger self very much relates to a stiletto smashed into a plate of cake) and two leopard-clad women (one with a young hand, one with a wrinkled, older one; I felt like this was the younger me connecting to an older me).

Now I regret getting such small prints. I still love them and want them displayed, but they’re hard to see and make so little visual impact. Right now they hang on a short wall in the kitchen where it transitions to the dining room. The only thing that makes them sort-of work is that I have two to hang together as a pair.

There is a short but helpful interview about choosing art for your home in the April issue of Allure magazine. The interviewee is Maria Gabriela Brito, an art collector and designer in NYC. Her words:

Go Big. The bigger the piece, the more it will transform a room. People tend to choose art that is too small for the space. Take your cue from the furniture your art will hang near. If your sofa is 70 inches long, go for a piece that’s 50 inches; if the couch is 96 inches long, try something that measures 80 inches. If you can’t find one really big image you like, you can cheat by placing two side by side. The bottom of the frame should sit six to ten inches above the top of the furniture, and the closer the top edge is to the ceiling, the higher your ceilings will look.

Here’s a slightly better example of scale from Fancy Pants Ranch:

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This abstract black and white print is narrow but almost six feet tall. It makes a big impact on a short wall in the family room (wall paint is a dark charcoal gray, which repeats in the dining room. Other walls are painted light gray, bright fuchsia – yes! – and Orange Crush orange).

We also went in a different direction for a wall in the dining room, using sculptural elements.


The scale is hard to interpret, but the bowls range in size from 10 to 20 inches. Together they take up most of a wall and brighten up a space that otherwise can be dark.

A final piece of advice from Maria Gabriela Brito:

Before you automatically hang a new piece in living room, think about your entire house. Instead of the predictable console and mirror in a foyer, imagine a huge, vibrant print there. I especially love to incorporate smaller pieces of art in unexpected places, like a bathroom or kitchen.

Me, too! Great tips.