Wow it’s white!

White is one of those amazing non-color colors.  The undertones that can be found in white are many. I woke up this morning to find the ground covered in a blanket of white snow.  With this inspirational palette the skys the limit!

Yellow pops when paired with white, and it makes for good safety in a blizzard.  Room inspirations abound in white.  Choosing the perfect white for your purposes is a challenge.  Finding inspiration can help you make the decision on which white is right for you.

An all white kitchen is georgeous but a lot of work to keep clean.  Consider mixing materials in the neutral family to make life easier.  Adding a touch of real wood or even feaux can help break up the theme.

White never goes out of style.

Welcome to the Floor Show

For the past four years we’ve lived in our house, the work we’ve had done has been pretty straightforward and relatively stress-free—putting in a new deck, adding proper attic access, having a new heat/air system installed. All of that changes next week, however, when my kitchen floor gets ripped out down to the joists.

About a year after we moved in I started working on the kitchen. I removed all the wallpaper (which is quite therapeutic, if I’m being honest), sanded and painted the walls, repainted the cabinets and changed out the hardware. At that point the next step was replacing the floor, which is currently a totally awful brick-patterned linoleum. In its place I wanted a black-and-white checkerboard tile. I found the tile at Home Depot and set an appointment to have everything measured and quoted. First I was told I had two layers of linoleum and the tile couldn’t be laid on top, the existing linoleum would have to come up. Fair enough. Oh, but because the house was built in 1952, there might be asbestos under at least the very first layer of flooring. Awesome.

But then the water heater exploded, more life happened and the floor project was put on the back burner until last winter, when we took out the cabinets around the tiny fridge that came with the house in order to make room for a new one that was made in this century. Here’s what we found beneath where the cabinet was.

We decided to get back to the flooring thing so we could get the kitchen finished and move on to other projects. The guy came back to take a sample to test for asbestos. And of course it came back positive. And it turns out there’s three layers of linoleum, not two. And he tells me that while they can’t remove the asbestos, we can totally remove the flooring and clean the subfloor ourselves. It’s not hard. Just use a lot of water! And we can bag it all up and leave it for the trash collector. Yes, of course you can just remove asbestos-covered flooring yourself with water and toss it out on the curb. All I could imagine was the EPA showing up at my house and turning it into the last part of E.T., when the government quarantines the house and covers it with plastic tunnels and what not.

So, fine. I got in touch with the only “asbestos abatement” company in the state. The guy comes and looks at the multi-layered floor, and tells me that the asbestos is in the mastic, which is what’s holding the first layer to the subfloor. Which means there’s asbestos in the subfloor, not to mention between the myriad layers of linoleum. And that means the entire subfloor has to come up. They’ll seal off the kitchen, cut out the entire floor (except where the cabinets are) and dispose of everything in an environmentally safe manner that does not involved piling it up by the street. The next day, my contractor, who sounds a lot like Rick Steves, comes in and puts in the new subfloor and then finally the new floor itself.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. This weekend we’ll move everything on the counters, the stupid hutch I can’t seem to get rid of, and the refrigerator into the dining room. (And then the dogs will totally freak out because there’s a fridge in the dining room) Monday morning the work begins, and the dogs will get a two-night vacation at their favorite kennel, and we’ll spend Monday night in a hotel, since by Tuesday evening we’ll at least have a plywood floor in the kitchen. Everything should be finished by midday Wednesday, and we’ll finally, hopefully, be able to move ahead with the rest of the work we’ve got planned…because now the goal is to get this place on the market next year!

Online shoppers name the best of…

Online shopping has taken the world by storm…

Below is a list from Home Textiles Today, a publication to the trade for fashion and textiles.  The media snoop that I am, I thought this was worth sharing. 

2010 Favorite 50

 Click here to read the full article from the September 2010 issue of STORES magazine.

Ranksort icon Company Headquarters
1 Amazon.com Seattle
2 Walmart.com Bentonville, Ark.
3 eBay.com San Jose, Calif.
4 BestBuy.com Richfield, Minn.
5 JCPenney.com Plano, Texas
6 Target.com Minneapolis
7 Kohls.com Menomonee Falls, Wis.
8 Google.com Mountain View, Calif.
9 Overstock.com Salt Lake City
10 Sears.com Hoffman Estates, Ill.
11 Macys.com Cincinnati
12 OldNavy.com San Francisco
13 LLBean.com Freeport, Maine
14 LandsEnd.com Dodgeville, Wis.
15 QVC.com West Chester, Pa.
16 Yahoo.com Sunnyvale, Calif.
17 WomanWithin.com Indianapolis
18 Blair.com Warren, Pa.
19 Kmart.com Hoffman Estates, Ill.
20 VictoriasSecret.com Columbus, Ohio
21 HomeDepot.com Atlanta
22 Lowes.com Mooresville, N.C.
23 Haband.com Oakland, N.J.
24 ColdwaterCreek.com Sandpoint, Idaho
25 AE.com/AmericanEagle.com Pittsburgh
26 Zappos.com Las Vegas
27 Gap.com San Francisco
28 LaneBryant.com Bensalem, Pa.
29 Newegg.com City of Industry, Calif.
30 HSN.com St. Petersburg, Fla.
31 TigerDirect.com Miami
32 MSN.com/Bing.com Redmond, Wash.
33 Cabelas.com Sidney, Neb.
34 SamsClub.com Bentonville, Ark.
35 Craigslist.org San Francisco
36 KingSizeDirect.com Indianapolis
37 Forever21.com Los Angeles
38 Express.com Columbus, Ohio
39 Costco.com Issaquah, Wash.
40 Chadwicks.com Boston
41 Roamans.com Indianapolis
42 Eastbay.com Wausau, Wis.
43 NewportNews.com New York
44 FashionBug.com Bensalem, Pa.
45 Buy.com Aliso Viejo, Calif.
46 AOL.com New York
47 Aéropostale.com New York
48 BananaRepublic.com San Francisco
49 EddieBauer.com Bellevue, Wash.
50 Nike.com Beaverton, Ore.

Shedding some light on sheds

A shed is a small building that stands alone on a property.  It is the “jack of all trades” when it comes to storage solutions.  Some folks use their sheds for work, others may stock pile them with odds and ends that don’t have a home.  We recently renovated the shed that came with our property and boy does it look fabulous!

Our shed was just about gone.  The roof had caved in three years prior to our living here and the rain water and elements had wreaked havoc on the inside and the outside walls.  We nearly lost her, but with patience and time we were able to revive a living treasure.

Continue reading

A Lamp Post

Considering it took me several months to decide which pillows to buy for the living room, it should come as no surprise that it’s taken me ages to pick out a new lamp for my home office. I admit I wasn’t nearly as dedicated to (read obsessed with) the cause as I was with the pillow search, but nevertheless it took a while to make up my mind. And also the $25 gift card to West Elm probably factored into the decision.

Anyway, a few days ago my industrial task table lamp arrived from West Elm, and after the 15 minutes it took to get it out of the box (seriously) I instantly fell in love.

West Elm industrial table lamp

First, the polished nickel is wonderfully shiny, so I was immediately mesmerized. Second, this is one tall table lamp. At almost three feet tall, it’s as graceful as it is modern thanks to the long, sleek silhouette.The lamp is adjustable at the base and the center joint of the arm, but what I really love about this part is the detailing of the knobs. Instead of the tension-style mechanism found on a lot of lamps like this, and at this price point, this lamp has knobs similar to the look of a wing nut that unscrew for precision adjusting. Did I mention this lamp was just 60 bucks?

This is the kind of lamp you want to buy in a six pack and put them everywhere. The design fits into a variety of decor styles, and the lighting is just great—it illuminates a large piece of real estate in my office, and I definitely don’t need the overhead light to work. The base has a relatively small footprint and would fit nicely on a nightstand or on an end table without taking over the entire surface. This lamp is heavy and very well made and I’m impressed with the quality after having it less than a week. I fully expect it to last for a very long time.

Southern Comfort Food

Despite having lived all of my 32 years in Arkansas, I’ve never been much of a fan of many typical Southern foods, particularly side dishes. Beans and cornbread (or worse, cornbread mushed up in a glass with buttermilk), greens, hominy, fried squash…none of these have ever held any appeal whatsoever to me, despite having it all forced upon me during my childhood. I like my greens in a salad, and I prefer my squash sauteed in some olive oil with a little garlic. Or a lot of garlic.

One Southern food I was never force-fed during my youth was grits. Grandma never made them (because Grandma only made things I loved and it all tasted good), and it wasn’t until several years ago that I first tried them, when my husband procured his mom’s recipe for our New Year’s Day feast (also the only time I’ll eat black-eyed peas, and only if my husband makes them, because they’re damn tasty). The specific recipe was for tomato grits…and yeah, I didn’t like them so much.

I wasn’t faced with the scary consistency and texture of grits until a couple of years later at a breakfast potluck at work. Garlic cheese grits casserole, to be precise. I was convinced to try them, since they did contain two of my favorite food groups, cheese and garlic. Clearly those two things would make grits edible. And oh, do they ever!

I procured the recipe and have sort of made it my own over the past few years. I like to call them Angry Grits, mainly because of how violently the grits boil on the stove top. There’s a reason you cook them with the lid on the saucepan. And also, depending on how you make them, they can be a little spicy. They’re not at all healthy, but they’re better than mac & cheese when it comes to delicious comfort food. I made some tonight, and they go quite well with crab cakes!

Here’s my version of the recipe. It fills a 2-quart casserole dish, which means plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Garlic Cheese Grits Casserole

1. Boil 4 cups of water with a teaspoon of salt. I like sea salt. Mostly because of the cute container I keep it in.

2. Stir in 1 cup of instant grits. Reduce the heat, cover and cook about 5 minutes. Stir a couple of times. (You might get splattered with rogue grits.)

3. Stir in 8 ounces of cubed plain Velveeta and 8 ounces of Mexican Velveeta. (Like I said, not at all healthy.) If you want more jalapeno-y goodness, go for more Mexican and less of the plain. Either way, mix well.

4. Add a stick of unsalted butter. (Not. At. All. Healthy.) Mix well.

5. Add garlic powder. I like it garlicky, so I mix in about a tablespoon. I also like to add in a little pepper.

6. Pour unhealthy grits concoction into casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Enjoy. But only a few times a year.

Tis the Season…for a Shiny New Grill!

So after much debate, price comparisons and checking of Consumer Reports ratings, the husband and I finally got our first grown-up grill this weekend. It’s a Char-Broil Red grill, with “Red” referring to the infrared heat the grill uses. Instead of an open flame, three stainless-steel tube burners are tucked away beneath a U-shaped trough, providing high, even heat to the cast-iron cooking surface. Not only does the infrared system save someone like me from catching their hair on fire, it also prevents meat from drying out and losing all of that juicy goodness.

Despite the horribly hot weather (100 degrees! 110 heat index!), Saturday evening we grilled a couple of inaugural rib-eyes, and they were phenomenal. The grill is easy to use, with a “SureFire” electronic ignition button and individual burner knobs with a range of temperature settings, including one for rotisserie, should we ever feel the need to purchase the electric grill rotisserie. Which we won’t. But the lower setting is ideal for fish and veggies, which can also be cooked on the side burner.

The grill heats quickly, and only uses a third of the propane regular gas grills require, and our thick, juicy steaks were perfectly cooked in about 10 minutes. Even better, it has a cleaning mode that ramps the heat up to around 700 degrees and basically disintegrates anything left on the cooking surface, rendering that grill brush completely useless!

Even after one use, I think we’re really going to like this grill. It’s not gigantic and takes up minimal space on the deck, but it’s the perfect size whether we’re cooking for just ourselves or for a few other folks. Considering the easy operation, the side burner and the storage space, not to mention the effortless clean up, I can see a lot of our cooking moving from inside the kitchen and out onto the deck, especially in the evening and when the weather cools. But for now, I’m looking forward to grilling up some fabulous burgers (I have the most excellent recipe!) over the 4th of July holiday this weekend, no matter how hot it is!

Houses From Within Tel Aviv – My Favorite Place – Hila Caspi’s Home

Houses from Within, Tel Aviv 2010 was a month ago. I was fortunate enough to get a press pass (thank you Aviva!) so I drove around Tel Aviv like a mad woman dashing from apartment to apartment. I saw 19 places in all and I’ve decided to start off the reviews with my favorite apartment from the whole weekend – Hila Caspi’s home. It’s a small flat in north Tel Aviv but I adore how she maximized the space, light and interest in the apartment.

The whole flat is around 70 square meters. The floor is cement (which was a major trend this time around – so much so that by the end of the weekend I was bored of it), the kitchen is shiny white (another trend which had me yawning by the end of the weekend). However, this was the first place I saw both in, so I was still excited while photographing the place. So why do I love it so much when it holds two pieces that I find rather tired and unoriginal? She has the most brilliant use of space for her tiny flat, some totally unexpected design elements that really got me and she has possibly the best made bed in Israel.

I’m so not kidding there. Continue reading