Monday, November 30, 2009

The Tree

Christmas spirit time!  Duncan Fuller is ready to begin humming holiday tunes, sip on egg nog and deck the halls!  I think we all officially have our trees now.  On my way home from work today I stopped by the Ho Ho Ho stand on Woodward.  Let the holiday trimming commence!

Thanksgiving Table


This Thanksgiving was wonderful in so many ways.  The dinner was pretty flawless (suprise!) and also delicious.  Everyone was so helpful that I almost did not feel like I had enough to do!  All the items in the centerpiece came from the Eastern Market trip.  I was very happy with how everything looked.   The turkey was also delish.  Not as much to making a turkey as I had anticipated.  All you really have to do is babysit it... that I could handle. We stayed up until the wee hours playing a ruthless game of trivial pursuit pop culture. The weekend was also filled catching up with friends and the Gobble Wobble charity event.  After 2 months of planning, I think we can call it a huge success.  400 young people showed up to dance and socialize all while supporting the CATCH charity.  

Overall, what a success!  Now, onto Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Day Prep!

I thought I would share a few pictures from the Eastern Market last weekend.  I really didn't do the best job capturing all the beautiful produce and flowers, but I think the "atmosphere" shots are worth sharing too!  It was so fun to browse all the goods, see all the cute families and taste test.  Especially taste test.  Especially these crepes. Delish.  I did buy some cool things for the Thanksgiving table.  I will be sure to post the final product!  


Friday, November 20, 2009

Restoration Ideation

My friend, Avery, sent me this New York Times article yesterday on a country estate in the Hudson Valley.  I love a little piece of American history, so I googled the Montgomery Place to get some more information.  The Hudson River Valley website briefly describes the home as being nestled on 434 acres and consistently lived in by the same family for 180 years, before being donated, in 1986, to the Historic Hudson Valley association which was started by J. D. Rockefeller. 

The home, built in 1804 by a widow, Janet Livingston Montgomery, of a general in the American Revolution.  This house epitomizes the Romantic design concept.  A fully intact estate, the home is still is furnished with the original furnishing, decorated with the authentic carpets and wallpapers and even accessorized with the family's silver and china.  Not to mention, the grounds still host orchards that produce fruits. Basically, I think this place sounds like a time vault.  The house and grounds were redesigned in 1840 by Alexander Jackson Davis, who is said to be the most successful and influential architects of his generation.  With government and university buildings in his repertoire, he really made American more familiar with Classical Revival and building a harmonious relationship between nature and the indoors.  In fact, the first outdoor room in American is at Montgomery Place.  With his creation of living porches and scenic trails to observe landscape, he really directed people to partake in nature and take advantage of the inspiring surroundings.

I think it also needs to  be noted that the Hudson Valley region has a wealth of history.  From being a major battle ground during the American Revolution to the land that America's industrialists called home (Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Roosevelt to name a few), to now a battleground of American preservation, this area has truly seen the transformation of American life and culture.

It was sad for me to read the NYT article discussing how the Historic Hudson Valley board was rumored to be discussing sales of irreplaceable assets to cover the financial hits on their endowment (70 million down to 49 mil).  Offers are coming in from generous benefactors to pay to keep the home open.  Offers which have been rejected.  Not to mention, there is a $15 million digital archive on the horizon.  While it stated that the cash generated from the sales of these homes would not be put twoards the new construction, it kinda makes one wonder. This snazzy new center will give virtual tours of the historic Hudson Valley homes.  REALLY?  Seriously. Is this what our world is coming to?  Are we going to breed generations of children and people who would rather go check out a digital tour than to walk into homes and see the architecture, fabrics and history first hand.  Not to vent, but at this rate I think we are going to become lazy, digital zombies.  This center may be a nice way to supplement a walking tour, but I am a tad skeptical when one statement in this article states that the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society is thinking of "selling its historic home and handing over its archives to the New York Public Library, keeping only a digitized version of them..." he then concluded his statements with, "Historic house museums are in the same place as classical music orchestras".  Great a world of McMansions and Kayne. Even more disheartening are the March meeting minutes that the NYT obtained that states, “Mr. Herbert E. Nass asked whether we could sell Montgomery Place in parts, and whether doing so could yield a better price over time".  Show him the money!

There has to be a better solution.  Why don't we walk our children through parts of history, have them experience the tangible and physical aspects, have them step back and take a long panoramic view so they can have some insight into the bigger picture? I don't think plopping kids down in front of a computer screen is going to have the same effect as having them walk through the intimidating halls of some of the finest architecture in America.  I don't think a computer can create the grass they will feel under their feet as they walk the scenic paths through towering trees, the birds chirping or the breeze rustling the leaves.  A computer cannot recreate atmopshere nor can it stimulate the same sort of stirring excitment as seeing the world tangibly and in the present.  We have to give them the opportunity to be inspired.  Everyone deserves that.

Sorry for venting, but sometimes I get a little discouraged with the direction our society is heading.  Hopefully we can keep and treasure unique spaces such as Montgomery Place.  In doing so we can only build an appreciation of the American Legacy. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanksgiving Inspiration

This year I have decided to host Thanksgiving.  A bit of a risk, if I do say so myself.  I don't know if I was energized by my new status as a first time homeowner or the misguided by  illusions of our house filled with family, food and laughter, but this might be one of those instances where I have bitten off more than I can chew.  Don't get me wrong, I am very excited about creating an ambience and setting that will hopefully make this a memorable Thanksgiving (and I mean memorable in a fond way... not memorable in a way where Thanksgiving dinner results in emergency take-out).

With one oven the cooking may be a bit of a challenge, but I think I am going to go the route of the pot-luck-style holiday. Everyone can bring their favorite dish (one I am sure has been perfected over many years of holiday dinners). A friend of mine did mention to me that I should "test how my oven cooks"... hmpf. You mean warming up Trader Joe's taquitos isn't a sufficient test?

Now the part I can get really excited about. The decor! I have decided that I am going to move all of the furniture out of the living room and set up our dining room table. We have built in bookcases and a wood burning fireplace in the living room which will provide a very warm and cozy backdrop for the family feast. I believe that having everyone around the same table for a holiday dinner is a must and ambiance aside, this is the only place in our house where this can be achieved. While the below pictures are obviously more grandoise than my living room, they got me thinking how amazing and intimate it can be to eat in other rooms of the home. I would love a meal surrounded by all those books or seated next to that roaring fire.

 Images above via Elle Decor 
To get some inspiration for my table setting I decided to go to the most well known domestic goddess, Martha Stewart (some can enter a groan of distaste here).


I love the use of fruit and nuts here... all very natural and not overdone.

Okay, this may have been in the Christmas entertaining file...but I do love the pears...

I like the use of color here.  It doesn't scream harvest or Thanksgiving or Turkey.  It is organic, simple and elegantly fall.

This is a little chilly... but I think gold spray paint makes anything better. I will definitely be adding a little glitz to my table.

I have seen this before and I love it everytime. Maybe I will glitz up the pear name tag? Hmm....

Thank You, Martha

Sorry. A bit morbid. But pheasants are beautiful birds.  Scott goes on a pheasant "hunt" every Thanksgiving.  I'll see if during his man time he can find a few minutes to steal me some feathers for the centerpiece.
Image Via Garden & Gun

This is gorgeous. Delightful. Maybe if I took some of those pink tones and made them a little bit more orange and amber it could work.  I love the berries tucked in there.  I am going to use different materials to try to get that textural effect.
Image Via Southern Accents

Since having 15 people means a long table, I am thinking of doing a long "trough" and fill it with flowers, vegtables, berries, etc... I like this one, but I think I would make mine overflow more and not have the same order that this centerpiece exhibits.

I'm thinking this cabbage would be a nice starting point...
Image via Flickr

Alright, I will be sure to report back on all progess Thanksgiving related.  I think a visit to the farmer's market will get the festive wheels a turnin'.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Okay, so this is the beginning of the gallery wall. Stage 1. Don't worry, I won't post every addition, but thought I would document the starting point. The picture is of my grandpa diving, probably circa 1940 (right, Nani?). I don't want to mess up the facts here, but both my grandparent's are from Texas and this might be taken at the country club where they met (lifeguard meets sun bather... I think it's pretty cute). Anyway, I love items that exhibit a history... and a family history is the crème de la crème. Above the photograph are some antlers I gave to Scott for Christmas last year. He really wanted taxidermy, but I think looking at antlers is a tad less startling than having a deer staring at me while I want my nightly T.V. lineup.

So, this is the beginning. I am excited to see what treasures find themselves up there!

Gifto Recap

The entrance to the show! Duncan Fuller supplied the lights and topiaries. With a few near electrical disasters, everything came together thanks to fishing wire and many extension cords. It looked very festive!

Yep. That's my mom on the left and my future mother in law on the right. They coincidentally showed up to the Champagne Opening in almost the exact same outfit.

Duncan Fuller also used these topiaries to decorate the Kingswood portico.

My Aunt Cathy and her business partner, Carmen, have started quite the production of floral arrangements. Their holiday wreaths and centerpieces were selling like hotcakes. Low maintence and stylish... I don't think there is much more one could ask for! In addition to gift shows they do custom work and decorations for homes. If anyone is in the market, let me know and I can put you in touch!

This display belongs to Ribbons of Birmingham, MI. They had some great holiday gifts and serving pieces, along with many other distinctive gifts.

A look down one of the hallways. Some of my other favorite vendors were:
  • Embellishments from Winnetka, IL. Every year I find an awesome piece of jewelry from this store. A wide variety of styles and always unique.
  • Just Cuff Links which has the most unbelievable assortment of cuff links, honestly something for everyone
  • StyleNaturale Jewelry. Pretty and simple. And... anything endorsed by Oprah is OK in my book.
  • Pewabic Pottery. I love the history and the craftsmanship.
  • Frontier Soups. I am going to welcome the winter culinary bliss these soups will afford me!A Michigan favorite!! Cherry Republic has the best array of snacks. From jams to salsa to a variety of cherry candies this place has something for everyone's palette. Not to mention, they make fabulous holiday baskets.

I loved the local flavor of this booth. Blueberry Haven makes specialty foods that are both locally grown and produced in Michigan. I did not know that Michigan is the largest producer of blueberries in the United States! I also didn't know that blueberries could be so delicious in so many types of food! They make jams, mixes (scone, oatmeal, muffin AND pancake), trail mix, chocolate covered blueberries and super cute apparel!

Partnered in this booth was also Made Here artisan breadboards. They were so cool and would make an amazing shower or holiday gift for any taste. I loved their simplicity.

This is a look into the Kingswood dining hall which housed an amazing array of shops. The Style Shack, Thomas Pink, The Monogram Place, Caroline's Cakes, and a slew of other stores.

Good Bye, Giftorama! This year was just so fun that I am exceptionally sad to see the event come to a close, but I am also looking forward to see what the steering committee comes up with next!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Go Go to Adventures in Toys

Also, on Friday there is a wonderful event in downtown Birmingham that supports the Bottomless Toy Chest charity. BTC delivers games, activities and crafts to hospitalized pediatric cancer patients. On Friday, November 6th, begin your holiday shopping, along with appetizers and spirits, at Adventures in Toys in Birmingham and 15% of your purchase will go to this amazing cause. By donating to the Bottomless Toy Chest you are giving a child the ability to partake in their childhood while fighting the pain of cancer treatment.

250 West Maple
Birmingham, MI

A Go Go to Gifto

This weekend is the final Kingswood Giftorama. I urge you all to go and drink in the holiday spirit! After 39 years Giftorama is hanging up the ol' stockings. Successfully raising 3 million dollars for Cranbrook Schools, this will be a thoughtful and applauded farewell. There is not a better way to begin to ring in the holiday cheer than shopping for gifts while walking the hallways of such a beautiful and architecturally inspiring school.

Kingswood School Campus
Main Entrance:
39221 Woodward Ave.
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Friday night Champagne Opening
Saturday and Sunday (Click on Giftorama link above for details)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

To Gallery or Not To Gallery

I have a big, blank wall in my house that stares at me nightly. In the family room, nonetheless. I have thought and thought about what to do to make the room feel cozy and warm instead of naked and exposed. At first I kind of stayed clear of the gallery wall idea, but after seeing them time and time again I began warming up to the look. Literally. I have decided his look is the solution to warm up my family room. I am imagining the look of a collected interior. Kind of like a heritage timeline combined with a personal character outline. I do have to come to terms with the fact that this will be a work in progress, as I do not have years of collections to immediately tack up on my wall. If you were to ask if I had a multitude of museum posters (me) and golf memorabilia (Scott) we would be all set, but collegiate collections do not qualify under "collected interior". Here are a few images to kick my collecting self into high gear.

Charlotte Moss always does it right. This is her home office in her NYC town home.
Image Via New York Social Diary

Also Charlotte Moss's town home. I really like how these pieces surround the door, showing that gallery walls do not need to be limited to a big, empty wall. Also, aside from this gallery talk, I love that mirror paneled door.
Image Via New York Social Diary

I love this collection of family photographs unified by white mats and a sleek black frame. This seems to be from Domino's article on Nathan Turner's home, back in December 2008.
Image Via Flicker

I love the soft muted tones of this collection.
Designers: Kathy Bennett of J. Hartley Interiors of Mark Phelps Interiors.
Image Via Southern Accents

I love the symmetry that Bunny Williams uses in this living room.

Image Via Pfeiffer Photos

Everyone has probably seen this. But, it still excites me every time.
Designer, Thomas O'Brien. I think this is from Architectural Digest.

A female classic: The Carrie Bradshaw Look

Love this. Chock full and yet not chaotic.
Similar frames always helps to unify.

Shelves are also a nice way to go. Unfortunately, I see this being a potential disaster.
Designer, Katie Ridder. Image Via Brown Turtleneck Sweater

This is one of my all time favorites. I'll take that sofa too.
Designer, Kristen Buckingham. Elle Decor, March 2009.