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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pride of Ownership


On any given day, our neighborhood maintains the steady hum of industry. No, we don't butt up against factories or major thoroughfares. But come 7am, the streets around us are buzzing with the sounds of landscapers, painters, installers and contractors. Shortly comes the smell of churning laundry and freshly cut grass, soon followed by the timed cadence of sprinklers sounding off on their morning rotation. I live for all these sights and sounds.

Many mornings, I'm out front taking it all in. I'll find any excuse to move the car, water the grass or retrieve a newspaper that failed to hit it's target just so I won't miss out. There is nothing I love more than to open the garage door early on a Saturday and see the neighborhood already at work. I'll walk out front with my morning cup, just before beginning a project, circling the front perimeter of our own home, watering, inspecting, planning, day dreaming. Nerdy? I'm unabashedly so.

Just today I worked away in my little home office on the corner, staring out at the adjacent house that got a shiny new garage door. I also watched the painters finish up the trim on the house directly across from us, while another neighbor got their quarterly visit from the local window cleaner. By late afternoon, the gardeners were hard at work on the house in back of us, trimming and cutting, blowing and watering to manicured perfection.

Finally, comes evening. The sounds of trucks and machines eventually fade out into the night, but they are quickly replaced by the friendly and familiar cackle of the evening meet and greet. As people wheel their cans out to the curb for the next day's trash pick up, it's not uncommon to see them stand out in the middle of the street and catch up on the day. They compliment one another the new flowers that line the walkway or exchange tips on lawn care. Once in a while, they motion to one another to come inside, anxious to show off some new work completed inside the house. There are evenings we stand out on the drive and participate. Other times though, it's nice to stand back and watch neighbors being neighbors and realize we're a part of something beyond our own front door. These are the days I really feel a kinship with my street mates.

Then there are the older gentlemen who have recently started a sort of walking club. I can't help but want to throw on my tweed cap and join them. Maybe someday they'll invite me along. I watched tonight I as they paraded past only to stop and admire the work on our neighbor's renovation. They eventually caught me on their second lap just to chat me up about the dining table I'm refinishing out in our garage. I'm a bit of a curiosity I think, this short little gal who moved in just two years ago, full of pride, wheeling wheelbarrows full of dirt, fixing sprinklers, painting fences, sodding the lawn, staining tabletops. I kind of like that I am.


I always think back to the lawnmower dance scene in She's Having a Baby. The humor is not lost on me. It's a tongue in cheek daydream resisting the kind of suburbia portrait I've just painted. And while growing up I always imagined myself as the Kevin Bacon character, fighting for the edge and urban pace, this evening while talking about wood grains and stains with my elder neighborhood advisers, I realized I'm exactly right where I belong.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Creative Ideas for DIY Shelving

Sometimes you just want something a little different. Or maybe there is just not enough space to carry out a tried and true method and a new solution must be explored. With both challenges in mind, I've been searching recently for some alternatives to the typical bracket + shelf system and have come across a few ideas worth consideration and sharing. I'm hoping one or more of these works out for that little side project I'm working on over at my sister's place. 


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Birthday Cake


I remember the first time I ever tasted an ice cream cake. My Dad had gone down to our local 31 Flavors, only to return home with an ice cold, white sheet cake topped with little pink flowers. He put the box down on the kitchen table and explained to his wide eyed, five year old daughter that the vanilla ice cream was actually inside. the. cake.  Oh the curiosity and wonder of it all!

I've thought about that birthday cake every year since.

I realize ice cream cakes are somewhat controversial- well, at least they are around my house. And frosting, that too is a contentious topic (for the record, I am in the less is more camp). But an ice cream cake... in my opinion, there is nothing quite like it and the fact that just the anticipation of another bite can inspire that same childlike wonder I felt so many years ago, makes it the birthday cake for me.

Luckily, Martha featured the cake of my dreams in this month's issue.


I'll be sure to follow the step by step instructions just in time to celebrate with a great big bite this weekend.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Leaning + Layered Artwork


This weekend I puttered around the house with my coffee cup, arranging and re-arranging. It was one of those lazy, rainy weekends, the kind constructed of loose plans, a full fridge and a trip or two to the movie theater, you know, if we kinda sorta felt like going. I love those weekends. There are too few of them.

"You're so funny. You are always moving stuff around."

For someone who finds true change a little unsettling, I'm certainly not one to shy away from switching things up around the house. But by Sunday afternoon, after two days of walking around in my yoga pants, pulling things off walls and shifting books and all that stuff around, I could tell The Mister was not finding the same contentment in all my activity. I think he just wants it done, even if he knows deep down that it probably will never be.


That fact is argument alone for leaning the artwork against the wall in our home rather than hanging it. Indecision makes for a lot of holes in these freshly painted walls.


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I like the ever-evolving, collected look of it anyway. It certainly gives the room dimension and even as a collection, I find that I stop and take notice of an individual piece in a way I might not have if it were otherwise hung on the wall.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bird's Eye View

I thought I'd cap the week off and update you all on a fun little side project currently in the works. I told you previously that I am working on a few rooms over at my sister's house. Well one of those belongs to a little girl very near and dear to my heart- my niece Bird. In full disclosure, Bird shares this room with her toddler sister, my niece Hailey. But as the eldest, Bird gets to call the shots for their shared space, or so says her Aunt who has designed the room especially with her bright and bold personality in mind.
Like most 7 year old girly girls, Bird is fond of purple and pink. So the plan is to custom make a pink linen headboard with brass nailhead trim and pair it with a soft lilac, ikat comforter. Other patterns like the spots, floral and stripes will be brought in as bedding and crib accents, as well as through the floor pillows for playtime and reading. I've got loads of this fabric and we are going to make it all play nicely together!

Two dressers that already reside in the room will also get a quick makeover with some paint, fresh hardware and O'verlays. One will get a fresh coat of white with the floral knobs from Anthropologie, while the other will get the full treatment with fretwork details and brass handles. I'm still undecided about the hue of orangey-red to coat that one with. But for now, I'm really liking Benjamin Moore's Bull's Eye Red (see b above).

Target is featuring this adorable Cockatiel lamp and shade as part of their Cottage Home Decor Collection in stores right now. I think that would serve as cute tongue in cheek reminder to my girl that her Aunt really wanted to design a bright and happy space for her to retreat to. When I'm resourcing and laying out plans, I always envision both she and my younger niece playing dress up in that room, reading and singing to each other surrounded by these playful patterns and hues.

Of course there will other fun and colorful art and accessories to make this happy room come to life. But I don't want to give it all away just yet... not even to Bird.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In the Works // Wood Slat Privacy Screen


Some people drift off to sleep each night, fantasizing about secluded beach vacations or a fancy new wardrobe. Me? I dream of plants. I dream of plants to fill our front yard which has sat barren, save for a lawn and concrete mow strip for the better part of a year now. I've said it before and I'll say it again now- renovating and landscaping takes time, patience and moolah. It goes against my grain, but the patience part has been sort of been forced upon me by lack of time and budget. I constantly have to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day.

But with the holidays behind us and a little chump change finally back into the reserves, my landscaping dreams might finally be coming true. There is only one more obstacle left to tackle and that is the privacy screen that needs to go in before we go to town on the planting.

Privacy Screen is a bit of a misnomer for our purposes, which are purely about adding architectural interest in lieu of a second front facing window and have little or nothing to do with actual privacy.

I previously shared an early rendition of exterior plans:


We've modified the overall plan just a bit, taking it a little more modern with our choice of lighting fixtures and ultimately, our landscaping plan. However for the most part, screen renderings have remained somewhat unchanged.

We did momentarily toy with a smaller, more open panel design like those below:

Nick Noyes Architecture | Morgan Satterfield
But in the end, we are working towards a 8ft x 12ft version of this, which is inline with our original plan.

Yes... not only will we have plants, but our house numbers can finally go up as well.

We'll be ordering up the wood in the next week or so and will make headway on this project by early February... just in time to get those plants in the ground by early Spring. I'll be sure to post work in progress pics on Instagram (@holtwoodhipster) along the way.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

3 Things I Want to Make Right Now

Burning Feathers.
Full tutorial here.
African JuJu Hat Tutorial.
The breakdown breakthrough found here.
Feather topped drink stirrers.
The step by step found here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In the Kitchen // Make Ahead Salads


There are certain rituals I always turn to when beginning a new week. One of those involves meal-planning.  While I haven't quite evolved to mapping out every menu ahead of time for our household, you will likely find me any given Sunday combing the aisles of my local Trader Joe's in search of weeknight meal inspiration and quick, easy to grab food with which to stock the fridge. Food that is prepped and ready to eat is the best trick I know to help curb fast food temptation. Because if you are anything like me, you will no doubt push hunger to the limit until it's absolutely necessary to eat. now.

Budget permitting, a trip to Whole Foods is of course the ideal scenario. How easy it is to point to the food case and fill my cart up with my favorite salads, already prepared and ready to pack into those clear containers. And I will say this... it is a treat. But that is one place for me where temptation always gets the better of me and in no time flat, I find myself gleefully wheeling around a cart full of goodies, followed quickly by a remorseful ride back home.

Luckily, I know how to whip up two of my favorites from the Whole Foods deli case.


I like to stock up on the plastic food containers at my local Smart & Final and go for the whole "just bought" experience.  It's cheating yes, but I'm none the wiser when I peer into the fridge looking for my next snack. Fresh ingredients aside, most of the ingredients used in these salads will stretch into two or three batches, making these homemade versions as affordable as they are easy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Spotted on Etsy // Acme Couture


While out walking most evenings, we used to encounter a pack of Greyhounds, former racing dogs that had been rescued and fostered by an agency here in Orange County. As the evenings grew cooler, we'd eventually see their svelte frames walking towards us, blanketed with little custom coats to keep them warm. These were not particularly designed to be fashionable, but I always marveled at how elegant these beautiful dogs looked and particularly so as they paraded past in their colorful, wool coats.

Skipping around Etsy this past week, I spotted a shop- Acme Couture- that makes custom dog coats- many fashioned out of Pendleton type blankets with colorful tribal designs. They made me think of our little four-legged friends we used to meet up with while walking the old neighborhood. 

Be sure to stop by the shop for a peek at their design portfolio. They custom make coats in all different styles and sizes. Our old boy rarely heads outside these days, but I'm thinking of ordering up that purple beanie below to help Dylan keep his ears warm on cold mornings. 



Friday, January 18, 2013

Fantasy Friday // Sleep Under the Stars


We all have our idea of a dream date. Mine goes something like this:
Friday afternoon. The Mister. Whisked away from work. Unplug. Road trip into the desert. Passenger seat, musical dance party and salty snacks. Park under the stars. 
Fall asleep in a blanket burrito. 
First sight of the Grand Canyon at dawn.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Staying On Task

I'm a list maker. At any given time I'm logging several lists at once; things to make, things to buy, things to cook, things I need. I've got the BIG list and the little list. I've even got the list that becomes the scratch pad from which another list will inevitably be made. I've made the personal list and the household list, because as the navigator of this ship, I like to know where we're heading. 

I like to detail out my daily tasks to the hour and then revise throughout the day as I'm taken off task by other tasks. This ritualistic insanity somehow makes me feel sane- as if I have any control over matters. Because I'm prolific in my detailing, I typically keep it simple- a steno book and a medium ball point pen. But I like the idea of prettier lists. You know the kind with fancy headings and embossed covers; those thick pads of paper, pre-formatted with big, bright, bold letters designed to lessen the drudgery of daily chores. I like the idea so much, I just may have to pick up some of that pretty.

I'll have to be sure to add that to my list.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Palette Play // Charcoal + Honeyed Wood


There are some color combinations that just speak to your personal style. You know them when you see them. They are those go-to hues you recognize long before the other details in the room come into focus. Then once drawn in, you are a quick study to the art on the walls, the styled objects on the table, the fabric of the furniture, suddenly aware of them at every turn, punctuating the decor here and there. 

Well, charcoal paired with warm honeyed wood is that for me. 

I like the bold masculinity of this color palette. It's modern sophistication and rustic at play. This seemingly unnatural pairing are to me, the perfect compliment to one another.  The grain in the wood, made vibrant with stain or oil, lends a natural or handmade dimension to the matte-ness and flat-ness of black paint, plastic and metal. 

It's a combination you'll see more of as we reveal continued progress on the house- particularly outside. But I'm not immune to it's intoxicating effect on me when used indoors as well. 


The warmth of the floorboards and mirror against the matte black wall. 
Mid-century looks fresh + modern with the honeyed grains in the table and legs. The sheen of the leather and lacquered moldings gives further dimension. 
More leather and warm, oiled hardwood in one of my favorite workspaces.
Light walnut stained shutters help reflect the light in this moody office.
(There is a lot more where that came from too... click on the link at bottom- 5- to see more views)
There's something almost nautical about this staircase with paneling overhead.
A favorite alternate pairing // black, warm wood and white always looks fresh + clean.


Honeyed wood gives a hearty welcome from this doorstep. 
The black framed windows are a subtle detail against the front and center wood on the face of this residence
This is the just type of thing you'll see worked into the exterior at Holtwood House. We've already figured upkeep on all the wood into our game plan. 
The lacquered wood on this backyard work shed is framed up beautifully in black
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