Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Coveted White Suit

I need to come clean - literally.  I was standing on the lawn talking to the neighbors just the other day, a loose knot I had tied in my hair hours before was hanging awkwardly at the back of my head and I remember becoming suddenly aware of the film of dirt I had covering every inch of exposed skin. Of course, we were right in the middle of our landscaping project. But I couldn't help but think back to all the times we had stopped to talk or waved hello and I looked, well... about the same. The two years I've spent working on our home has left little room or time for fussing with myself, or at least I've prioritized myself behind all the renovations. 

Suddenly embarrassed, I swore to them that I had real clothes hanging in my closet and that one day soon, they'd see me back to looking like a proper lady. We are after all, nearly finished with the big, dirty projects at this point. One of the things I'm most coveting for the day when I finally clean myself up again, is a white suit just in time for summer.

It's been nearly a decade since I owned one and I remember the one I wore (very often) back then fondly. I'll need a slightly updated cut - sans 90's vest- for the look I'm after today.

I'll pair it with either a graphic T or simple white tank. A black blouse will stand fill-in for days when I feel like mixing it up. 

Though I initially found a selection above what I was willing to spend, I remembered that Express had some good options in the suiting department and I was able to find a solution there that fit within my budget.

Here's what I'm thinking.

Jacket and pants from Express | Sandals and Wristlet found at Zara

Other images found here : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wishing For // Summer 2013

I like to keep things pretty simple come summertime and though it is the season of color, it's always funny how I manage to stay true to my two constant hues - black and white.  Here are a few little luxuries that have made my wish list for Summer 2013.

.01 This ASOS Peplum Frill Jumpsuit would be perfectly chic and comfortable for a warm night out. .02 I've been on the hunt for a white bicycle like this Twin City Step Over Derailleur  .03 Not everyone's cup of tea, but these Fiction Gladiator Sandals and I are a match made in summertime heaven .04 Cocktails around the home bar would be even more fun with these personalized coasters .05 The Tala Necklace by Margot & Me would dress up even a simple tank and shorts .06 We've been hunting for two seasons for just the perfect float- sans design or decal and this all white float by Sunsation is just the one we've been after .07 Summer weather calls for light (and friendly!) layers like this sheer Printed Modal T-shirt


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Magic Tricks

Sometimes, it's really better to begin a story at the end. Contrary to the process of all the great magicians, it's how I typically approach some grand scheme around the house. For me, it always starts with the illusion and then I set to work on all the components. It also helps set The Mister up for all the work that lies ahead for such said scheme. See, getting a glimpse of the final act that will eventually unfold keeps our eyes on the magic, not the twists and turns of the trick itself.

This past Memorial Weekend, we might have pulled off one of our greatest magic tricks yet.

Remember this former plot of dirt clods? Over the course of just several weekends, it had taken shape into what you see above. The original idea was to lay in stabilized DG (decomposed granite) and fill in the entire area. But by the end of last week, we had decided that the area needed a softer look and a little more color. A happy consequence of that decision was that splitting the section up to allow for a greenbelt of sod would also end up being less burdensome on our pocketbook. Win, win.

So we had 2.0 cubic yards of non-stabilized DG delivered and got to work lining all the beds on the property with it - front and back before finally focusing in on the area immediately around the fire bowl. 

Climbing into bed on Friday night, I could barely move.

We rose early on Saturday morning and loaded up on 125 sq. feet of sod, which resulted in a great little trick itself. We pieced it all in and ended up with absolutely zero waste. We couldn't do that again if we tried.

By 10am on Saturday, most of the sod work had been completed. We worked a bit more on the fire bowl that had been installed earlier in the week, but was not working properly. By dinnertime on Saturday, we were fire ready and our landscape design was finally complete. 

Sunday brought a few more feats of magic. The beautiful sod we had laid in was still going strong. I had half expected it to be brown and withering away by the end of day two. But somehow, we managed to keep it alive through the weekend by standing guard over it with the water hose in 80 degrees + temps. 

Additionally, after two seasons of beer spills around the bar, we managed to revive the outdoor carpet on the patio with a little steam cleaning. Magically, it looks as if we just installed it. 

I also squeezed in a little more handwork on the patio awning, which polished it up and readied it for all pool time fun to come.

We were also shocked at how much the plants around the yard came to life once the ground cover went in. Set against both the rocks and decomposed granite, we really saw all of the colors in the garden reveal themselves this weekend, a happy surprise considering all the dirt we've stared at for months and months while we made our backyard landscape plan a reality.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Landing Pad

Today I'm back over at Young Sophisticates with my bi-weekly column Homes That Work, sharing some thoughts on softening up your home's Landing Pad

Your entryway is the first space you see walking in from a long workday. Why not outfit it with some cushy comforts that are big on both style and function, so that this often overlooked area works a little harder for you. 

Here, I've some taken inspiration from the spaces spotlighted today at Young Sophisticates and pulled together a shopping guide that will help you achieve some extra style beyond the threshold.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Project Reveal // Updated Patio Table

I've been hinting at several projects still in the works that will complete our backyard reno this summer. One of these was a make-over of our existing patio table set. We considered upgrading to a brand new set this year. After all, the patio table and chairs we already owned had been painted and repainted several times over the past 8 years. 

But I really liked our garage sale find chairs and the structure of our old IKEA table and decided to try my hand at updating them once more. 

If you are following me along on Instagram, you've likely already seen a partial reveal. For those of you  who are not, behold - a modern re-do on our old patio dining set.

We repurposed the old base, painting it black to match the new paint on the chairs. The old tabletop was weathered beyond repair and needed to be ditched. 

A quick trip (or three) to Home Depot and I returned with some pre-cut pieces of birch that would form our new table top. They were in pretty good shape to begin with, but I sanded all sides of each board down to a smooth finish before then staining all sides. 

I enlisted The Mister to help me put it all together. On the underside, we ran four boards vertically to allow for extra support and durability. Once constructed, the tabletop was screwed back into the painted  IKEA metal base and then coated several times in Varathane for weather and sun protection.

These favorite chairs were picked up as leftovers from a garage sale that had largely sold through and get this... for a mere $10. When we originally bought them, they were a rusty chrome. Eventually, we painted them white and that look held us over for several years. 

Currently, I'm feeling the black paired with warm wood vibe and this new combination is quite at home in our redesigned backyard. Our patio bar on the opposite side of the yard is constructed of the same wood and stained the same light walnut. 

Eventually, we will probably swap out the seat cushions for a darker fabric. For now, they are in pretty decent shape and we will probably squeeze one more year out of them.

Despite all the weeknight labor that went into this, it was a really satisfying project. We're already planning for lots of al fresco, poolside dinners this summer.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Stargazing // Griffith Observatory

I count Griffith Observatory as one of my most favorite places on the planet. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with all the nostalgia I have wrapped up in it's exhibit halls and views of our beloved city. Truth be told, the grounds overlook some of the most incredible views of Los Angeles to be found. But from a design perspective, the combination of finishes that went into first building and then renovating this remarkable building, well, I imagine they rival some of the great monuments on this continent or any other. It's truly a marvel - there is no other word to describe it. 

On Saturday afternoon, The Mister and I headed up to Griffith Observatory for it's monthly "Star Party". I had been anxious to share a place I have such a fondness for with him for so long. He's a native Angeleno and yet had never been up to see it- blasphemy!

The "Star Party" hosted each month by the Observatory draws an atypically large crowd. Parking stretched down the road for nearly a mile... which translated into a mile hike upward for most attendees.  But once to the top, it truly was a party, complete with amateur astronomers that bring their prized telescopes out onto the lawn and offer the curious a glimpse into galaxies far, far away. Ok, maybe that is hyperbole, but for our own viewings, we saw close ups of our own Moon, Jupiter, Venus and the Rings around Saturn for the very first time. We look up to the night sky every night, but I'll be damned if we weren't a little dumbstruck seeing it all through the lens that night. 

Amateur astronomers setting up telescopes on the lawn. Here you see the Planetarium dome (center), flanked by the East and West domes of the building
The South view from the Planetarium balcony. On a clear day, you can see straight through the city to the Pacific Ocean.

Little bronze doorways lead into the domes from adjacent balconies.
Deco embellishment set right into the famous concrete walls around the West dome.
A view of the Hollywood sign from a recently renovated area over the Observatory's restaurant
 If I'm being totally honest though, I was equally captivated by all the architectural details and finishes throughout and outside the building. Bronze, copper, brass, leather, concrete and marble all work together in spectacular fashion in the Deco-style design with moderne and modified greek influences and a beaux arts influenced plan. While history tells us that the drop in cost during the Great Depression allowed the Griffith Trust to indulge in more luxurious building materials, I have a slightly more romantic perspective on it. It's as if the original architects were more influenced by the stars themselves and made sure to highlight all of the natural elements found within our own star when planning the design.

There is also the greek key and scalloped detailing cast directly into the stark white concrete on the building's facade.  
The famous Hugo Balin Murals in the Rotunda ceiling just as you walk in the front entrance. This hangs right over the Foucault Pendulum, the first exhibit to be built at the Observatory in 1935. The Pendulum boasts a 240 pound brass ball and demonstrates the Earth's rotation.
Ceiling details
A glowing interior hallway
More finishes and details

The Gunther "Depths of Space" Exhibit

You can read up a little more on the Observatory's history and the extensive renovation process that took place in 2002 here

The Observatory hosts a monthly "Star Party". The full schedule and details can be found here. From our own experience, be advised that the grounds are quite crowded during this time so browsing time among the exhibits is not optimal. Plan to arrive by 4pm and stay the evening- but be sure to purchase tickets for the Planetarium shows right away, as they are first come, first serve with no reservations. Comfortable, layered clothing and shoes is a must, as parking will likely be quite a ways down the hill. Tram service is unfortunately not available.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Advice to Brides That Will Be

Today, we're 5 years in.
In the midst of wedding season and all the stress and nerves that go into planning a wedding, may I offer up a bit of unsolicited advice?

When you think back on your wedding day and look through your wedding album, I'm willing to bet that you probably won't even remember the color of your nail polish, how the cake tasted or the meaningless family squabbles. What you'll remember most about your wedding day are moments like these, when you finally let it all go and just enjoyed that one perfect night. 

In the end, it all seems to work out anyway.

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