Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Easy Drinking: La Granja 360 Wines

I'm often surprised by what I find on the shelf at my local Trader Joes. But recently, I returned home feeling like I had hit the jackpot. I admit it. I got drawn in by the beautiful labels, but to my delight, what was inside the bottle was just as good. I brought home a couple of bottles of La Granja 360- the Tempranillo-Garnacha blend and Syrah- and found that either of these easy drinkers might just be the perfect everyday wine, and not just because they sell for just $4.99.

I always hesitate on opening a bottle of red if nobody is sharing. I know I'll probably only have a glass or two and it's rarely ever the same wine on the second day. But I'll be honest. I poured a glass on Day 1, threw it in the fridge and crossed my fingers that I'd be able to have half as decent of a glass on Day 2 and to my surprise- it was. It really was. 

My favorite of the two I tried was the blend. It drinks for a bottle at least three times the price. 

But can we just talk about the branding? It's inventive, fun and I'd happily display a couple of bottles at my home bar simply because of the way they look alone (though they probably wouldn't last long around here). Check out their website for some more eye candy and a little background on the maker. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Carving Out Some Girl Space in a Shared Space

I've never been a particularly girly girl. Truth be told, I'm pretty no-fuss when it comes to dressing for the day or even when going out for the evening. I have dreams of a proper fall wardrobe, but in all likelihood won't spend a lot of time scouting designer clothes at my local mall or pinning looks on Pinterest. But sometimes I want to be that girly girl and it's never been more so as it has during the last year of renovations on Holtwood House. I'll go weeks and weeks, donning a "uniform" of yoga pants, a t-shirt and pony-tail and consecutive weekends hauling debris, digging up dirt or battling hang-nails at my sewing machine, only to finally catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror and wonder how I could have let myself go.

It was during one of those reality checks when I resolved to put at least half as much into my appearance as I am our home. But I knew that if I was going to re-commit, I'd have to make it easy and so I turned to outfitting an small area where all my girly adornments could be easily accessed and displayed as a constant reminder.

We had this old entertainment armoire that I decided to re-purpose and use as an extended accessories closet in our bedroom. I have plans to re-finish it properly, but I ditched the shaker style knobs in favor of a little brass in the meantime and moved my jewels, heels and scents right on in. 

I addressed a couple of functional elements first, adding a shelf for shoes and hooks from which to wrangle up all my neckwear.

Earrings and cocktail rings are easily retrieved from velvet covered trays and porcelain bowls placed on the pull out shelf below.  

At some point, I'll probably add a light and flank the doors and sidewalls with some pretty paper. For now, it's serving me well as my own little girly space amongst our shared space.


Monday, August 27, 2012

[Handmade Birthday] Personalized for a Six-Year Old

I'm returning from my little posting hiatus last week to share with you a project I worked on in honor of my nephew's 6th birthday. All of the painted plastic animal projects floating around inspired me to go mostly monochrome in creating some personalized bookends that he could display in his room. At six, he's already a Motocross and BMX enthusiast, so I knew that I had to incorporate one or the other into the design. I paired the bookends with a couple of framed downloads found free via QA Designs . One shows an outline of Argentina and the other Italy, a representation of his family background. I simply had these printed as at 11x14 and then framed them up.

I think they were a hit...

The time away from the blog last week allowed me to get some of my creative juices flowing once more. I dove into a couple of projects around the house- one pretty major overhaul I hope to share the results of by the end of the week (or early next). I'm crossing my fingers that I can pull it off. After taking the summer off from house projects, it felt good to get back to it and start working on that old list again.

Wishing you a great week ahead, as we make our way towards the last holiday weekend of the season.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Post...

...and that is exactly what I plan to do.

Friends, I'm taking a little blog siesta this week. I'm just not feeling it. Frankly, I'm just not feeling much of anything. Maybe it's this never-ending heatwave that we seem to be having here on the West Coast sucking all of the creative energy out of me. Maybe it's just my quarterly introspection creeping in with the turning of the leaves on the trees outside my window. These are some of the things I need to sort out. 

So If you don't mind, I'm going to indulge in myself here just a bit and soak up every last bit of summer in my spare time. Hopefully, that will help me get a little clarity on the situation. 

See you back here next Monday.


Image Credit: Photographer Torkil Gudnason


Friday, August 17, 2012

Two Miracles In a Day

Aug 16-  "The Wedge",  Newport Beach

There's a scene in the movie City of Angels, where all of the angels in LA gather on the beach in the morning to witness the sunrise. While they are deprived of the human touch, or the feeling of the sand beneath their feet, they are able to "hear" music in the rising sun.

I always think of that scene and really what it is emphasizing- the human joys that we are lucky enough to experience here on Earth. Sunsets are one of them and like Seth and Cassiel, who gather with the rest of the Angels in the movie to watch the sun rise each day, we Californians seem to flock to the beach to watch the sun slowly descend onto the horizon each evening. It's cleansing- even therapeutic, because for those few moments, nothing else seems to matter except the daily miracle we are witnessing.

Yesterday's sunset let us witness another miracle of sorts. Let me explain.

Our boy Dylan is 9-years old and as expected for a 9-year old dog, he has slowed down quite a bit from the little terror of a puppy he once was. I say that with great affection because most days, I'd give anything to have that back. Dylan also suffers from a somewhat common condition called Cushing's Syndrome, which despite the greatest of medical care and daily medication to control symptoms, is slowly taking our boy from us. Let me say first that he is not "suffering" in any pain. But we do have to diligently stay on top of any sore or wound, lest it become an infection.  In addition to that, the emotional consequences of his condition aren't unlike a sort of dementia. There are instances, where we're not sure he even recognizes us. He is most content at home now and is no longer much of a "walker". Still, we try to keep it interesting for him and stimulate him with car rides, time around other dogs and so forth. Last night, we put him in the car and drove him down to a famous body surfing spot in Newport known as "The Wedge".  There is a nice long beach leading up to the shore break and we knew it'd be a good spot for him to see something interesting. It was a little bit of a struggle between the car and the edge of the sand, but eventually, we got there in time to watch skim boarders, body surfers and dolphins all taking advantage of the evening surf.

And of course, there was that therapeutic sunset.

As the sun finally disappeared and we headed back to the car, amazingly Dylan returned with a little pep in his step. Wide eyed, we watched him sort of dance along the sand and then the sidewalk and finally down the street and once back at the car, we found he wasn't exactly all that ready to climb back in for the ride home. The sunset on that beach last night gave us all the best gift we'd had in the longest time. Who says you can't witness two miracles in a day.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Anything But Basic Black

There's a part of me clinging to the daring neon hues of Summer. In these past couple of months, I took some risks and discovered I really like pink. Who knew? But truth be told that 'tis my nature to want to hurry forth and charge right onto the next thing ahead. Right on cue, I'm retreating back to comfortable basics and by this I mean my tried and true, go to hue- BLACK. As you can see, I have my eye on a few glossy goodies- a few for me, plus a few for Holtwood House. I'm counting on these to stylishly carry us both right on into Fall.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bringing the Hotel Experience Home

They sucked us in. After two nights back under the sheets of our modest queen at home, The Mister and I are placing an order for the hotel pillows we slept on all weekend at The Venetian Resort. In no time, a new, bigger, better, hotel-quality mattress will follow.

It used to be that all a hotel wanted to do was make you feel like you were in your own home. Today, a stay at a good hotel can make you question some of of the things you once couldn't wait to get back home to- your own mattress, your shower head, your regular cup of coffee.

Image Credit: Katherine Squier

Ever since we returned from our weekend stay, all I can think about are the plush pillows I rumpled under my neck each night, the shower head (with the greatest water pressure ever) that massaged my back each time I set foot in the shower and the gourmet cup of coffee always that was always waiting for me right at the foot of the elevator each morning. How can I get that kind of experience in my own home?

It's a big business now. We can thank Starwood Resorts for that. Back in 2000, we vacationed at The Westin Hotel in Maui and for the first time, I can remember conspiring about ways we could bring that bed home to our "someday" house. Placed right on the nightstand were order forms for the mattress, the pillows, even the sheets and bedskirt. The Heavenly Bed was truly that- heavenly and for the longest time now, it has been my dream to sleep on one - every night. I'm not alone either. By the end of 2011, Westin's parent company Starwood had sold over 60,000 of them, even making it even easier for their guests to purchase back at home from their local Nordstrom or Pottery Barn.

It seems no matter where you stay now, you can rest-assured that the comfortable mattress you had your best night's sleep on, is well within reach even when the vacation is over.

A-la-carte linens and pillows are also sold to complete the hotel-at-home experience. Like the pillow from that smaller hotel you stayed at? There's an online retailer that might even make it easier to source  than through the hotel staff itself.  The Venetian Hotel advertised it's Sealy Posturpedic mattress for purchase, but did not promote the in-room pillows at all. We inquired at the front desk, only to get routed around the hotel before finally getting the information we needed in a seemingly independent lobby gift shop. It took a little perseverance, but I'm looking forward to laying my head down on those magical hotel pillows here very soon.


Monday, August 13, 2012

...and Checking Out { A Vegas Recap }

When I checked in this morning, I let you know that my wanderlust got the best of me last week and I decided to check out for a little spontaneous Vegas holiday.

I have to say, Las Vegas truly did not disappoint. As usual, we sunned ourselves and ate and imbibed. But in another spontaneous (and fortuitous) maneuver, we decided to extend out our flight home. That made all the difference in the world this time around.

With LA's proximity to this desert mecca, I've spent many quick turn weekends in Vegas. Hell, that's where The Mister and I met! My typical M.O.- arrive Friday just in time to hit the town, spend Saturday in the pool, Saturday night in the club and get the hell out of dodge first thing in the morning. But on this trip, we spent the better part of two afternoons walking new hotels and tasting some of the greatest food this country has to offer. I felt a little WOWED at every turn and that was so refreshing to find in a place so familiar.

Mornings at Bouchon Bakery // Grimaldi's for Pizza // Poutine at Public House // Gelato at Cocolini // Dinner at Capital Grille // Snacked on the cheeseboard at Otto // Peel and eat shrimp at Margaritaville

Chocolate window displays at Aria // The most beautiful lobby bar EVER at The Cosmpolitan // Modern-boho at Jaleo (The Cosmpolitan) // Industrial at Public House (The Venetian) // Modern Greek at Milos (The Cosmopolitan) // Tree-house Dining (Maestro's Steakhouse at Crystalis)

We spent the whole of Saturday sipping Greyhounds with all the party people from The Venetian Pool and then retreated to a relaxing dinner with a spectacular view of the lighting storm in the distance on Saturday night.

But one of the most awe-inspiring sights of the trip were the digital columns in the lobby at The Cosmopolitan Hotel, which would catch you off guard by periodically changing scenes. My pictures don't do them justice. But I think that's the case with most of what you see in Vegas. In a place constantly blurring the lines of reality, it can only be experienced to be believed.


Checking In...

Just dropping in to wish you all a good morning! Hope you all are off to a great start this week. I apologize for the sporadic posting over the last few days. I saw my window and hopped a jet to Vegas last week to meet up with The Mister who was there on business. We had one hell of a weekend. Sometimes, spontaneity is just the thing that's needed. I'm learning.

Have you ever come back from Vegas totally renewed and rested?

...yeah, me neither.

I'll be back later this evening with another post so we can catch up!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trick It Out + Hit the Road

Bike /  Basket /  Grips / Light / Saddle / Bell / Bag / Wine Caddy

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

En Plein Air

I love it when the outdoors merge with the in. One of the first things I honed in on when touring our prospective home, was the floor to ceiling windows at the back of the house. From the minute I walked in the front door, I had a clear view right through the house of the pool and expansive backyard. It was my dream of true "California living" incarnate.

Cue the lanai doors, because as we continue to renovate Holtwood House, we're borrowing lots of inspiration from open air floor plans like these.

This one right above is EVERYTHING. You just gotta check out the full house tour previously featured on 
Desire to Inspire here.

Even though we tend to sway with our Mid-Century roots around here, it doesn't mean there is not plenty of open-air inspiration to be borrowed from more traditional home styles.

 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8



Monday, August 6, 2012

Food for Thought and a Project Update

Thought these were some wise words to kick off another week- and one set to be a very busy one in fact. I feel really good about the last couple of days I "exchanged" this past weekend. Remember this post where I told you all about the decor project I'm helping my sister out with and this one where I revealed the first room we finished? Well I finally got to work on the room my two nieces share. They got a new girly and fresh window treatment, as well as some new bedding which really brightened the space up. But there is still quite a bit to be done before I can share the reveal with you. We have some hot pink upholstered headboards, in addition to some refinished furniture in the works!

The rest of the weekend was spent puttering about- errands and rest. The Mister and I are really enjoying our summer nights on the patio and capped off a relaxing weekend with an outdoor movie last night.

Simple pleasures and really good memories to carry me into the bustling week ahead.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Forward-Fashion: Jeans with Heels

My summer break from projects around the house has my head running in new directions, like trading in my daily uniform for something a little more refined. Lately, It's all about jeans paired with heels. It's just not a look I've rocked enough.

Via:  1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Current Fixation: Disco Ball Accent

The Mister and I definitely need to funk it up around here. I'm thinking some disco ball action might be just the ticket. I know, I know... that's so 2011.

I'll level with you. Bailey McCarthy's recently revealed playroom might have sealed the deal on this latest obsession. But yes, there was some other mirrored goodness floating around out there long before I was ever hypnotized by that gold orb.

While I think the mirrored ball is most at home in a colorful bohemian or eclectic space, I'm really digging the whimsical surprise it infuses in an otherwise neutral, white room.

For our own purposes, I'm thinking we will probably defer from hanging it overhead and group two or three   as a floor display by the fireplace. And... if I have to be completely honest about this little daydream I'm having, I'm really envisioning them outside, where their reflection will play off the blue, backlit waters in our swimming pool.

They are widely available for purchase, but this just may turn into a little weeknight project this Fall, as I've been inspired to try my own hand at making one by the DIY mirrored ball tutorial I found at on the Craftzine Blog.

Inspiration via:
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 
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