Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fewer Tricks // More Treats

This week is shaping up to be a light one post-wise. I'd been planning to share some happenings around the ol' house and some other things this week. But frankly, I've felt pretty conflicted about posting things that seem well, a little trivial in light of what is happening back East. I have no judgement on anybody else (because hey, I'm probably hitting up your blog for a little peace and distraction right now). But personally speaking, I'm having a difficult time with it. I've been pretty much glued to the nightly news, not as a voyeur seeking tragedy, but because I'm hoping to somehow see that it's all not going to be as bad as it seems right now. What I'm actually seeing is just too much to take in.

While I've always taken such things to heart, I really look at events like this so differently now. Maybe it's part of growing older and realizing the frailty of life, understanding that everything you own and know to be true can be taken away just like that. Maybe I look at things through a homeowner's eyes, understanding the emotional investment and attachment that comes with building a life, room by room. In the end, it's just stuff. But there are irreplaceable intangibles there that would be extremely tough to lose.

It's all made me long for a little innocence, like the days when I once ran wild through the streets, showing off the costume I planned for weeks, my bag overflowing with a bounty of treats I could not wait to dump onto the living room floor once back home.

There's a sweet sort of ignorance in being a kid, isn't there? There was so much I could not possibly have even fathomed back then. But even when real problems hit, there was still resilience in innocence and if I envy one thing about childhood, that just might be it.

In those days, there were definitely fewer tricks, more treats.

Tonight I'll hand out candy from the front door. We'll dim the lights, light the path along the walkway and play spooky music like we always do. But this evening, I'll also remember what a special time it is to be a kid and feel a little happier for them as they enjoy the sweetness of Halloween night.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall Family Dinner

It's amazing how last minute, informal gatherings can also be some of the most memorable. An unfussy rustic and seasonal menu, some candles and wine shared with family gathered around the dinner table made Saturday evening nearly perfect in my eyes. 

We roasted rainbow carrots, cut long and lengthwise. We grilled bone-in double thick pork chops rubbed with garlic and peppercorn. Then, we polished it all off with a homemade, crumble top apple pie that you all must make for yourselves. My first apple pie and I tell you, I was thanking my lucky stars that there was one piece left over for me to savor the next night. 

It all made for one of the best in a long time. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Around Here // Neutral Fall Nook

Residing on the patio just outside our kitchen door is this little nook that I just love at the moment.

It really all began with the mirror. Months ago, I had spotted a similar mirror in a longer, skinnier shape at my local Home Goods and foolishly left it behind, convinced that I'd return the following week to purchase it. I broke the cardinal rule of shopping at Home Goods, something I was reminded of the very next day when I decided I couldn't live without it and returned to the store, only to find somebody else had felt the very same way. To no avail, I scoured every other location within reach to find a duplicate.

I stopped in last week and found it's larger, fuller twin and after hanging it where it was always intended out on the patio, I celebrated by dressing up the surrounding area for the season. I whipped up a little skirt for the cart beneath it that holds all of our pool towels and paired it up with the Moroccan style hamper I decked out last week. But it finally all came together once I threw in a few studded pumpkins just like the fab ones Erika over at Small Shop came up with. They added just the right polish to this neutral nook.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

One Year Later

It's one year later. One year since I hit publish on my very first post. Though it was nothing profound or groundbreaking, perhaps that first one was the hardest. As someone who has always been shy and somewhat self-critical, I tend to get caught up in how others might perceive me. It may seem counterintuitive then for someone like me to put my thoughts, opinions and feelings out into the most public space there is.

But once I did it, I felt a little brave.  I've been brave 213 times over the last 12 months.

There have been posts I felt very proud of and others that I've looked back on and wished I had taken more time to write or research or maybe just approach a little differently. I've learned that one mis-used word can derail a post and make some well intended thought or idea come off as trivial or snarky and one year later, I can even tell you that I had seriously underestimated the amount of personal time I would need to invest just to be able to hit that publish button each day.

Nobody tells you that stuff and not many others even realize what is involved. As supportive as I consider my friends and family to be, very few understand this little hobby of mine. Some even wonder if I'm being too open and personal and worry that some weirdo out there is going to take advantage of me because of it or use that information to just plain ol' hurt my feelings.

Twelve months ago, nobody told me that it would take almost as long to even find my rhythm or my voice. I think I'm still developing those. I naively started off with a long list of topics to discuss here on the blog and no one was more surprised than I when I found just how quickly I had burned through them. One year in and I've learned that creating new and fresh content each day can be frustrating, competitive and isolating. Inevitably, the comparison game came into play at one point or ten during my first year and there have been times when I questioned why I was even putting myself through it all. Was I really contributing something meaningful or unique?  Was my time better spent doing some of the things I wrote about? Was anybody even reading these posts?  I can't tell you how many mornings  I have turned on my computer simply to see  if anybody had commented on a post yet.  As much of a community as it can be, there are times when blogging can also be very lonely.

One year later and I am not a famous blogger. I'm not supporting myself on ad income and neither my home or my words have been published anywhere but on my own blog. I blog because I want to blog. I blog for me. But there is no denying that I want people to read what I take so much time to write about and carry something positive away from it.

But for all its trials, blogging has brought other personal rewards my way and those were the ones I was counting on to begin with.  I made that first post happen at a time when I as feeling particularly stuck and frankly, a little lost. To be empowered with a tool that would not only motivate me, but hold me accountable to getting something creative out 4 or 5 times a week- regardless of what other uncontrollable chaos was happening around me, helped me get through an extremely tough period in my life.

Hard work and creativity are the best life preservers. Don't let anybody tell you differently.

The daily task I set before myself feels so good once I've tackled it. Whether I start my day with a post or end it with one, I either wake or fall asleep feeling accomplished. Don't get me wrong. I keep this blog in it's proper context. There are people out there doing truly brave work and accomplishing remarkable things on a much more significant scale.  I write about making my house a home, design and party inspiration. I am not saving the world or curing cancer. But as indulgent as this time investment might seem to some, the past year has meant so much to me.

One year later and I've learned so much, mostly about what I can do. I've even learned that I can tackle some of the more intimidating, administrative tasks associated with blogging. Of course, I can't take all the credit. I can't tell you how many times I've searched a help topic only to find the solution to my problem served up nice and tidy by another blogger who had taken the time to write a post about it based on their own trials and tribulations. Which leads me to another important realization one year later...

Knowing what I know now about all the hard work, the time investment, the loneliness and competitiveness and even the burn-out, makes me appreciate all the more the consistently good work posted each day by other bloggers. Some of them sure make it look easy. It's hard not to get sidetracked by fancy layouts or group photos at glamorous launch parties and double digit comment counts and imagine that each blogger was an overnight sensation. Perhaps there were a few. But I'm certain most of them probably sat right here where I am now not so long ago, having wondered the very same kinds of things over their first year or two of blogging. With newfound appreciation, I can tell you that based on my own experience, the blogs I follow read so much differently to me now. The bloggers that take the time to mentor newbies like myself, well I have only the utmost respect for.

One year from now, I still hope to be blogging away at Holtwood Hipster. Maybe I'll even share a little behind the name at some point. It's not as transparent as it sounds.  I hope that I will have gained more experience with applications that will improve the quality of my posts and I certainly hope that I will have built a stronger readership in one year's time.  Most of all, I plan to write more openly and honestly over the next year like I have in this post, so that others in this community will have a chance to get to know me better. Blogging is only half the fun when played safely as a spectator sport, am I right? This shy girl is going to hold herself accountable to be brave once more.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

{Fresh Ideas} Julie Hillman at Pound Ridge

Today I thought I'd spotlight some of the fresh design features in this kitchen designed by Julie Hillman. I happened upon the image a couple of months back and it just sort of jumped off the screen at me screaming Fall. It's easy to imagine the smells coming from a pot of hearty soup on that stovetop or freshly baked bread from the oven, no?

I love the interplay between rustic and modern. It's very much a farmhouse at heart, but brought current with chrome details, white stoneware and sleek glass containers placed throughout the space.  Recessed lighting casts the perfect warm glow in what might have otherwise been a darker room with limited natural light.  But what I love most about it is that I can easily imagine my own family bellying up to the table mid-afternoon to nosh and share a cup of coffee over an old story.

See more of Julie's masterful design work at Pound Ridge on her very fresh and uncomplicated website.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Feathering the Nest

Fall has always signaled change for me.  When I was a kid, it always meant the start of a new school year. Later, those changes evolved into more meaningful, life-impacting changes. Falling leaves eventually brought new relationships, jobs, even our new home.

So it goes that my inner clock sort of rallies this time of year and I find myself redecorating rooms, changing up menus, recommitting to better health and these days... even fluffing up the ol' blog.

The new format is still a work in progress, so please bear with me as I continue to feather the nest so to speak. Things are actually starting to feel pretty cozy around here.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Layered Fall Beds


Part of my fall ritual has always involved cozying up our bedroom by changing up the bedding, adding candles and other warm, inviting effects. It's nice transition from summertime, when it's really the opposite and all about a clean, uncomplicated look- white bedding, less clutter on floors and surfaces- anything that will make it feel cooler in the house. Two years in now at Holtwood House and I've learned how seasonal lighting changes effect the temperature in certain parts of our home- including the bedroom. A room that seemingly gets bright light and no circulation in the summer suddenly becomes much darker and draftier in the fall and winter.

I'm in the process of pulling out old standbys and hunting for some new layers to incorporate. A layered bed works perfectly here in the Southwest, when cooler days can quickly give way to a week of high pressure and warm Santa Ana winds.

Here are some good examples of tricks I like to use when fluffing up our fall bedroom.

I'm not big on bright colors this time of year. But layering on different tones can help keep an otherwise neutral, one-dimensional bed visually interesting. Of course, bed making is optional.

Faded fall light seems to have a narcotic effect on me. It's the only season where I allow myself to take a mid-day snooze. Chunky cable knit throws seem to beckon me to curl up for an afternoon nap.


The more pillows the better this time of year.
'Nuff said.


There is also something a little primitive about the season, no? Cozy faux fur can help warm up that crisp white bedding, making it the perfect place to hibernate during the cooler days and nights. 
This year might just be the year of the tiger at Holtwood House.


It's a trick fit for any season really and a pre-requisite for good layered look. I admit I'm still practicing when it comes to layering different patterns. But I've always been keen to a bed made with more threadier, grainier textiles on top of our softer linens.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Lacy Mask-erade

Not sure what costume you're wearing to that party you're invited to this weekend? Just the tiniest bit of lace offers the perfect foil and the right balance between sexy and demure. 

There will surely be a sea of sexy nurses and police women on that dance floor. Why not play a little coy with an on-trend, simple lace mask you can easily make yourself? A little obviously goes a long way.

Happy Weekend!

Images Via : 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Golden Glassware

Cooler months call for some more sophisticated cocktails served on the rocks. I can tell you that after a summer of sipping on fruity drinks in plastic cups by the pool, I'm certainly ready to indulge - especially if it's served up in one these pretties.   I'm just not so sure I'll be able to choose.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Project Reveal // Custom Clothes Hamper

I've been crushing hard on those West African style woven hampers for quite some time now. But most that I've come across have been out of reach budget-wise. I just can't personally justify spending upwards of $100 on a basket to hold dirty clothes, particularly when I need to prioritize spending on other projects around here. But golly are they pretty and I've always told myself that someday if I had one of my own, I'd always make sure to pick my clothes up off the floor.

I scored big time while perusing Home Goods the other day. I mean big time. One of the things I took home with me was a big ol' basket with the fluted lid, a pretty remarkable substitute for those I've seen elsewhere. The colors were all wrong, but I quickly recalled another basket version I'd been looking to incorporate in my decor and well, this this quick and easy DIY was born.

Time from start to finish:  10 minutes  //  Total cost: $30


Monday, October 15, 2012

Favorite {Healthy} Local Haunt: Greenleaf Chopshop

I wouldn't say I'm a health nut, but I can certainly appreciate a good-for-you meal. Serve up that good-for-you meal in a place that feels pretty good to be in and you might just make a health conscious convert out of me.

This evening, I'm popping in to share one of my favorite (and healthy) local haunts- Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop in Costa Mesa.

This is a restaurant I frequent as much for the inspiring food as for the innovative design. You are subtly introduced to their brand at every turn. It's there from the re-purposed, industrial seating and fixtures throughout (think metal garden boxes turned shandies and reclaimed wood tables), to oversized windows that look right out onto raised garden beds teeming with organic produce. You might as well be in the house of your dreams. Then they go and give you the list of ingredients and let you customize your own meal. And when they finally put that oversized bowl down in front of you, filled with everything but the kitchen sink and it tastes so damn good, it's as if they are saying, "my job here is done." Those crafty artisan chefs really make it all seem possible. I don't think there is a single patron who doesn't walk out of there daydreaming about how they can make all of that happen in their own home.

And luckily Greenleaf exists when you want to step out for bite and some ambience. A small wine bar right in the middle of the communal dining room even helps make this food-focused, eco-friendly, healthy haven a happy-hour hotspot. There's also an adjoining marketplace where you can pick up a fresh-pressed juice or coffee to go. Health conscious happy hour? Whodathunkit.

But one of the things that keeps me pulling up curbside is the landscape design out front. It's a sustainable California garden at it's best- architectural succulents, free-flowing grasses and mass plantings of colorful succulents mixed in with aromatic, cuttable herbs like rosemary and lavender.

Citrus, lavender, rosemary and senecio line the walkway to the door

Kalanchoe Beharense- a favorite to be planted in our own garden

Colorful 'Perle Von Nernburg' Echeveria and Senecio blanket the ground below a Draco.
The comfortable back courtyard with pea gravel flooring.

I'm still searching for the landscape designer responsible for overhauling this once nearly invisible corner lot. Nothing about it is invisible now. If the smells from the kitchen don't lure me in, on any given day the the eye-candy out front certainly will.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Current Fixation: Mussed Up Manes

Though I've worn my hair long most of my life, I've always considered myself a short-haired kind of gal. I'm always pulling it back into a pony-tail and teasing that I'm going to run out and have it all chopped off. The truth is, I've always felt more "me" after a dramatic cut. But somewhere between the sock bun and the fish-tail braid, I've recently learned to love the versatility that comes with longer locks.

My current fixation: tied back, mussed up manes.  Seems appropriate for the laid back, romantic nature of the season.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fancied Fall Floral

Step away from the mums. Today I'm sharing some simple ways to elevate your seasonal floral arrangements.

I get it. I felt the same little thrill rush over me the first time I spotted that annual display of chrysanthemums at my local nursery. I think I wait all year for that sighting because I know what it means. Fall in all of it's colorful glory is finally upon us.

But as much as I love to see neighborhood doorsteps dressed with pots overflowing, I always find myself going to the dark side, seeking out more dramatic vase fillers. 

Before I share some advice, let me plead my case with some examples of alternative fall flora.

Ariel Dearie
Martha Stewart
Sarah Winward
You may think it's all about the foliage and you're half right. I never met auburn leaf I didn't like. But there are other elements in these designs I gravitate to- especially this time of year.

Here are a few subtle tweaks that will turn your vase full of flowers into a seasonal show stopper.
Kelly Wearstler
Chelsea Kline 

Via Scot Meacham Wood
JL Designs

Aucourant Floral
Martha Stewart

Changing your mind a little?

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