Saturday, November 20, 2010

Modern Marvels

Did you know that a suite of appliances can easily cost as much as one of the cars currently sitting in my driveway? And how in the H@$# did I get to a stage of my life where I covet, simply love, the feel of a cool stainless steel handle in my hand? Unfortunately, not in my house. This would be in the high-end showroom of yesterday's work. For instance, why brew coffee in a pot when you can have a built-in wall coffee machine, piped with water already. At the touch of a button and insertion of coffee, bing! espresso into your cup. Alas, the salesman lamented, you still have to add the milk fresh. Sorry. A good thing, I might add, because the refrigerator made to house said milk needs to be doing it's job to justify that whopper of a price tag!

Yesterday there was also some reverent stroking of the ice machine which is constantly filled with Sonic ice. Sonic ice!! There should never be another kind. That one little stainless gem cost more than my anaesthesiologist at the last c-section, and you know which one I would pick in a head-to-head contest. However, given an extra, luxury anaesthesiologist just hanging around...Sonic ice would be divine in my daily morning ice water.

One appliance I could do without - the guilt-inducing built-in rotisserie oven. How would Walmart make payroll without our weekly rotisserie chicken purchase? So not only do you have a constant reminder that you're NOT Barefoot Contessa, but you've just put some poor deli schmuck out of a job? No thanks. One that I can get behind is the steam oven. Would we actually eat more vegetables though? I'll let you know in about 20 years, when I've finally saved enough.

This one is the granddaddy of all stoves. The pinnacle, so to speak, of having arrived in the kitchen world. You know what? After playing with it, open doors, removing grates, adjusting shelves. Really not impressed. Although being able to pick your color is pretty cool, the price tag is not. Really, too hot to handle. But I pick "Brick."

Friday, November 5, 2010


DNA is a funny thing. I had no idea little girls come pre-programmed with fashion sense. Wednesday afternoon I told Gillian she and I would be going to the Moms Talk meeting at church on Thursday morning. Knowing how she gets nervous about being separated from me, I started reminding her of all the friends she knows that would be in the play room with her. She looked perplexed. Then, disgruntled. I kept talking, trying to bring up the mood, but it wasn't working. Finally I said "what's wrong?" The answer:

"But what will I wear??"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mac and Cheese revolution

Sooo tired of feeding my kids junk lately. And I'm starting to put my foot down. Starting with the macaroni and cheese. How much of that can these kids eat before their muscles atrophy from lack of protein, their little bellies swell from the carb overload, and their teeth turn orange from that icky "cheese" powder? Gross. Last night - super fast, natural, 5-extra-minute mac and cheese was a big hit. Here it is:

Put salted water on to boil, and have 12oz pasta ready to pour in at the boiling stage.
Then, on the next burner, create the sauce:

3 Tbl butter
3 Tbl flour
Melt butter in saucepan, whisk in flour and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.

Then add:
1.5 cups milk
generous sprinkle kosher salt
dash white pepper - optional (my kids won't eat black pepper. it freaks them out.)
Whisk continuously as you pour the milk in to eliminate lumps. Continue to cook on low for 4-5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thickened. While that's cooking, grate some cheese.

1 cup grated cheddar
When sauce is thickened, pour cheese in and stir to combine.

The pasta should be about 2 minutes away from finishing at this point. Drain when it's done, and pour into your sauce. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of grated cheese on top.

This took me 15 minutes from start to finish, and I didn't feel one bit of guilt at feeding them this, with a salad and apple slices. Somehow, it didn't feel like a give-up dinner, but it only took 5 minutes longer than a box mix. And YUMMY!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back for another try

It's been what, 10 months since my last entry? Let's try this again. Talked to my friend last night about blogs and it reminded me that I actually have one. hmmm. Life intrudes sometimes. I've been pretty dizzy lately.

Yesterday was Halloween. Gabe was Harry Potter. Seriously, I have been waiting to dress him up as Harry Potter since he was 3. He's a dead-ringer. Gillian was a ballerina. (Thanks, baby, for making it easy on Mama. and you are a beautiful ballerina!) Marshall was a Chilean Miner. Hard hat, glasses, work boots and....escape capsule. I'm to blame and credit both. We thought it was uproariously funny when I suggested it, but was it tasteless? not sure. They were freed, in fact, not still trapped down there or anything. That would just be rude.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Craftsman Clever

Recently I got a question about "Craftsman" interiors. This can go by many different names, and usually they are just variations on a basic architectural style. Bungalow, Arts & Crafts, Stickley, Mission...people use them somewhat interchangeably, although they aren't, really. They do have some distinctions. However, for the purposes of today's post, we'll just say Craftsman. First, a tiny bit of history. (gotta put that degree to good use occasionally.) This movement which started in the mid-1800's with William Morris , among others, was a backlash against new industry and the overly fancy decor of Victorian England. One fear was that hand-crafted and artisan created items would be replaced by impersonal, mass-produced objects. (uh-huh.) There was a return to the organic, nature inspired interiors that eventually evolved into what we know of as the Arts and Crafts movement in America. That was very popular early in the 1900's, developed and promoted by Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley, the Greene Brothers (family-friendly bungalows all over California.) While Frank Lloyd Wright's ideas were revolutionary for the time, he did put a huge stamp on Interior Design. (for a bit of insight on Wright as a person, and his controversial lifestyle, Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan is a good read.)

Now, on to the real post of the day. When handcrafted, stained wood moldings, cabinets and floors are not an option, you can still bring the warmth of Craftsman style into a modern home with a few adjustments. If you can paint a cabinet or built-ins, try a mossy green instead of the standard bright-white trim. Changing hardware, lighting, fabrics, bedding and furniture all can contribute to a cozy Craftsman feel. This style is notoriously family friendly, with warm, organic colors (hide dirt and smudges!), leather finishes (wipe those paw prints right off!) and simple, clean lines (easier to dust!) Choose metal finishes such as copper, bronze and wrought iron.

Lighting is an easy change to make. These are good, decently priced fixtures that would go a long way towards contributing an Arts and Crafts feel. No, there weren't ceiling fans like this in Wright's homes, but none of your friends are going to care.

The bedroom below is a great example for modern inspiration. The furniture is a rustic oak grain in that beautiful warm, honey finish. Although this furniture is great, doing a whole suite of furniture in this style is not necessary. Just pick one, a focal piece that will set the tone of the room, and really emphasize it. The drapery panels here are modern, on a nice wrought-iron rod. The paint finish in the room is warm yet bright. I love the art, both the colors and scale. It really works because it's not competing with patterned fabrics. Someone is probably very comfy in this room. I know I would be.

Choose fabrics that have prints depicting nature - leaves, for example, and are textural and inviting without being overly decorative. Nothing fancy, shiny or silky please. And warm colors. Here's where I contradict myself a bit. California Bungalow style is a lot lighter than Wright's Chicago style, especially in modern renovations. It's really just a matter of climate. So, change the depth of color according to your taste, but the tone of the color (cool vs warm) should be homey, cozy, warm.

I love this bedroom, and it's a really good adaptation of Craftsman style, just modernized. Note the leafy print fabric, the simple oak headboard and uncomplicated bedding. Now, see how there's a clean, modern lamp on that nightstand? It's the right hue, good scale, simple shade. Forget the stained-glass mission style lamp. Clean it up, made it modern and really usable, and you'll like it for a lot longer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Year, New Media

Moonlighting: projects completed when even the moon has gone to bed. However, I do have to say they are with fun clients (thank you thank you), which is why I even consider drawing someone else's utility room at 11pm. Heaven Knows how much mine could benefit from a little drawing.

So, thinking ahead to next year, and the next, I decided it was time to reorder business cards with current, correct info. after 5 years. Going down this road a couple of times in the last year, and being put off by price, lack of originality, general cheesiness of most business card companies, I haven't been able to push the "place order" button on any orders I've started. However - today - I did it. Finally found a company with original, adorable, whimsical, unusual designs with which I did some business. It was really hard to choose between all the different designers. AND they do greeting cards or postcards. Soooo cute!!

I went with the "Mini Cards," which are the same length as business cards, but only 1" tall. The originality just appealed to the Designer in me. Here are a few of my favorite designs. The pattern is on the back, and the front is the info you provide. Great for calling cards, unorthodox business cards, or gift cards. For the first 100 cards, I will be represented by the first collection. But I can't WAIT to use them up and choose my next collection!

Fabulous Florals, Business Cards

MiniCards $19.99
Buy this on

Feeling Blue, MiniCards

MiniCards $19.99
Buy this on

This Is Not A Rainbow, MiniCards

MiniCards $19.99
Buy this on

By the way, for 2010, I promise to remember I have a blog.