what I do

what I do

Monday, December 24, 2012

A simple Christmas

This year is a no-fuss Christmas. It is in part on purpose - I wanted to keep things simple and stress-free with less focus on "stuff" (remember, I wrote about how I really want to make Christmas more about celebrating a baby being born and less about the other stuff? If you missed it, you can read it here) - and partly because of circumstances ... a busy work schedule, a torn up kitchen, "life" in general ...

If it wasn't done, it didn't need to get done was kind of how it went. My gifts are few (this was intentional) and all but one were bought online (which turned out to be a great time saver and even better, prevented the temptation to over-spend on impulse gifts). My baking was ... well, there was no baking this year. After months without an oven, the new one was finally installed but not until yesterday, so there are no snowflake cookies this year ... no homemade candy. The beautiful cards I bought will have to wait for another time ... and yet what I realized is that it is okay. In fact, it is more than okay ... it is perfect. I learned that I can step off the crazy-Christmas-rushing-around and everything will still be fine.

The peace I wanted to experience inside carried over to my decorations. I pulled the Christmas boxes down from the attic (oh, so many boxes ... so much "stuff"!) and then put them right back up again. Instead, I made tissue paper flowers and added a few papier-mâché ornaments I found at Marshalls while shopping for a wedding last month. I hung one (not the million I usually use) string of lights on the tree and sprinkled a few ornaments around. And you know what? I love it. It is just enough. 

I am looking forward to relaxing and spending time with my family this Christmas and I hope that whatever your plans are, and however you celebrate that you will experience joy and peace and wonder. And I also hope that if something doesn't get done like you had hoped or you run out of time or energy and you are stressing about that ... that you will be able to let it go and remember what is the most important thing ... the greatest gift ... a baby who came down from heaven.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” - Luke 2:8-12
Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Spirit of Christmas

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

I received an email tonight asking for prayer and it was so perfect and beautiful and timely that I wanted to share some it with you. 
"Holidays can be painful, remembering loved ones not with us anymore, or strained relationships that cause hurt. Pray for all to draw close to God and not expect family members to fill that spot. Pray for all of us to give of ourselves to those hurting ... "
It resonates with me this year particularly as many are going into this holiday with heavy hearts. I pray that as we finish up our last minute shopping and wrapping and decorating ... as we prepare for the joyful celebration of Christ's birth (and everything else we throw in at Christmas!), that God will bring comfort and hope to those who are suffering and and that He will show us ways that we can share His love with those in need of comfort and hope; to be His arms, His feet, His comforting words, His encouragement ... a messenger of His love. Because that is what the Christmas Spirit is all about.

image 1, image 2

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

LOVE in the form of snowflakes

Someone in my daughter's birth club posted about the snowflake project to support the Newtown elementary school and to help the teacher's and the PTA give the students a winter wonderland as they move into their new school building in January, and I thought it was a great way to be a part of their recovery. 

via pinterest

NEWTOWN, Conn. - When the students Sandy Hook Elementary School move into their new school building after the holiday season, teachers want to brighten their spirits with snowflakes from supporters all over the country.

The Connecticut Parent-Teacher Association is encouraging people to make and send homemade snowflakes to be displayed at the school Sandy Hook students will be attend, Chalk Hill, in a neighboring town. And remember, no two snowflakes are alike - so your unique designs are encouraged.
Please make and send snowflakes by Jan. 12, 2013 to:
Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

via Pinterest

Click here for a tutorial on how to make paper snowflakes or here for Martha Stewart's kid version. 
It is a wonderful way for every one of us to take part and support the children, the families and the teachers of Newtown. And even if you are completely overwhelmed with your busyness right now, the good news is they do not need them until January 12th so you have plenty of time! 

Martha Stewart
Will you join me (and hopefully countless others) in showering Newtown with LOVE in the form of paper snowflakes?

Friday, December 14, 2012

For Connecticut

I have no words. My tears are my prayers ... I pray for God's mercy and comfort for all those affected by this senseless tragedy. My heart goes out to you, Newtown.

"O LORD have mercy on me in my anguish. My eyes are red from weeping; my health is broken from sorrow."
- Psalms 31:9 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Decorating with fruit and simple flower arrangements

I put the finishing touches on this house today to get ready for their company party tomorrow. I added fresh flowers and simple bowls of fruit to keep the natural look I was going for, while adding a little color.

It was a beautiful day today in Orange County. The forecast was rain all day but this morning while I was driving around to pick up what I needed, the clouds began to clear and beautiful blue skies appeared. I snapped these photos while I was driving.

We don't often get a lot of "weather" down here in Southern California and so it was really nice to see all the puffy white clouds (and some really gray ones mixed in) with the blue skies peeking through.

So here is where I had left off last week:

I left a nice clean slate knowing I would come back and add fresh flowers and fruit.  For color and texture I used limes, pomegranates, tangerines, whole walnuts, cranberries and pine cones. I also threw some extra large marshmallows into a clear container for a little fun. For flowers, I started with white to go with my predominately silver and white palette using hydrangeas, a beautiful white amaryllis and white orchids. For a splash of color I added red roses. I also used Christmas greens and magnolia leaves to mix into my bouquets.

Do you recognize this house? We remodeled the kitchen last summer - you can read about it here.

The entry bouquet adds just the right amount of color and drama to greet their guests.

It should be a beautiful party!

Monday, December 10, 2012

An early Christmas present (or two)

You might remember these Midi Queen purses that I wrote about a few months ago. These one-of-a-kind handbags are designed by Kristina Wilkov (a.k.a. the MidiQueen) who lives in Ventura, Ca.
And lucky for me, she also happens to be friends with a good friend of mine.

My friend was in town this weekend and dropped by with bags galore for me to select from ...

I had told her what fabric I liked and she brought me out quite an assortment ... so many shapes and sizes that it was hard to pick just one.

This is the one I chose:

I liked the larger size of this one (W) 15” taper to 10” (H) 12” (D) 4 ½”). I thought I could throw in a pad of graph paper, a tape measure and a paint deck if I wanted to. It is going to make a darling work bag!!!

Honestly, I would have been happy with any of them. I also really liked this little clutch.

And the iPad cover.

And I really had a hard time not getting this wine caddy, not because I thought I would use it that much (I don't think I would be carrying chilled wine too many places or even a sack lunch these days), but because it is adorable:

 It has a removable pocket that holds two bottles of wine or without the divider, a lunch or two.

My daughter has had her Midi Queen "mother's" bag (a baby gift from my friend!) for a while now and loves it. It is unique and stylish and very sturdy. I am excited to finally have one of my own. The bags come in lots of fabrics and sizes ... If you want one for yourself, you can order them here and see more on their Facebook page here.

And for the other early present...

My new counters are coming soon! I'll tell you more about that later ...
Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Spend less ... give MORE.

My daughter (the one who is away at school and graduates next week ... woohoo!) sent me a video last week on the Advent Conspiracy. Have you heard of it?

The video (which talks about turning Christmas upside-down this season by spending less and worshiping more) resonated with me completely because I have been (slowly) trying to change the way we do Christmas for years. I have wanted Christmas to be more about love and peace and giving but not the kind of giving where we just add to the abundance of stuff we all have, or run around spending a lot of time, energy and resources (not to mention the stress of it all) just to find something to give the people we love to show them we love them. I have wanted to make it more about Jesus and less about Santa.
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:37-40
One year we put cash in people's mailboxes anonymously and it felt amazing. I wish I could say we did it every year. We started giving gifts of lambs and goats. And water. And you know what? We gave them to my nieces and nephew instead of toys and money for themselves and they were so welcoming of these gifts for other people. I love that they had big enough hearts to share their gifts with someone else.

Like most people, we have adopted families and given to those who have less than we do, but I wonder if it is enough. We do all that, but we still keep the same crazy pace, get stressed over things (that don't really matter) not getting done. And we still indulge each other with things we don't really need. I know it is a process and it is one I am willing to look into more deeply. And that is what I loved about the video. It was a nice reminder.

I really love this time of year. It is the season where people just seem a little more kind and loving. Oh, if we could just live it all year long. I hope that I can remember, and I hope you do too, that our overflow (whether it be our time, our resources and especially our love) is somebody else's necessity. And that Christmas is really about a baby being born ... who came down to this Earth to show us how much we are loved by God. We love because He first loved us. And we give because we have been given so much.

You can view the video here.
"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." - 1 John 3:17,18

Friday, December 7, 2012

And the color is ... green!

It's official.... the color is green. Emerald to be exact. Pantone announced the color of the year for 2013 yesterday:
"Green is the most abundant color in nature- the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum", said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. "As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate. Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world. This powerful and universally appealing tone translates easily to both fashion and home interiors."

Peter Dunham / House of Windsor via Marcus Design

Use it in small amounts, or large ...

Kelly Wearstler

It goes with everything!

Fabric: Madeline Weinrib / photo: Geoffrey Sokal

Maybe I should ask for one of these for Christmas:

vintage Van Cleef via

It matches my eyes!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's beginning to look like Christmas ...

I finished decorating another house for Christmas ... and I forgot to take my camera to record it. Eesh. I read somewhere recently that an interior designer needs two cameras. An iPhone (or SmartPhone) to take working photos and a good camera with a wide angle lens to show your work. 
"Most interior designers should own two cameras," said Chuck. "The camera in your iPhone, SmartPhone, or tablet computer can be used like a visual notebook to take pictures of what you see in a showroom, antique store, or auction." Email photos to your client for consideration, or print out the images for a meeting. "Your second camera should be a digital model with a wide-angle lens. I recommend an SLR (single lens reflex) camera because it allows you to put different lenses on the camera; you’ll want to use a wide-angle lens to record interiors." (quote from here)
I have a "decent" camera but it doesn't have a wide angle lens. I am working on getting one that does. But most importantly I need to remember to bring the camera! At least I had my iPhone with me.

I decorated the house in white, shiny silver and natural elements. The candles and silver balls will sparkle at night.

My client will be having her company party here soon and we will bring in fresh flowers and bowls of fruit to add to the decor.

I used some of what she already had and then added some things of my own. HomeGoods is usually first on my list when I shop for accessories and sometimes it just takes one trip to find what I need to fill in. Can you believe that I went to three HomeGoods and they were already wiped out of all their holiday decor? And it was only December 3rd! 

I was able to pick up a few things at Target and I pulled a few things from my own collection. 

The pinecone garland was my client's (originally from Pottery Barn) and was my inspiration for using a more natural look.

I wish I could have shared more of the house - it turned out quite well I have to say. You will have to take my word for it!