Monday, February 22, 2010

A 'Fresh' New Secret... Shhhhh!

Last week I stopped into Kroger (local grocery store) for a quick OJ purchase.  This could have been the first time that I've ever gone into the grocery store for only one thing... it's not exactly my very favorite place to shop :)

Well, my karma must have been great that day because it led me into the store for my measly little purchase and down the aisle to the most fab deal ever.  Carts were loaded with discounted ~ way discounted ~ flowers.  I'm talking about a dozen roses for $1.50 and large bouquets of lilies or snapdragons for only 50 cents!  After sifting through the beautiful stems and giving most of my selections away to the other deal seekers (my enthusiasm seemed to quickly draw a crowd), this was the beauty that stole my heart:

I have been wanting to add a touch of fuchsia to our living room and, since the perfect throw has yet to be found, this gorgeous number will do the trick for now.  Pot included and originally priced at $29.99, it had been marked down to only $4.  Hydrangeas are one of my favorites ~ we even used them in our wedding bouquets.  Now let's just hope that I can keep her alive!  

Of course I had to head over to the counter and enquire the why's and the when's of this sale.  The florist said that there was nothing wrong with the flowers and that they had to disinfect the floral department twice a week which required them to mark down the flowers.  Upon further questioning, (I know I know... how annoying :) I learned that this takes place every Thursday and Sunday at our local Kroger!

Fresh flowers in every room for only dollars a week?  Now that is this black thumb's kind of bargain!  The next time you're in the grocery, you should ask them if they do the same.  And be sure to tell all of your besties... just not the whole town ;)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy (Last Minute) Valentine's Day!

Who doesn't love Godiva?  I mean really, their chocolate is to-die for... especially their dipped strawberries... yum!  But up to $7 each... Really?

Enter DIY version.  Hubby and I are making a formal dinner tonight for Vday and I thought that chocolate covered strawberries + champagne would be a light dessert.  (We're definitely not ones to skimp on the steak and shrimp to save room for dessert.  Ever.)

So ~ in case you are in need of a last minute 'sweet' gift ~ here's the no-hassle, 10 minute, $4 solution.  An especially great fix for that awkward "I really believed the 'let's not do gifts this year' discussion!"  (Note:  This was NOT a problem in our household... Hubby stuck to the rule... I didn't get my zebra rug, or wallpaper, or oversized mirror, or fuchsia throw (I know!!!  That would have been perfect for Vday!).  I'm not really complaining though, I actually love that we've never been into 'gift-giving' for Vday.

Ok... Grab your strawberries and chocolate.
(Any chocolate will do.)
Wash and dry berries.

Melt chocolate in double boiler.

No double boiler... no worries.
I used this fab alternative for years. 
Ceramic heat-safe bowl + pot + simmering water.
(Santa just brought me my fancy upgrade this Christmas :)

Refrigerate until set.

Ready for a romantic evening in about 15 min flat.

And it doubles as an uber-cheap centerpiece.  Score.

Ok... gonna go bring the extras to the neighbors.  And then it's back to hubby + me time.  Whatever you do today ~ I hope it's fab, yummy and fun!  

(P.S.  I know that choco covered berries aren't rocket science... thanks for reading anyway :)

Until next time ~

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Before, After... and Before Again??

Julia & Julia.  Last night, with ultra-high hopes compounded by weeks of anticipation, I settled in to watch this gorgeous true story (two true stories actually... And yes, I know, I'm a little behind on the movie scene.)  Even though the movie was fantastic (especially Meryl Streep as well as her character Julia Child), I was completely disappointed with my lack of inspiration following the film.  You see, my motivation has always had a deep connection with focus... focus and goal:  My productivity's very best friends.  I'm just a bit of a compass on crack without these two girlfriends.

SO... Need focus = Need office... Now.

This poor little box is the smallest room in the house and had been reserved for a nursery since we moved in last year.  Until that time comes, it's been the one room we 'allowed' to sit empty (with this beautiful cube-thing, of course).

When first inspired by design last November, I got a little  really excited (tend to do that) and instantly wanted a space to house all of my design books (ok... my zero books and one measly magazine).  A space to be creative and organized.  A space to call my own.

What I couldn't let myself do was spend any moola on this adult play space.  After all, it was just a new idea, a new excitement, a non-money-making office :)  SO, I gave myself two rules:

1. Cannot purchase any decor for this space.

2. No decor can be 'stolen' from another room.  (Doesn't make a lot of sense to dedecorate another space in order to create a design room, does it?) SO, all items used had to have been tucked away unused in a closet.  (NOT easy, considering that we've move across the world and back and sold most everything we owned a few years ago... but let's give it a go!)



So, the black cube-thing got turned into a surprisingly sturdy desk.  On the left side, a basket created the 'home' for larger miscellaneous items, and then a few magazine pages were used to hide those items.  A fantastic brass (read more about my new love for brass here) task floor lamp finally found his place in our home.  A ceramic and wooden trash can peeks out below... my linen magazine holder files mostly notepads and restoration hardware mags... and two metal oversized leaves add a bit of shape and interest to the squareness of the cube 'leg'.

The other cube houses this fab silver bowl (formally wasn't being used... now in our pantry... you'll understand why soon).  I filled it with extra pillow covers, etc to add some color (they were my fabric swatches in make-believe world).  I added this off-white frame with linen mat and photo (torn from a PB mag) along with my linen in/out trays too. They may have been empty... but they sure were sexy.

I'm so glad that we had kept this formally uber-hideous mirror.  It was in our 1/2 bath when we moved in.  Not only was it painted brass, in its reflection were the brand new brushed silver faucet and granite sink basin that the previous owner has updated.  I guess that replacing the mirror was... overlooked?  (Did I mention that someone had hung it by screwing directly through the wooden frame into the wall?!) 

Anyhoo, I painted it a light blue (left over paint from a guest room) and simply set it against the wall.  (It didn't make all of the pics.  Since this was about a 1am-3am project, the paining of the mirror didn't take place until the next day.)

A few crystal dishes and tea light candles, along with a couple of sticks from the yard, added some easy warmth to the black desk with such hard lines.  (Well, could've been easy had Tampa not loved the sticks so much!)  A sketch pad and my moleskine journal sit atop... oh how I love moleskine.

This oversized clipboard was my answer to an inspiration board.  (Although something more in the eye's view/less on the floor may just be a little more inspirational and reminding.)  My 'shag' was an extra bath mat.  The throw and pillow were added for extra comfort.  I did cheat on one thing... this chair was 'borrowed' from the kitchen.  I mean, who has extra chairs in their closets??  Hubby quickly reminded me that, although he loved my room, the chair should probably find its way back to the breakfast table :(

Ok everyone... say hello to my one design magazine.  At least it's a good one!  It's paperweight is the top of a glass canister and it sits next to a mini nickel frame and a vase of one of my favorites - hydrangeas, pulled from a bouquet hubby had brought home.

Let's say hello to the other side of the room too.  Another chair was slipcovered (why yes, yes it is a wrinkled shower curtain) and accessorized with a belted pillow and spray of live greenery.  Yep, there it is... went too far.  The belted pillow I actually dig, but the spray??  Clearly not the inspiration I was going for and thankfully not me. 

And another cube was assigned the role of a side table.  This 'inspiration' corner was ready to go with a few more mags, a larger sketch pad, the necessary art supplies, and a pedestal to keep a few more belts on-hand... because you just never know when you'll need to belt another pillow, right?

Sadly, my office only lasted for about a month.  We had boatloads of family come to visit for Christmas and the hubby felt that two guests rooms just weren't enough, we needed three.  So, my make-shift office quickly became, well, a not-so-pretty 'before'!  

Our other two guests rooms are a little more proper (i.e., real beds, etc), but this masterpiece was basically a fun space for the niece and nephew.  Hubby wanted them to be able to have a room to escape to and enjoy some Wii, movies, etc.  (Uncle Lou is pretty cool.)  He even wanted to get another flat screen, but the Mrs. had to strongly contest this idea and so, he pulled an old box tv from the garage and set it up on two black cubes.  I know!  Those things are really working hard, aren't they?


Oh yes, complete with a blow-up bed and... what's that... two more cubes acting as night stands.  I just couldn't show the other wall.  You can picture it though... a box tv, Wii, dvd player, lots of movies and a massage chair.  Sounds pretty, doesn't it?  If only I had found the time to put up some Miley Cyrus posters.  Next year.

The box has sat this way since Christmas and I think that today will be the day to switch it back.  Remember... focus needed!  Unfortunately, some of the accessories used have now found other homes.  I'll have to keep you posted on what ends up in the make-shift office this time.

I could really really use your help here.  Any ideas for other ways to use 'around the house' items?  What are the must-haves that I'm going to need in a design office?  If I bring myself to buy ONE thing... what should it be?

Until next time ~


Monday, February 8, 2010


Happy Monday!  Just wanted to show you all why there isn't some super -stylish post here today ;)

I spent ALL day yesterday working on this 'masterpiece' (ha!) instead:

Awww shit... that can't be good!
Oh well... we can just cut the bottom off, right?

Hmmm... didn't expect it to fall apart too!

SIX hours later...

Ta-Da!  (Ok ok, I know it's not gorgeous... but at least it was one fine save!)

And at least I got to watch (scratch that - listen to) all of the pre-game talks!

Poor Tampa... It was a tough loss, wasn't it buddy.

Nothing like a floor shot to remind me to cut the chair tags!

Until next time ~


Thursday, February 4, 2010

SUPER BOWL READY! Look Ma... No Cords! (Or cable boxes, or remotes...)

Marriage... some people say it's the epitome of compromise.  But hey - can't it just to be two people, two minds, two (typically very different) opinions... that come together and form one kick-ass team?  So then, it's really not a compromise - just building on each other's ideas to come up with an even cooler one.

One area of home decor that's sure to call for such conversation between man and woman... the TV.  I can easily accept (and actually kinda like... shhhh!) all things masculine when it comes to a good movie-watchin' room... but there's never gonna be any love for cords or cable boxes.  Ever.

Fortunately, my Mr. understood - and even agreed.  He was able to hide all of our cords and boxes and he got us down to one (yes ONE) remote that even a blonde like me can work!  Here's how:

~ He cut and wired a new outlet directly behind the TV to plug the power cord in to.  We just wrapped the additional length of the cord and tucked it behind the TV.

~ We then ordered a Sony Wireless HMDI Transmitter (retails for $1,000 - ouch! - but we found one for 75% off on Ebay!).  This enables all equipment to run wirelessly (no HDMIs running the to TV).  This look can still be achieved without the wireless transmitter, just run the cables through your wall.

~ Next, the remote of all remotes!  This baby is so easy to use and, even better, eliminates your need for a cable remote, surround sound remote, DVD remote, you get the picture.

The Logitech remote - a universal remote that can even control your lighting and heating/cooling... now that's what I call a lazy Sunday!

Not only does it eliminate multiple remotes, it also goes through doors!  (Magic, I know.)  So, we were able to hide all of our equipment in the cabinets... Yay!  You have NO idea how happy that makes me. :D

No cable modem, or DVR box, or transmitter box, or wireless router showing...

No DVD player, or Bose something, or Apple TV component...

No Monster Power strip, or another Bose something, or Playstation...

Just THIS.

Three cabinets, always closed, hiding away the boatloads of 'essentials', and perhaps in need of some super cute hardware.

Next, it's on to 'blending-in' the surround sound speakers.  We would have gone with flush-mount ceiling speakers, but we tend to move a lot and wanted to be able to bring it with us.  That left us with the Bose surround sound, which came in either black or white speakers.  We wanted black for the front speakers that go next to the TV, but preferred white for the rear speakers that get hung from the ceiling.  Of course, that wasn't an option.  (Hey, Bose... are you listening?)  

SO, it called for a little savviness.  We bought the system in black, ordered two brand new rear speakers in white from Ebay, and then sold ours.  It didn't cost us any more and the Mrs. got her wish!

Rear speaker in white blend much betta with the ceiling.

Here's an example of how to sexify a bedroom TV that only has a cable box to consider.  

~ Once again, the hubby cut and wired a new outlet directly behind the TV to accommodate the power cord.  

~ Then we simply tucked the cable box into the space between the TV and the wall.  It rests on top of the mount, so it never slips or comes loose.  

Cable boxes and remotes these days do not need a direct line of sight, just a proximity; Therefore, most remotes do not have to be directly 'hitting' the cable box to operate.  I guess design can thank modern technology for this one!  I'd love to do a gorgeous frame around this TV, but that'll have to wait for our bedroom remodel, and remember, this is a post on nixing all things plastic and technical ;)

Without a visible cable box, our shelf can be used simply for decor (and yes, I know that it needs more of it).  P.S.  Our bedroom isn't olive green, it's just the pic.  I'd love to give you a truly beautiful name of the wall color, but that's not an option either.  The 'non-olive' walls were pre-us and are next to go!

And finally, the room that only a woman could ever understand its undeniable need for company in the form of a telly.  I seriously spend probably 90% of my at-home time in this room... THE KITCHEN.  

I decided a few months after moving into our house that I really wanted some 'company' in the kitchen.  I wanted a stainless steel TV but no stores seemed to carry them.  Resorting to the internet I found just what momma was looking for:  A 20" Stainless Steel LCD Toshiba.  Upon further deal-surfing, I was able to order this $750 TV for only $250 from  Score.

Football nut (Mr.) + Indiana native (Mrs.) = nonstop NFL network lately.

We went with a swivel and tilt wall mount for the kitchen and are SO happy with that decision.  I can position it for easy viewing while I'm cooking away, chopping away or sitting at the table blogging away.  The best part?  It matches my appliances which just makes me smile :)

Since this TV is quite a bit smaller than the others, we couldn't attach the cable box to the back of it.  So, Mr. Inventive came up with a super cheap and super easy fix.  Two basic brackets, less than $1 each at our local hardware store, mount the cable box underneath the upper bookcase.  The cords are ran through a thin white pipe for a less-conspicuous look. 

More game talk.  At least it's paired with a pretty pic of the 'Welcome to Australia' flowers Lou gave me (in the spirit of the upcoming lovers holiday).

Ok, so now that us ladies are going to have our no cords, no cable boxes, no dvd players, no gazillion remotes... let's at least give our men everything that makes game day FUN.  You know my theory, I'm all for classing up any situation.  But I don't think that we should ever forego the fun stuff in an effort to be 'design-right'.  Sometimes, you just gotta let your hair down when it comes to decorating and party planning... in the interest of a good time. 

So let your hubby put out his helmets,

...grab that 'team-themed' chip bowl,

...aww hell, let him have his homemade Lombardi trophy too - complete with duct tape and all (I know I know, but the big V-Day is coming up... might as well remind him just how cool we are.)

Be proud of your paraphernalia and just have a good time!  Your hubby deserves it.  After all, he's worked hard hiding all of those wires ;)

My Super Bowl prediction:  I'll definitely be cheering for the Colts, however I think that the Saints have this one.

Who's your Super Bowl pick?

My Super Bowl Advice:  If you're considering purchasing a TV prior to the big game, I wouldn't recommend.  Our pre-game purchase last year dropped $1,000 in price only 3 months afterwards.

Thanks so much for joining me in my fight to end all public cording.  Please let me know if you have any questions and I'd love to learn if you have other ways of 'hiding'.  As always, I love love love your comments!

~ Joanna

P.S.  I will probably leave this post up until after Super Bowl Sunday.  Catch ya next week!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

THERE'S the Velvety Green Chair!

Helllllooooooo!  So sorry for the way long absence... I really didn't fall off the face of the earth, although those who know me best wouldn't be all that surprised if I had... I am a really big klutz!  (Remind me to tell you sometime about my oh-so-grand entrance into the Guillaume at Bennelong (THE restaurant in Sydney's Opera House)...

Note to self:  The below boots are only super chic if you can manage to make it to your table without tumbling down the 10 steps first.  Oh ya, it happened... I landed SMACK dab in the middle of the restaurant, right at the feet of a few other patrons.  (Although if you're ever pinched for pennies, this is apparently a great way to score free champagne from a classy restaurant ;)

Back to the blogging absence...  I was actually without internet (AND t.v.... arggg!) for 8 days.  I'd like to say that it was a semi-vacation free from all things technical and filled with books and magazines and everything cozy.  Unfortunately it was 8 FULL days (and counting) of stress filled phone calls and repairman visits trying to get everything fixed... Gotta love cable companies :(

Anyhoo... Just wanted to let you know that I'll be posting a 'real post' on here today.  It's going to be an instructional post on how to put a sophisticated touch on the oh-so-masculine Super Bowl necessities - T.V., the uber-ugly cable boxes, etc.  

'Look ma... No cords!'

Joanna =)