Tuesday, 31 August 2010

I know I said I'd be back yesterday with a real post but I'm pretty backed up right now with work & trying to figure out the childcare situation, so I need a little break.  We toured a couple of daycare/ preschools  yesterday and I'm feeling pretty good about 1 so we'll see how it goes.  For now I'll just leave you with an image I got from one of my favorite reads, Head Over Heels.    It's perfect for the beginning of Fall and I cannot get over that velvet.  So sumptuous & beautifully aged!!  (I'm not sure I've actually used "sumptuous" in a sentence before but could think of no other word!)


Monday, 30 August 2010

Taking the Plunge

We're off today to check out a part-time daycare/ preschool for our little guys.  I'm sort of mixed about it, but mostly excited.  It will be 3 days a week and my mom will be watching them on a 4th day.   I'm attempting tp take the 5th day off so we'll see how it goes.  Christian's three years old and is dying for "friends" and loves classes and that sort of thing so I think it'll be great for him.  I worry a little bit about Justin (8 months) but I'm sure he'll be okay too.

We're really hoping that with almost full-time daycare, that we'll be able to get a bit more of a separation of work & home.  I hope my expectations aren't too high but I really feel right now that "something's gotta give."  If anyone has any insight out there about all of this, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

I'll be back today later with a real post!!

  xoxo, Lauren

Friday, 27 August 2010

Corolla & "my" Beach House

We're finishing up our week here in Corolla, North Carolina and I DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE.  I love this place.  we've been coming here for summer vacations ever since I was a kid and I even spent a summer working here with one of my best friends, Alissa, at the local sports bar, Sundogs.   

Here's a picture of Sundogs and its appearance is deceiving.  It's so much fun!!!  (If you ever come here, it's in the front of the Food Lion Shopping Center and gets going late night.  There's a huge tiki bar inside.)

During the 4 months that I worked at Sundogs (a college summer) I made some amazing friends who we get to come back & see every year...

It was a late night...  Nat Hall (on my left) & Jerry Cooper (on my right) used to bartend at Sundogs and play music all over the Outer Banks.  (Jerry's since moved & is now living with his wife in SC)...  I worked there 8 years ago and I've never looked at Corolla the same since.  It was interesting to get the "local" perspective after vacationing there for so long.  Honestly, I'd recommend having kids work at least a summer at their vacation spot because you really just do get a whole different flavor for it.  You respect it in a different way.  You see all that goes on behind the scenes and you appreciate it more.  (And, you always having friends to come back to!)

...The only types of pics Dave & I usually get together are the hand-holding the camera kind:

So, as I was saying, I do not want to leave this place:

Here's our beach house this year:

I'm not going to show you the inside BUT I'll show you what I wish it was:
Check out the lower level entry:

{Image via House of Turquoise)

And the dining area:

{Image via Head over Heels}

And the living room- oh my goodness!!!

{Design by SR Gambrel}

And "my" bathroom:

I LOVE this hammock which sits on the deck:  (really)

The bunk room:

{image unknown}

And my bedroom:

{Design by SR Gambrel}

Here's the walk up to the beach:  (Now back to reality ;)

Christian's having the best time.  He & my grandmother built this fortress:

Dave & my little sister Morgan (13 years old) enjoying the surf:

And Justin relaxing in his stroller:

I could literally dedicate an entire post to my son's thighs.  I CANNOT get over them.  They are so insanely squeezable and kissable and...  I'm going to spare you but it's hard for me to stop ;)

So anyway, have an amazing weekend and we will be enjoying the rest of ours right here:

xoxo, Lauren

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Decorative Memories in our Core

I often think about patterns from my childhood... Fabrics, tile, wallpapers, even linoleum patterns.  Many of them have really stayed with me over the years and I remember them fairly clearly.  For the ones that are no longer around... I wish I could just have a piece...  A yard or a square foot to look at and remember perfectly. 

The sofa in the photo below was upholstered in a beautiful chinoiserie floral in orangey-pinks, cream and green and was in my grandparents' living room in Honolulu many years ago.  I've seen the photo below of my grandfather & me over the years (and I'm not sure at what point I started consciously thinking of the fabric) but it's just sort of always been one of those fabrics filed away in my mind that I think of every so often and love. 

{My "Geedaddy" & me}

Below is another photo of me in my muumuu on the beloved sofa fabric.

My mom and I moved in with my grandparents to McLean, Virginia (just outside of Washington, DC) when I was 4 years old.  My grandmother has an amazing sense of style and we lived with them for 6 years before moving only a few minutes away. 

{My grandmother whom I called "Beautiful Grandmother" (she told me that was her name ;) and me...  Again, the blue & white Hawaiian print that I'm wearing...  that's one of those fabrics that's so ingrained in my memory that it just feels good to look at.  If I ever had a little girl and found an outfit just like that one, I'd be in Heaven.}

When I find things that remind me of pieces  my grandmother's had over the years, I often buy them on the spot.  They just give me this good feeling. It's almost that feeling you get when you first wake up and you can't quite remember a dream but then you do and it just feels so good.  Does that make sense?

{I bought this Chinoiserie ginger jar flea market lamp the second I saw it because it reminded me of my grandmother's lamps}

It's what it would be like if you could actually grasp a cloud.  (I remember being little and scraping the inside out of an oreo and just holding the white part...  It was strangely satisfying in that same weird way.)  It's the intangibles in life.  And when you finally have them clear in your memory or physically in your hands, its's so oddly satisfying.  I feel this way about prints...

Another one is this vintage blue peacock flower fabric on my Grandma Maestranzi's (my Grandmother on my dad's side) dining room chairs in Antioch, Illinois:

Lucky for me she was a little old Italian grandma who protected everything under oh-so-chic PLASTIC.  It's still perfectly preserved to this day.  (Thanks Grandma!!) 

I'll never forget the cloud wallpaper in my nursery or the pale green vine fabric on my first big girl bed - a canopy bed- at my dad's house.    I remember picking it out at the store. (My parents divorced when I was really young and so I had a bedroom at my mom's and a bedroom at my dad's.)

My mom had this vintage butterfly quilt in cream and earthtones...  I wonder if it's still around?  My Aunt Josephine had these beautiful japanese gardens with stone pagodas that I'll never forget...  My grandmother has a beautiful blue and gold floral throw blanket made by my great grandmother (I think?)...  Terrible linoleum in the kitchen (not picked out by her I don't think) that I used to love & stare at...  It was fun finding shapes in the linoleum and I'd always show people the "two dinosaurs" I'd found throughout the pattern. It's since been replaced and looks so good, but I can't help but miss that pattern.  

...Anyway, I could go on & on (and seriously it's so satisfying recounting the patterns) but I guess what I'm getting at is that these patterns are so ingrained in my mind.  These choices made by my grandmothers & my mom and the people who decorated & accessorized the homes I spent time in really did affect me.  Even at that age, I recogized beautiful & interesting things.  (Some of them were even plastic flowers so I'm not saying they're necessarily beautiful today...  but to me they are.)   I loved looking at them.  The same goes for a lot of the artwork and accessories around the house- things my grandparents had picked up on their extensive travels, knickknacks and china my Grandma Maestranzi collected...  I remember going from tabletop to tabletop in both houses playing with the accessories... 


I was an only child for 15 years (my little sister, Morgan, was born 15 years after me when my mom married my stepdad, Tom) so I guess before that, I spent a lot of time alone, exploring the houses, observing everything in them.  To this day I like looking through my grandmother's linen closet at her sheet sets and still get a twinge of excitement when I see the vintage leafy green printed futon being pulled down from the garage.  (This happened when my closest cousins came to visit us and - just like a memory-inducing smell- the sight of that futon still gives me a childish excitement.)

Even as I write, I'm struck by the flood of memories & feeling that seeing or remembering patterns and objects from my past elicits in me.  I am so happy when Christian asks to be lifted up to see something on a shelf- like the little froggy limoge box that sits on our bookshelves.  He gets to hold it and play with it for a little bit before we put it back, just like I used to be allowed to do. 

What we put in our homes today affects our  not only our present, but is also the backdrop for our future memories. If you have kids around noticing the things, you just might be helping to develop their taste, style.  The fabrics and patterns from my past are so ingrained in my memory that I know they've influence my design aesthetic.  As I work on fabrics for the my upcoming fabric line, I'm amazed by how many of my ideas spring directly from the patterns of my past.

To some people, picking the fabric for a throw pillow may be as easy as running to Target and choosing a color that works with their rug...  to me, it's way more than that...  (although the pillow could be from Target! ;)  It has to elicit an emotional response from me or my client.  A fabric I choose is typically somehow tied to the past, memories or a feeling -although I (or they) might not even know it at first...   Designing a home's a big deal to me and those little choices are all a part of the equation.  Your thoughts??

xoxo, Lauren

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The best laid plans & the disadvantage of berry bushes

Justin's 'cruising' now so I temporaily switched out our lucite cocktail table in the living room with an ikea slipcovered ottoman from our family room.  It'll stay in here until he can walk & I don't have to worry about him breaking his face on the table.   The look is a bit cuter than I like for my living room, but since it's temporary, I can deal.  Whatever's there always seems to be toy central and here's a quick pic now: 

{I tried to get Justin in the picture but he got away}

The beauty of slipcovers is that you can wash them whenever you need to.  The not-so-beautiful part is that with my little guys and Justin's tendency to spit-up, that'll be fairly often. 

Well, as expected, we had our first major spit-up on the ottoman so I took off the top slipcover & washed it.  Everything came out fine and I laid it out to dry in the backyard.  That evening, as Dave & I were having a drink before dinner, I looked out the window and saw this:

Seriously???  Dave went down for confirmation as I took these pics from the living room... (ever-helpful am I ;)

{Yup.  Berry bird poop.  On the ottoman.}

We will now be attempting the "you can always bleach white slipcovers" thing. 

xoxo, Lauren

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Pure Project #14: Ride Down Memory Lane

When I was little and I used to visit my grandparents lakehouse during the summer (where my dad lives now) one of my favorite things to do was pick flowers.  They were everywhere in Antioch.  We used to make these little pressed flower arrangements in the dirt called "madonnas."  Have you ever heard of these?  I tried googling them and nothing came up so I don't know if maybe it's just something my Grandma Maestranzi made up??  Anyway, I remember doing it with my cousin Tracy.  It's so one of those things we probably shouldn't have been doing on our own, but it's one of my best memories.  Tracy & I went into the garage and filled up a paper bag with glass jars.  She hammered the jars and broke the glass.  (I was probably 5 and she was maybe 12? seriously.)  Then we took the "good" shards of glass and saved them for our maddonnas.    

{Tracy & I---- hammering glass for madonnas this summer... 20+ years later}

Then we picked a bunch of flowers and made little arrangements in the dirt and covered them with the broken glass pieces. 

We used to make little "tours" around the yard and take people from spot to spot to check out our madonnas.  This year we thought it would be fun to do madonnas with our kids. 

{Francesca, Christian & Maddie}

They girls had so much fun picking flowers and Christian just loved being with them.  This time, I handled the glass shards, but we let the girls make arrangements.  (Francesa is my cousin Michelle's daughter and Maddie is Tracy's daughter..  and Christian's mine :)

The photos really don't show how pretty they are...

{lily petals & weeds}

...  But I can share Maddie's reaction to them with you.  We wanted to surprise the girls so I had everything ready to go and did a couple of madonnas myself to show the girls for when they came outside to help.  When Maddie saw them she was wide eyed.  She has this soft little voice and she's a pretty chill kid who doesn't get excited about just anything.  She just stared at them in awe and said really slowly, "Oh...what are these beautiful things called?!!" It was too funny.

  They're literally just flowers & leaves pressed into dirt and covered in glass, but to a kid there's just something so beautiful & special about them. 

So this week's project is to take a minitrip down memory lane and recreate an old pastime.  Do something you loved to do as a kid and do it with your kids if you have them.  If you don't, do it on your own or with a friend and I think you'll be surprised at how much you still enjoy it.  -maybe it's a craft, a game, a meal, drawing, coloring, etc---   IF you're up for madonnas, it's also a fun tradition to start with your family and kids love it.  (just make sure that you're in charge of the glass unlike when we were kids.)  Let us know how the projects go and be sure to link up if you join in!!

xoxo, Lauren

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Last Hurrah of Summer

There's something magical about summer, and although Fall might be my favorite season, I'm never quite ready for Summer to end.  Those lazy summer days I remember from childhood seem to have been replaced by jam-packed hectic days of "to do lists, " work and maintaining a household. 

{My dad on his boat, 1982}

Time seems to fly by more quickly every year.  It really is crazy.  Family time is more important to me now than ever. We're heading down the Corolla (in the Outer Banks, NC) for our vacation next week with a quick detour in High Point today and tomorrow. 

But I cannot wait to hit that beach, even if it is a cloudy stormy day like this one a few years back:

I can't wait to READ A BOOK...  FICTION, not a design one.   (well, possibly 1 or 2 design books ;)

Hit the waves...  and maybe actually learn to surf this year.  (I've never attempted... pregnancy, new baby, the usual)

I love Corolla.  My family's been taking me there every August since I was kid and Dave used to go there as a kid too with family friends.  He's from New Jersey and how funny is it that all those years back, we've both been going to the same beach at the same time every year?  We'd all hang out at Tim Buck II, eating icecream and chatting it up with other kids, but we never met.   I also spent a summer working there in college (At Sundog's if you ever go!!) and Dave frequently visited his girlfriend-at-the-time who also worked there that very same summer. Still, we'd never met.  Funny how life works.  ...Now we go every year as a family and plan on continuing the tradition for the rest of our lives. 

Some places just feel like "home" even when you only go once a year. 

So this week, we're going "home..."  I particularly love this moment:

...The first time you hit the beach...  You've just taken the stairs up the dunes and you can hear the waves and smell it and you know you  have the whole week ahead of you to do nothing but be. 


savor these last couple of weeks.

xoxo, Lauren