"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Eat: Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe

Two words: Salted Carmel.

I know my last post was about my new exercise ball and a renewed quest to determine the existence of any personal abdominal strength, but...if there's a legitimate reason to fall off the fitness wagon, the Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe in Santa Monica, California is it.

Surrender, Dorothy.

It's hard to know where to start...whole wheat shortbread cookies dusted with sugar? Mini chocolate dipped donuts? Scones? Croissants? Or of course, an actual meal (the warm-up act for dessert)?

First, you'll line up at the counter to place your order -don't worry about the wait, it will give you time to decide; change your mind; then change your mind again.

Once you've made a commitment and paid at the register, find a seat at one of the simple wooden tables with red-painted cafe chairs and put your order number on the holder provided.

Featuring locally-sourced farmer's market produce, hormone/antiobiotic-free meat and dairy and fresh baked breads and pastries, Huckleberry is the love child of a made-for-Romcom-romance baked in foodie heaven. Meet cute: Zoe Nathan met Josh Loeb when she took a job at his award winning restaurant, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen. However, where a movie would have ended with the proposal, the story in real life continues.
The husband and wife team now own and operate, not only Rustic Canyon, but also Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe, Sweet Rose Creamery, and Milo & Olive.

All of the restaurants have been lauded in the press, including the Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe. Travel + Leisure Magazine raves, "Huckleberry takes the prize for L.A.'s best breakfast!" Angeleno Magazine writes, "Zoe Nathan pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a pastry chef." Los Angeles Magazine reports simply, "A Star (sandwich) is born."

Of course, the most important review of all is always your very own. Let me know what you order --and whatever you do, don't leave without dessert!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Goldilocks and the Three Balls

Meet my new office chair.

 It's sort of like a Hippity Hop for grown ups...and almost the same color as the one I had when I was five...

The idea came to me as a result of my body slowly turning to mush following weeks of sedentary writing and waxing poetic about flea markets. The truth is, the thighs and stomach didn't have far to go, but with muscle tone not unlike Jabba-the-Hut's I was starting to get nervous.

Enter Plan A: the exercise balance ball.

Before making a purchase and rushing headlong into what could only be a  fool-proof plan for abs of steel, I decided to do some Googling.

What I learned was that although there have been successful studies of folks finding relief from low back pain by using exercise balls as office chairs, evidence of the balls actually assisting in creating a stronger "core" is harder to come by. 

In addition, enthusiasts are warned it is not unheard of for people to accidentally fall off the ball; have a ball pop in a very undignified fashion beneath them; or result in what can only be described as a super-dorky appearance.

I was willing to take my chances.
The balls basically come in four sizes and are sold according to height. I read that when planning to use an exercise ball as an office chair, we work-out freaks should select one size down from the sizing recommendations. We should be able to plant our feet while sitting on top of the ball with knees at a 90 degree angle. Okay, perfect. Got it.

I ran over to Target, bought the "small" size and whipped home to inflate my new toy.

Using the hand pump, I inflated the ball and ran over to my desk to get started. My knees came up to my chest causing a bit of a wobble, and my eyes were sort of level with the base of my computer...Too small.

Not to be deterred, I ran (in the get-in-the-car-sense) back to Target, exchanged the ball and bought two more...a medium and a large...just in case.

By this time, the kids were home and they fought (enthusiastically debated) over who would get to blow up the medium ball. The teen won, and he quickly inflated the ball to gigantic proportions. It was huge.

Now, I had to strain to reach down to my keyboard, while my eyes looked at the top of the computer cabinet and my neck craned downward...Too big.

My quest had devolved into a cautionary tale of a flabby, modern-day, mid-life Goldilocks.

Back to the store. 

This time, I returned the "large" ball (we had decided to keep the medium) and I bought yet another size "small". The clerks were starting to look at me funny...

To the annoyance of his younger brother, I had the teen blow up the new ball. Instead of the mushy, under-inflated sphere I had created, his technique produced a much larger, and therefore, sittable result.

It worked! The ball was just right!

In a wonderful post on using exercise balls at your desk, writer Melanie Pinona blogged about the benefits on LifeHacker:
Negative reviews of the ball included users who were annoyed when they had to retrieve errant desk "chairs"; reported sore bums; headaches from over-bouncing while reading; and sticky situations sitting on plastic balls in the heat of summer. In addition, you may need to make adjustments to get your computer keyboard and screen in ergonomic alignment with the ball height.
Since I have been on the ball for only a few days at this point, I have not yet had the opportunity to experience all of the benefits. However, as far as a I'm concerned, so far, so good

 No six pack yet, but there's still time. Summer is coming...I'm bouncing.   

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hello, Again, Hello!

...Is anybody out there?...

I've been away from Home for 67 days and we have a lot of catching up to do!
Ironically, the very thing that necessitated my time away came about as a result of this blog. Funny how that works.

My recent adventure began with a post I wrote last year on the 2012 Pasadena Showcase House. The piece, Designer Style: 10 Lessons from A Showcase House, came to the attention of a bookazine publisher producing an issue on designer showcases. He liked the article and wanted to include it in the publication, Home Colors. I was thrilled! They were also looking for someone to write an introduction for the project and I happily obliged. It was a match made in home decor heaven. Color palettes, details and trends, oh-my!

When asked if I would be interested in writing my own bookazine, (a special-edition book in magazine format) on Flea Markets, however, I knew someone up there was looking out for me.  Nana has been pulling some strings.

It was a dream project. As a flea market fan for years (no need to count how many...) I have made pilgrimages to markets from Los Angeles to London and points in between. The legendary Paris Fleas are on my bucket list. I've toted oversized salvage home in my carry-on, and used twine and bungi cords to strap down my tailgate with the best of 'em. Countless Sunday afternoons spent strolling through stalls and sifting through bins had brought me to this moment. Channeling my inner flea market ninja, I felt prepared. 

There was just enough time to do a happy dance and thank my lucky stars before the whirlwind of writing, interviewing and photographing began. 

A newbie to the bookazine process, I had a long way to go and a short time to get there (Oh, yeah, quoting Smokey and the Bandit now...), but the wild ride was a reward in itself.

I interviewed antiques and collectible rockstars (aka appraisers) from the Antiques Roadshow, got to know The Junk Gypsies, Aime and Jolie Sikes, had amazing conversations with The Market Warriors and became an even bigger fan of Cari Cucksey.

I also learned that although, yes, the Paris Fleas really are as cool as they sound -I should also add Chicago, Texas, Philadelphia, Buenos Aires, Morroco and an all-night flea market in Illinois to my list.

Aside from new-found flea market wisdom, and the on-the-job purchases I scored on my journey, it was the people I met met and the stories they shared that made the most lasting impression: Welcome to The Tribe of the Treasure Seekers. If you belong to the Tribe, you know who you are. If you haven't joined yet, there's always room for kindred spirits.

I handed in the last bits of the bookazine about a week ago, and have taken a few days to catch my breath (and clean my house, feed my kids, and actually get myself to a yoga class...and all those other casualties of a looming deadline). It feels good.

Fabulous Flea Markets is due out on newstands nationwide July 2. Mark your calendars -and in the meantime...we will now be returning to our regularly scheduled programming. It's good to be Home. 

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