"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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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shop: Colcha

Colcha is tastemaker Sue Cowie's very personal interpretation of what style means in Los Angeles. In the shop she opened on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach in 2009, Cowie riffs on the city's "uniquely casual lifestyle and eclectic yet sophisticated aesthetic." 

I found the shop on a Saturday stroll down the trendy boulevard and was lured (moth to a flame) by the colorful displays and the loft-like airy space.

Once inside, the attraction continued.
With an emphasis on the well-crafted and the worldly, Cowie's collections are edited to suit the sun-drenched California lifestyle and the people who love it. 

Cowie says Colcha (which means "quilt" in Spanish) represents the way she envisions people living with the pieces in their homes --and if you need help with that vision, interior design consultations are available.

 "Colcha is certainly my home away from home, so I use it in the same way.  [For instance] the store front antique farmhouse dining table set with Alex Marshall ceramics and Casa Midy opera chairs is home to dinner parties; the glass and mirrored Symi tray tables and lanterns are employed for casual gatherings at art showings; and the luxurious leather Cowie Club Chairs featured with a selection of Jamie Young lamps create the ambiance..."  

Personally, I was enamoured with the colorful collection of bowls spilling out of a brightly colored potato basket on the entry way table...tempting, very tempting...I mean bowls are a necessity, right? We need bowls...

Stay tuned. Will she or won't she succumb to her bowl fetish. Will the family eat happily ever after from the cutest little bowls you ever did see? A cliff hanger for sure.

In the meantime, stay inspired! xo

To visit Colcha in person, head to 1416 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice Beach, California, or check out Cowies blog here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shop: Bountiful

Sometimes, more is more...

and Bountiful, an antiques & collectibles store on trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd., in Venice California is a perfect example.

Packed (literally) floor to ceiling with the kind of treasures found at the best vintage flea markets, Bountiful is a curated collection of (mostly) old and (sometimes) new home decor by owner Sue Balmforth. It's part whimsy, part style and all charm. 

The shop is a haven for interior designers, Hollywood stylists, home decor enthusiasts and the occasional celeb.

 In spite of the shabby chic aesthetic, those expecting flea market prices will have to look elsewhere. Still, it's a jewel box of discovery and if you are lucky enough to happen upon that certain something-- as the old slogan goes...priceless.

Several colorful cake stand displays create a bold (and brave) statement --especially here in earthquake territory.

Let them eat cake! Absolutely gorgeous...but you might want to leave the kids outside...

Read more about Bountiful on the company website, or better yet, head over to the shop in person: 1335 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice Beach, California.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Harvest: Double Crumble

Summer fruit is delicious, and summer fruit from a friend's garden is even sweeter.

A great friend with a green thumb (Dana Hughes you know who you are!) recently gifted me with a basket full of ripe plums and I was thrilled. The only "catch" if you will, was too much of a good thing. We weren't eating them fast enough!

Enter the fruit flies...pesky little harbingers of fruity doom.

It could only mean one thing: time for a crumble.

Using an amazing recipe for Plum Raspberry Crumble from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris cookbook I baked up a crumble with my own special twist: I doubled the crumble! 

It felt sort of naughty and decadent. It's getting kind of wild & crazy in the kitchen, right?

But, let's be honest it's everyone's favorite part.  

My little experiment worried me, until we got to taste it. It might be too much crumble for some folks, but for this family you can see the results for yourself below.

Happy. Summer.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Note Worthy: Backwards Prints

I love receiving cards, but I hate throwing them away.

On my recent trip to the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival, I discovered a line of clever cards that provide a perfect solution.

Designed by local artist and entrepreneur Brynne Cogorno, Backward Prints note cards are actually two gifts in one.

Created on handmade paper made from tree-free materials, the cards are produced from organic Lotka fibers harvested from the skin of Daphne bushes.

Mixing Lotka pulp with a random mixture of more than 15 different wildflower seeds (think: poppies, snapdragons, daisies, foxglove, yarrow, chamomile and more), the resulting paper is printed with water soluable block printing ink and uses FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved paper for the inserts. Even the plastic card sleeves are made from polylactic acid, a starch made from corn and sugar cane.

Part two of the gift comes after the recipient has enjoyed your thoughtful sentiment and admired the witty print, not to mention your impeccable taste and style. At this point, she may proceed to rip your card up into little, tiny pieces. (Nothing personal.)

Four-to six weeks after "planting" the card pieces beneath 1/8th of an inch of soil, keeping the area moist and showering it with sunshine, your friend will be able to enjoy her very own wildflower garden -and think of you!

Check out Backward Prints in Booth 100 at the Sawdust Festival, or go online to the company website. The Plantable Notes are reasonably priced and too cute to pass up!

Blooming brilliant!

A helpful & friendly sales associate at the Backward Prints booth!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Glass Act: Artist Gavin Heath

Watching the glass blowers at work is one of my favorite things to do at the summertime Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach.

On the day I visited, South African artist Gavin Heath was demonstrating his work in the studio theater. Surrounded by a crowd of enraptured onlookers, Heath and his assistant took a molten glob of glass from start -to teapot!


Heath's art glass is featured at booth 520 inside the Sawdust Festival and is also on display at the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts. 

If you're feeling inspired, Heath also offers lessons at his studio...bucket list anyone?

For more info and photos of Heath's work, check out his blog at HeathArtGlass.blogspot.com.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Flea Market Finds Bookazine

Flea Market Finds: It's a book. It's a magazine. It's a bookazine and it's now on a news stand near you...are you heading out the door yet?

The project you have been reading about here has become a reality.

Thanks to the pros at Buoy Point Media and Media Source publishing, the results are top notch. Brilliant editing by Susan Elkin and creative art direction by Fabia Wargin bring the pages to life.

Flea Market Finds looks like a magazine, but it is similar to a book in the sense that, with the exception of a fantastic foreward written by Cari Cucksey, all 132 pages were written by one person --and I feel lucky and grateful to have been that person.

Over the course of a couple of months last spring, I had the opportunity to photograph, interview and research the people, places and trends that have made flea marketing one of America's favorite past times.


Between the covers you will meet HGTV stars like my fabulous new friend, Ms. Cari Cucksey, the dynamic duo of the Junk Gypsys (sisters Amie and Jolie Sikes), Antiques Roadshow expert appraisers Kathleen Guzman and Phil Weiss and the Grande Dame of flea marketing Shabby Chic's Rachel Ashwell.

I had the chance to speak with PBS' Market Warriors who shared their professional secrets and their personal journeys.

Entrepreneurs such as Retroda's Gary Oda, Salvage Design Company's Heather Roth, the Jennifer Price Studio, Allyn Scura Eyewear , medical salvage guru Tony Munoz, and Tim Byrne of Get Back, Inc. show what can happen when you find your passion and follow your heart, and creative interiors and ideas abound.

I would also like to give a shout out to Texas photog, April Pizana, the amazing artist who contributed photos of the Junk Gypsys as well as the interior shots of Dirks Bentley's Airstream. She absolutely rocks. Check out her work and her story on her beautiful blog, April Pizana

But wait, there's more, in addition to the talented folks who show us what is possible with a imagination and elbow grease, Flea Market Finds is also about where to find the best flea markets and how to make the most of your trip once you get there.

I hope you'll check it out (and maybe position it front and center on the news stand for me...just a thought...) at your local Costco, Target, Barnes and Noble, Walgreens, CVS, and supermarket news stands near you. 

 I hope you enjoy meeting the folks on these pages as much as I did!

 Happy hunting, and may all your flea markets be fabulous!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Scene: Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival

Forty-seven years ago local newspapers dubbed it The Rejects Festival when a faction of disgruntled artists broke away from Laguna Beach, California's juried Festival of the Arts to organize an arts and crafts showcase on their own terms.

Luckily, the name didn't stick. 

In 1968, however, when the rebel artists moved to a 3-acre site at 935 Laguna Canyon Road and dumped sawdust on the pathways to mitigate the dust and mud, the Sawdust Festival finally found its moniker and its home.

Today, the Sawdust Festival and the juried, more formal Festival of the Arts happily coexist on the same stretch of picturesque canyon road each summer from June to Labor Day. Everybody wins.

Locals Only: participating artists must live and work in the Laguna Beach community. 

Keep America beautiful! Support the arts: buy one piece of art every year (at least!).

True to its roots, the Sawdust Festival is an equal opportunity showcase for emerging artists and pros alike. Painters, potters, jewelry makers, photographers, weavers and more create their own open-air booths beneath a canopy of Eucalyptus.

The atmosphere is casual, creative, Californian.

In addition to browsing (and hopefully buying!) art, the festival also features demonstrations and classes (for kids and adults). Inspired!

Photographing the artwork inside of the booths is not encouraged, and sometimes it's prohibited -so instead I got pics of the artists in action (one of my favorite subjects!).

I guess that means you'll have to drive down the coast and see for yourself...sounds like a good excuse to me...

For dates, times and directions check out the website at: SawdustArtFestival.org/summer-festival/ .

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Desk Job: The Big Reveal


I know the blogosphere has been waiting on pins and needles for the big reveal of my 1978 Tanker desk makeover...and I am happy to report the sleepless nights are over! 


 Thanks to the heavy lifting of my boys the repainted (former jailhouse) Tanker has settled happily into my office niche and taken quickly to its new, civilian role.

Along with a multitude of summer sidetracks (to which I admittedly, gleefully succumbed), one of the reasons it took me so long to complete the makeover was my difficulty in making a decision on the desktop.

The existing faux-wood top was worn beyond shabby chic, looking instead merely shabby and more seedy than chic. I had imagined finding a  floral print, similar to the tote bag that inspired my paint choice, but no luck. On a whim, I bought sheets of Faux-Bois wood grain wrapping paper from Paper Source to see how they might look with the new paint. My kind of perfect. Just the right amount of design without being overpowering as well as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the original desktop.

 Originally, I had envisioned placing family photos, inspirational quotes and ephemera beneath the custom-cut glass top, but I changed my mind after falling in love with the whimsical simplicity of the faux-bois wood grain.

Instead, I used the 5x5 inch prints I ordered from Artifact Uprising and strung them clothesline style with mini-wooden clothespins. 

Although the ultra cool Artifact Uprising deserves its own blogpost, I have to tell you right-this-minute you absolutely need to check out this photo website. Ah-mazing! After receiving my first order of photos on nice, thick card stock, the online photo service has become one of my new favorite happy places -and I have a feeling it could easily become one of yours! (just in time for those vacation photos!)

I painted the inside of the all the drawers with a glossy white enamel and kept the existing black trays. Yes, chocolate is an office supply.

Now, if I can just keep it organized...

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