"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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Friday, December 27, 2013

A Time to Pause...



We have reached that sweet spot in the year when the holidays we have looked forward to for months have passed and we find ourselves waiting for a new year to begin.

Time seems to slow down a bit, or maybe that's just me?

It's a time to reflect on the year behind us and look forward with hope and anticipation at the months to come. 

I wanted to let you know I will not be posting for the next few days, but working on new ideas for the year ahead -a clean slate, a fresh start.

See you in 2014!

(until then, enjoy today!)
xo


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Got Spirit? Collecting Nativity Art





Christmas decorations are personal; and while some folks prefer a Charlie Brown-Christmas and others align themselves with the Clark Griswold school of decorating, Loree Bowen and her family in Orange County, California, celebrate the season by unpacking ten large storage bins filled with more than seventy nativity scenes and related artwork.



  
Bowen says it’s a collection that started innocently enough almost two decades ago when she and a friend decided to hit the after-Christmas sales. “My girlfriend said she was going to start collecting snowmen,” recalls Bowen, “and so I decided to start collecting nativity scenes.” It was the beginning of an annual expedition any collector can relate to, “Everything was fifty-percent off!”


The impressive collection of nativity scenes may not be the largest personal gallery in existence (A distinction that appears to be held by priest, Father Joe Carroll of the non-profit group, Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego, CA, who counts more than 700 nativity scenes collected over 35 years) –but it is equally as meaningful.




Some of Bowen’s sets are miniature while others stand three-feet tall. When asked to pick a favorite, the nativity expert has to pause. Bowen says she has one carved from a single piece of wood that her parents purchased for her in Bethlehem. “That one means a lot because there is so much significance to it…but my girls like the ones they can play with –so we keep the Peanuts and the Veggie Tales [sets] on the bottom shelf.”



Another favorite is the stained glass nativity scene Bowen’s husband Matt bought for her, “that one is really pretty.”

In fact, Bowen says friends and family members sometimes give an assist in building the collection. She receives nativity scene cards at Christmastime (which she keeps), and her mother recently showed her a catalog containing two different nativity sets, one made out of gingerbread men, and the other out of gnomes. Let’s just say Bowen knows what she’ll be getting under the tree this year.




The collection, and the story it represents, has become a focal point for the family’s favorite holiday of the year. “We do Elf on The Shelf,” says Bowen, “and we do Santa and all of that, but this is a nice way to keep the kids grounded, help them remember [the meaning behind the season] and yet at the same time be silly and goofy --like the S’mores nativity scene.”




Bowen says six years ago, her mom used the collection as inspiration for her Christmas card. “She borrowed costumes from church and had my kids and my sisters dress up as a living nativity scene for her card…now I put [the card] out every year with the rest of the decorations.”




When I asked Bowen what the message of the nativity scene means to her, she spoke of faith and hope and added, “As Christians, we want to have a personal relationship with God…we want our kids to love Jesus and think of him as a friend they can talk to through prayer. Who’s more loveable, unintimidating and relatable to kids (or anyone) than a baby?”

“It’s not that we’re sitting around sipping cocoa and talking about the humility and humbleness of Jesus [as we’re setting up the display],” admits Bowen, “but I like this story…and the reminder of God’s grace and how it came through in such a humble and modest way.”


Nativity photography by Loree Bowen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Style + Integrity: David Rasmussen Furniture Design


You may remember when I featured the furniture of Colorado designer David Rasmussen on the blog back in June of 2012.
 (No? Okay, if you want to catch up, click here.)

In addition to Rasmussen's talent, I was also touched by his story. After a fire burned his studio -along with his tools, materials and inventory to the ground one cold November night, he vowed to find his way up from the ashes and initiated a Kickstarter campaign.

After writing about his fundraising efforts, I decided to put (a little) money where my mouth was --and contributed a whopping $20 to his campaign. Since Kickstarter usually involves an incentive for contributors, I was looking forward to recieving a wooden iPhone case.

Weeks went by, no case. In the meantime, however, I read that Rasmussen had met his goal and was beginning to rebuild his studio and his livelihood.  Good news.

One day, I received an email that since not enough people had opted for the wooden iPhone case, they weren't going to go into production, and instead would I like to receive a t-shirt or a tote bag. Naturally, I chose the tote.

Then, I waited some more. Months went by.

I was honestly happy to see his wooden trays popping up at retail locations, but was honestly a little peeved that the tote bag seemed to have been forgotten. At the same time, it seemed petty to complain about it.

Then, I received this:


An apology letter. Wow.

In it he writes, "Dear Supporters, It has been an incredibly challenging couple of years since the fire. I have at times thought that no matter how positive the response was to my work, I wouldn't find a way to balance the financial and physical requirements it would take to re-launch my studio. The good news is that I think I've come out on the other side. The bad news is that I have been unable to fulfull all of my promises in a timely manner. I realize you were expecting this shipment quite a long time ago. I am truly sorry it took me so long to get the reward out to you. 

As a token of my appreciation, I am also including a plate with your reward...please enjoy the extra reward. I am sincerely grateful for  your support."
-David Rasmussen, Principle

Style with integrity.





Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Inspired: Design Studio


 Pretty is as pretty does. A design space inspired by Halston and created by interior designer Michael Ostrow for Grace Home Furnishings. A light-filled room and furnishing so pretty it might be hard to concentrate...roses on the desktop make such a difference, don't they?



Friday, December 13, 2013

Fleamarket Friday: Flea Circus


 
You never know who you're going to run into at the fleamarket...


 It looks like a fun weekend ahead!
Here's what's happening:

Dec. 14-15; 10am-5pm both days
1340 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607
(directions online at randolphstreetmarket.com)
Advanced tickets purchased online, $8
$10 at the door; Seniors $5; Students with ID $3
 
Saturday, Dec. 14, 11am-5pm
at Jack London Square, Oakland, CA
For directions, click here
Free entry + dog friendly!

at Long Beach Veteran's Stadium
4901 E. Conant Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90808
Early admission, 5:30am - 6:30am $12
admission 6:30am - 2pm $6
kids under 12 free!
every Sunday 9am-5pm 
In the parking lot at Fairfax High School
7850 Fairfax Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
$3 Admission fee is a fundraiser for the high school

Brooklyn Flea
Brooklyn, NY
On the move...
 The Flea has moved to mammoth new digs in Williamsburg every weekend. Check out 50,000 sf  of space at 80 North 5th St. (at Wythe Ave.) with room for 200 vendors, including 75 food vendors. That means for the first time ever, Smorgasburg will operate year-round, and you'll be able to shop and chow your way through a proper giant market for the holidays and colder months

Open 10am-7pm through Dec. 21/22, and 10am-6pm for the rest of the winter (through March, 2014)."

Sat. & Sun. 9-5
 
Flea Bite:
A flea market might be the perfect place to pick up something for that special someone's collection! Thoughtful, authentic & original.

 Up Next:

December 22 (4th Sunday of the Month!)

Santa Monica Airport Outdoor Antiques Market
6am-8am, $7 admission; 8am -3pm $5 admission
Dog friendly!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Designer Detail: Hand-Painted Wallpaper


The dramatic hallway with checkerboard floors, elaborate moldings, marble baseboards and lacey wallpaper at the Greystone Mansion Designer Showcase House in Beverly Hills, was a bold statement from interior designer Francois Jantzen of Modoomodoo Interior Design.

Upon closer inspection, however, I realized it was an incredible labor of love as well. 

The "wallpaper" was actually painted on by hand. Since the photos here don't reflect the scale and grandeur of the hallway, you will have to take it from me --this must have taken days to complete!

Since the designers are not allowed to leave any marks on the original surfaces once the showcase ends --this was also very temporary.

 Inspired to try this at home? Let me know if you do!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Freeze Frame: Gallery Style


 Last October when I visited the Greystone Mansion Designer Showcase in Beverly Hills there was so much to photograph and share --I am still blogging about it months later!

I thought these gallery walls designed by Kara Smith at Smith + Firestone Associates (SFA) were just fantastic --and definitely worth imitating.
The black and white celebrity photography framed in a graphic presentation becomes mural-like --and the images are gorgeous. Just stunning...of course, the stacks of magazines made me feel right at home..

Next door, in what everyone was referring to as, 'the dog room', designer Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels, Winter Park, FL featured black and white doggie portraits in a canine dream room. I thought the choice of hanging the photos with frames touching was interesting --and it works.

Do you love the big 'sticks' on the table.
Fetching...


I'm not letting my dog, Daisy, see any of this...she may not have her own suite, but she still manages to lead the life of a very furry princess.

 


Monday, December 9, 2013

Pintastic: The DIY Rice Sock


If it's the holidays...it's time for rice socks!
If you've read this before, it may be time for you to make a new rice sock, if you haven't you're in for a treat.
One of my most popular posts on Pinterest ever --re-introducting, the rice sock:


  
Several years ago, I learned about the rice sock. A simple, home-made solution for warming up chilly bedsheets in winter or soothing sore muscles.

The socks were such a hit at our house, I started making them as gifts for close friends and family who wouldn't laugh too hard at receiving such a strange and admittedly odd-looking item. Once they tried it, however, the skeptics were converted. 

But there was a new problem. Squabbles broke out over who got to cozy up to the rice sock at night, and I ended up making several more to keep the peace. 

Over the years, I have considered jazzing them up -maybe adding scented herbs like lavender or layering a soft cashmere sock as an outer layer. But it's hard to beat the no-frills simplicity of the basic model.

As my holiday gift to you, I am including the directions below. Make one for yourself first! You deserve it! Then, if you know of someone who might appreciate a thoughtful, little gift feel free to share the love & warmth. Peace.

                         Uncooked rice.                            
Pour rice into a new, clean cotton athletic sock, leaving enough room to tie off the top.
Tightly knot the top of the sock.
Add a gift tag with simple directions. To warm: heat in microwave for 2 - 3 minutes on high. Handle carefully and with common sense. Enjoy!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Flea Circus Friday


 This week Flea Circus Friday really does feature, well, flea bait. Pups on parade -as well as some clever clothing and a mask that defies description...




Flea Market Flip filming at Long Beach's Antiques and Collectibles Market at Veteran's Stadium -always fun to get a glimpse behind the scenes!
 
This weekend head to:
 
Pasadena, CA
2nd Sunday of every month
coming up: Sunday, Dec.8
 
every Sunday 9am-5pm 
In the parking lot at Fairfax High School
7850 Fairfax Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
$3 Admission fee is a fundraiser for the high school

Brooklyn Flea
Brooklyn, NY
On the move...
"As always, this winter we move indoors, but with a big change: Having outgrown _from the Brooklyn Flea blog Skylight One Hanson (we bid you a fond adieu, old bank!), the Flea is moving to mammoth new digs in Williamsburg every weekend starting Nov. 30/Dec. 1: a 50,000 sf space at 80 North 5th St. (at Wythe Ave.) with room for 200 vendors, including 75 food vendors. That means for the first time ever, Smorgasburg will operate year-round, and you'll be able to shop and chow your way through a proper giant market for the holidays and colder months. We can't wait to share our new space with everyone.

We'll be open 10am-7pm through Dec. 21/22, and 10am-6pm for the rest of the winter (through March, 2014)."

Coming up... 

Dec. 14-15; 10am-5pm both days
1340 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607
(directions online at randolphstreetmarket.com)
Advanced tickets purchased online, $8
$10 at the door; Seniors $5; Students with ID $3
 
Saturday, Dec. 14, 11am-5pm
at Jack London Square, Oakland, CA
For directions, click here
Free entry + dog friendly!

at Long Beach Veteran's Stadium
4901 E. Conant Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90808
Early admission, 5:30am - 6:30am $12
admission 6:30am - 2pm $6
kids under 12 free!


 Let me know your favorites in the comments below so I can share them here next time!

Happy hunting!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inspired Design: Sophisti-kids

 Inspiration and ideas are the only legal things you can take home from a designer showcase house...that and maybe a sudden urge to play the lottery...

And this year, after visiting the designer showcase house at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, my imaginary Kate Spade suitcase was overflowing.

The kid's room, interpreted by designer Airen Holbrook for Eric Brand furnishings and inspired by her muse, Jim Henson, was one of the best.

Three large sculptural lights hung over a gorgeous, sturdy table in the center of the room--perfect for petite picassos and the occasional study sesh.

Two upholstered twin beds were in situated in the room on opposing walls. I loved the "day bed" look that --with a change of comforters could easily grow up with the kids. Storage drawers on the bottom were a thoughtful touch. On the wall, the designer used a light box to create a Mondrian-style mural a'la Sesame Street.

Who's your favorite? Bert or Ernie?


The bed across the room was situated against walls that had been hand painted to look like paneling. Cool, clever, cheap & chic. Love this idea!


Puzzle-piece mirrors reflected the hand painted "wall paper" --and don't miss the cool hanging rope lights against the navy blue wall. Nautical without going overboard (pun intended...).


Colors, fabrics and furniture in the room had a sophisticated edge, but the over all look was pure whimsy and fun. Creativity reigned.

On the entry area to the rooms, walls were again covered with pencil sketching --totally cool. Although it would make it hard to explain to the kids why they weren't allowed to join in...

Another economical solution perfect for almost any room -and well suited to rental properties as well!


On a very simple mirror, some clever soul had applied the words to Kermit's favorite song...this has weekend project written all over it -literally. 


Why do they have to grow up so fast?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Style File: Hang It Up!



Last July, when I revealed my newly renovated 1978 Tanker desk, one of the things friends mentioned most was the way I had hung my photos in the background!

Since the desk fits snugly inside a 'nook' in our front room, it was easy to string twine from wall to wall and hang photos from mini clothespins in between.

Without a nook-like space, this photo hanging technique would be tricky to achieve --until now.

I was browsing a recent Paper Source catalog when I came across HangIt! I was like, hey! That's my nook idea --except somebody else is getting the million dollars...but I digress...

Taking the high road, this cool gadget ($24.95), "provides five clotheslines for you to hang photos, memos, cards and more...create an inspiring display. Can be used vertically or horizontally." 

Just in time for the holiday cards!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Pintastic! Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods


 Happy 2nd Anniversary to This American Home!

I thought I would celebrate and kick off the most festive month of the year with a new blog category tenatively entitled, Pintastic!

The gist: to feature stories and ideas from my Pinterest  boards that are getting the most re-pins.

If you haven't visited the online inspiration site yet, I highly recommend checking it out; and if you're already a pinner yourself, you know the zippy feeling you get when a like-minded soul re-pins something from your collection. A kind of a cosmic high-five!

Anyway, for the past few weeks, chocolate covered pretzel rods have really been feeling the love.


Ironically, the photos and the post which I wrote back in June of 2012, were inspired by a recipe I had seen on Pinterest in the first place.

I wanted to contribute to a local bake sale with something special. But easy. Easy and special. And cute, did I mention, cute?

Enter the chocolate covered pretzel rods.
After reading through several recipes, I settled upon a hybrid process of my own -and it worked! In fact, I highly recommend it! 

Please feel free to pin these photos onto your own Pinterest boards and follow me on the site at BonHome!

 If you're a pinner, leave your information in the comments below and I'll follow you too!

 

Ingredients
Bag of pretzel rods
semi sweet chocolate chips
sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, or crushed candy bars
cookie sheets lined with wax paper or aluminum foil
Here is the process I used:
1.  Pour about  2 cups of chocolate chips into a bowl and microwave on high in 30 second intervals. Stir chocolate every 30 seconds until almost smooth. There should be a few partially melted chips remaining. Careful not  to overheat and burn the chocolate.  If the chips do overheat the chocolate will not be as easy to work with -and you won't get the desired  results (or at least that is what several other recipes warned. I was so paranoid of burning the chips I probably erred on the side of under-heating).
You may need to melt more chocolate, but I think by working in smaller amounts you have less risk of  heating more than you need and wasting chocolate! Sacrilege!

2.  Next,  hold a pretzel rod over the bowl of chocolate and, using a spoon, pour/cover 3/4 of the rod completely (leaving 1/4 of the rod uncovered  for gripping).
3.  Then tap the rod with the spoon and shake off excess chocolate back into the bowl.
4.  Next over the cookie sheet lined with wax paper or aluminum foil, shake sprinkles over the chocolaty part of the pretzel. Turn the rod to get a nice, even coverage. Some recipes suggested rolling the rods in the sprinkles or crushed candy bar bits, but I liked the way this turned out -and it prevented the melted chocolate from getting mixed up in all of the sprinkles. I did end up wasting a lot of sprinkles using this method, so if anyone has a better idea I would love to hear it!

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