Sunday, April 26, 2015

Julie Maida's "Dear Moms, Here's Why I Don't Care If You Work"

A friend recently shared a great article by Julie Maida, "Dear Moms, Here's Why I Don't Care If You Work"...I love the message in this piece.  I have written before about the mystery around all the supposed 'Mommy Wars' and why there seems to be so much judgement, cattiness, righteousness, etc.  Fortunately, I have to say, I haven't experienced this so much personally, in my little village of Mom friends, but when you peruse various articles online, this theme pops up a lot.  I included a few favorite quotations as well as a link to her article below...

Dear Moms, Here’s Why I Don’t Care If You Work

By Julie Maida (Huffington Post)
 April 17, 2015

"I understand, appreciate, and accept that the decisions you make for your family have nothing to do with me. Your life is not mine to dictate or judge, and how you live it is none of my business. I respect your right to raise your family and live happily however you choose, without my input or assistance."

. . . 

"I care about your thoughts and feelings, and how they impact the choices you make. I know we can learn from each other, especially if we feel and think differently about things -- if we can allow each other the freedom to be genuine. It is absolutely possible for me to honor your perspective and view points, even if I don't share or agree with them."

. . . 

"Because under all the details, labels, and hats we wear -- behind all of the masks and titles -- we're all just scared to death, doing the very best we can, and hoping it's enough."

. . . 

"I care about what matters, and I really don't care about the rest."

- Julie Maida

As I have mentioned before, I believe these apparent 'Mommy Wars' stem from our inevitable insecurities as new Moms. From the very beginning, when our adorable, yummy, soft, cozy, pink, warm baby is delivered into this world, we are at once and forever vulnerable.  Vulnerable to the incessant 'what-ifs' that inevitably arrive with motherhood.  What if I am not feeding her enough? What if she climbs out of the crib? What if she falls down the stairs? What if she chokes on that grape? AND, don't even get me started with what is yet to come....What if she gets in the car with a drunk driver (or drives drunk herself?)  What if she gets her heart broken?  What if she tries that drug?.....The list goes on and on. The worries and concerns are never ending.  And it is all because of LOVE.  All because this little bundle of love suddenly lassos our hearts and tugs on them forever.....

But, unfortunately for some, these insecurities can breed a darker side of human nature: the judgemental, righteous, and catty behavior.  Everyone knows that 'Neighborhood Nelly,' the Mom who somehow always knows everyone's business and is quick to spread negative gossip about others. I am convinced these are the more rare breed of Moms, the most insecure and unhappy.  It's the same psychology that applies to bullies: their insecurity and unhappiness causes mean behavior toward others.  I would like to believe the vast majority of Moms are not in this camp.  Rather, they are happy to acknowledge that we all make mistakes, we do NOT know it all, but we are all trying our best despite our different parenting styles.

As Maida states, "hold absolutely no emotional attachment to your views regarding my personal life choices. I don't care how you feel about my parenting styles, beliefs, what I'm wearing at the bus stop drop off..."

Thank goodness! Because anyone working at our school drop off can attest to my pajama or bed-head appearance on more than one occasion!

But, when it comes to parenthood, we all have much more in common than it may seem.  Certainly, we all have different blessings, circumstances, and challenges.  Yet, for all of us, the stakes are the same: we simply want the best for our children.  Not the best clothing or sports equipment.  We want the best physical, mental, and spiritual health for their well being.  We want the best academic, civic, cultural, athletic, and social experiences and opportunities. And yet, who is to say what is 'best' when it comes to all of this? Just like every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every parenting decision likely has an equal and opposite outcome (pro and con).  Hindsight is always 20/20. The best we can do is to use the information we have in the moment, carefully weigh the pros and cons, and hope we are making the right choices.  And, what if we don't?  Well, sometimes even bad choices can have silver linings in the long run.  Sometimes, seemingly negative experiences can become learning, strength-building, grit-developing opportunities for our children. This is when we look to our faith, family support and love, and community. 

Indeed, these inevitable failures and setbacks are actually good for our children.  They are great character-building rights of passage, but they are still hard for parents to stomach.  I know as my children grow up, I am going to have to work hard to give them proper freedom, to let them make their own choices, etc....This is essential for their authentic selves to develop, their moral compass to evolve, their independence and confidence to thrive.  Yet, the 'what ifs' will continue as time marches on.  I am just thankful to have my village of awesome Moms (both near and far) to help support me through this wild and crazy ride of Mommy-hood.  We can vent our frustrations, commiserate over challenges, and bounce ideas off of each other.  We can offer guidance, share stories, a drink, a laugh, or simply an open mind and heart.  We can show up in our yoga-pants-on-backwards, and laugh with each other, not at each other.  At least, this is the Mom I hope to be to my village ; )

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Centerpieces for our Kentucky Derby Themed School Auction: Photos and Process...

A while back, I posted various inspiration photos for our Derby-themed school auction.

I volunteered to do the table centerpieces, and what a crazy and fun challenge it turned out to be!  I have always enjoyed entertaining, designing tablescapes, arranging flowers, etc., in my home.  BUT, I have never done anything on a larger scale for an event for 300 people with 30 tables!  I have a whole new appreciation for what event planners, designers, and florists, do, on a regular basis.  The amount of planning and preparation required was mind blowing. Thankfully, I had my creative and talented MOM (who used to design flowers for weddings and events) to guide me through the entire process.

I wanted to share what I learned in the process in case anyone else with NO prior experience wants to attempt such a project...There really is a learning curve to this process, so I figure this will be much easier the next time around.

My first challenge was having zero budget, so everything I put together would be a donation.  Nevertheless, I was happy to contribute to our school's largest fundraiser, as our children's education is obviously a top priority, and we are endlessly thankful for the wonderful opportunities our school provides our children each day. Yet, as I was gathering design ideas and doing the math, I concluded that even the most simple tablescapes would add up quickly with thirty tables.  I toyed with using riding boots, vintage trophies, Derby hats, etc., in the tablescape, but sourcing these ideas for so many tables became costly and cumbersome.  So, I settled on doing a red and pink rose arrangement for half of the tables, with an alternative design on the other half.  This would make the arrangement logistics and expenses more reasonable, and create a more interesting room design.  I had already purchased a bunch of faux moss balls on sale from Arhaus around the holidays, so I wanted to incorporate those into the design.  Also, I found gold, silver, and red 11-inch tall pails from Target that were only $3 each, so I thought these would be cute and economical to use.

I found some adorable templates for printables from Jenn Sbranti's blog, Hostess with the Mostess.

I was able to incorporate these templates with some of her other ideas into our design: gold spray-painted horses, little pennants that say win, place, and show, and some cute signs that could be printed and placed into frames for display around the room.

The first step was to come up with a floral design.  My Mom helped to figure out a good number of roses, the length, types of greens to mix in, etc.  My original plan was 12 roses in each, a mix of 7 red/5 hot pink with Salal tips and Variegated Pittosporum for greenery.  I love the color and shape of Salal tips - they are a rich, vibrant green, and they have a wild and organic shape.  In fact, my grandmother apparently used to even gather a large bunch to use as an arrangement on her entry table. The Variegated Pittosporum have a softer green hue with white trim, which makes for a beautiful filler.  The design would be similar to this...

Original design idea with red and pink roses, Salal tips, and a little white flower which I did not end up using...added Variegated Pitt greenery instead.

For the non-floral centerpieces, we came up with this...

The cabana stripe tablecloth (in a decent fabric) was too costly,
so we settled on a chevron runner instead.

I ordered small plastic horses on Amazon and found stemless wine glasses and bud vases at dollar stores and Old Time Pottery and spray painted them all gold.  I printed the win, place, show triangular pennants from Jenn Sbranti's Hostess with the Mostess Blog, cut and glued them to red card stock, and then glued them to the white and red striped straws (just used clear Elmer's school glue).  It was slightly time-consuming, but easy, and the kids could help.

My Mom, Lucia teaching my daughter, Caroline, about flower arranging during our visit to St. Louis over Valentines Day weekend
First step: De-thorning, trimming, hydrating roses and greens

Once greens have been trimmed to approx 10-inch each, placed in small buckets, ready for making the arrangements the next day...

Soaking the Oasis Blocks for 10 min...

I used a lazy susan to rotate and arrange the flowers - much easier.

I tied a wire-edged polka dot ribbon around top to hide the plastic pail liner...

Found these little bud vases at Old Time Pottery and spray painted them gold

Printed these templates from Jenn Sbranti's Hostess with the Mostess Blog, and framed them to use on display tables or bar area at the event.

I was getting nervous that the roses were opening up too much, so I placed them into our small wine room in basement where it was a bit cooler...But, I wasn't sure of the humidity levels, so I moved them to a cool area in our basement instead.

Giant Eagle gave me these wine boxes which were perfect size and shape for transport.

We attached these little hand-made tags to each arrangement so teachers could take them home after the auction.

Each year, the 8th graders help out at the auction and create little 'skits' with costumes and props to auction off each item...(vacations, concerts, dinner parties, etc.)

My husband and I heading to the auction...It was fun to dress up in Derby gear! The women wore all different kinds of fun hats and fascinators...I found mine from a reasonably-priced source, The Original Tree, on Etsy

The following is a summary of the process (please excuse the length and tedious details...I just find it helpful for future reference).

The first step was to order the flowers, greenery, regular oasis blocks, floral food, etc., and purchase all of the supplies needed for the project.  Who knew there are about 100 different varieties of roses to choose from, each with varying opening abilities, diameters, shades, color tones, etc.  Luckily, my Mom had a lot of experience working with roses, so she advised me on which varieties to order.  The red 'Freedom' rose and the pink 'Sweet Unique' rose.  Yet, she warned me that a single variety can sometimes vary depending on time of year and its origination.  

For supplies, you need three different sizes of buckets: large 5-gallon from Home Depot for the initial rose trimming/hydration process, medium oval sized for hydrating the greens, and small 10-inch high buckets for the measured/trimmed pieces used for the arrangements.  Plus, you need a rose (thorn) stripper, a trimmer, ruler, wired 1.5 inch ribbon to tie around pails, plastic bags to cover each arrangement and protect from cold, and spray bottle.  Finally, she advised that I collect several empty wine boxes for transport.  Luckily, my local Giant Eagle store graciously gave me several of their boxes which were the perfect size and shape for transporting them to the event.

Based on the timing of the event, the floral supply store suggested I pick up the flowers on Wednesday so the flowers would have time to hydrate and open up.  I was slightly alarmed when I brought them home and noticed they were already opening up more than I expected.  I was a bit concerned they would be too open by Saturday.  Plus, I was hoping for a deeper hot pink, but the roses were more of a pale pink color.  So, I decided to run to Costco and purchase some hot pink roses.  So, I ended up with 16 roses in each: 7 red/4 hot pink/5 light pink.  I am so glad I did, as the 3 shades of roses created a more interesting arrangement.

Here is a timeline for the process:

Wednesday before (Sat evening) event: Flower pick-up and conditioning...(3-4 hours)

a) Pick up flowers from floral supply.
b) Prepare large and medium buckets with Floralife food and water.
c) Use rose stripper to strip thorns and trim 2 inches off each rose, place into buckets. Note > once you trim a flower, you have 10 seconds to place in water, otherwise the stem will not efficiently soak up the water.
d) Trim 1-2 inches of greens and place into buckets with Floralife water.
e) Place buckets in good light, warmer place to encourage opening. Cooler place to slow down opening.

Thursday: (3-4 hours)

a) Run to Costco to pick up hot pink roses (3 bunches of 24-count)
b) Add a little more water to buckets to ensure proper hydration.
c) Spray roses with water
d) Trim the bottom corners of oasis blocks so that approx 2 inches of oasis sticks up above pail.  Note > Once they are soaked with water, they will be heavy and sink down lower than when dry.  Need oasis to stick up above pail so you can stick roses in sides for horizontal (full) arrangement shape.
e) Fit plastic bags into pails, secured with rubber bands to ensure no leakage.
f) Trim greenery into workable pieces so you know how MANY you have to work with (to spread evenly throughout arrangements) AND to make the process of arrangement the next day more efficient.  In my case, I trimmed the Salal tips and Variegated Pitt greens about 9-10 inches long each, and used 13 Salal stems in each arrangement.  I used the Variegated Pitt as filler 

Friday: (6 hours) 

a) Prepare Floralife water into large pitcher and pour 3-4 inches in bottom of each pail. (Note, I lined each pail with a plastic bag and rubber band around top to ensure no leaking)
b) Clean kitchen sink and prepare a big 'bath' of Floralife water to soak the oases. 
c) Place Oasis blocks into water, do NOT submerge, let it sink in gradually. The word 'oasis' should be facing up. Can soak 6 at a time, let soak for 10 min.
d) Place Oasis into pail with about 1 inch showing over top of pail.
e) Start arranging greens: 7 jetting out, some parallel to table to form horizontal and vertical shape.
f) Next measure 8-9 inch and trim roses and add to arrangement (horizontal and vertical shape).
e) Fill in with more greens (total 13 salal in each arrangement and 6 or so Variegated Pitt for filler)
f) Cut and tie wired polka-dot ribbon around top of each pail to hide the plastic liner bag at top.
g) Spray roses with water.  The key is to keep the flowers well hydrated, inside and out.

Saturday morning: (3 hours)

a) Cover each arrangement with plastic bag to protect from cold
b) Transport roses to venue
c) Setup tablescapes.
d) Spray roses with another round of water
e) Relax

Looking back, although it was a lot of planning and preparatory work, it was a huge learning experience, a fun way to keep my creative juices flowing, and all for a great cause (to raise funds for our school), so I was happy with how it all turned out.  I hope you find some good tips to use for your own table scape projects!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bahamas Chic Retreat w Splashes of Orange...

Last fall, I fell in love with orange accents when I read the November 2014 House Beautiful feature, "An Old-Fashioned House Gets a Dose of Seaside Glamour" ...a Bahamas home designed by Amanda Lindroth.  Photography by Thomas Loof.

There are so many fun and whimsical accents, overflowing with interesting textural detail and pops of bold color.  Also, I love the way the home is sourced with both low and high end pieces.

The link below provides HB's interview with designer, Amanda Lindroth, on the transformation of this beautiful home.

This is my favorite photo of the house. The bold orange against the crisp white is brilliant...."Lindroth gave the exterior a showstopping personality with big splashes of bold orange. Bench in Sherwin-Williams's Knockout Orange. Pillows in a Link Outdoor canvas. Awning fabric, Sattler."

According to Lindroth, when you enter the foyer, "you've been transported to the tropical splendor of a resort...with a fantasy element, a sense of theatre, like a stage set." Trelliswork, mirror, and demilune table were designed by Philippe Le Manach of Accents of France and painted in Benjamin Moore's Spring Break. The terracotta floor tiles were painted in BM's Decorators White and Bath Salts.

The rich textures offered by the patterned sea grass rug and rattan blinds paired with the cotton panels and upholstery give an airy, beachy vibe.  The funky vintage-y arm chairs mix well with both contemporary and traditional furniture styles.  

Love the mix of styles here with the elaborate mirror from Christopher Hodsoll hanging above the Georgian-style side table by English Georgian America. The fretwork chair provides a nice graphic punch under the quirky mix of artwork.

If I could just move into this cozy room and live here forever, I would! This upstairs TV room is covered in Phillip Jeffries's Driftwood grass cloth, trimmed with grosgrain ribbon. The lovely series of maps are matted in an orangey-red with (bamboo?) frames for a colorful, graphic statement.  Finally, what room would be complete without that touch of animal print underfoot?  The mix of patterns work since she paired the large-scale stripe with a small-scale leopard print. 

"Vintage mirrors framed in stick rattan line the bedroom hallway, creating the illusion of windows."  Large scale mirrors are often used to reflect light in an otherwise dark space. Also, it seems she used orange painted frames and wall trim to weave the same cheerful color used often throughout the home.

I absolutely LOVE her use of the faux-bois Chene wallpaper from Nobilis to give this room a warm, cozy vibe.  She seems to incorporate at least one organic texture in every room (rattan, wood-look in this case, sea grass, bamboo, etc) which connects the interiors to its surrounding natural exterior beauty.  Also, love her orange/blue color combo and bold graphic patterns in this room.

"A Ballard Designs banquette, Ikea Docksta table, and Circa Who fretwork chairs offer ample seating in the breakfast room."  Again, I love the way she incorporates both high and low-end sources into her designs. 

"Stripes galore for the young boys' bedroom: Phillip Jeffries's Island Raffia wallcovering, Matouk bed linens, and Dash & Albert rugs.  Love the indigos, navy blues, pop of reddish orange all mixed with natural elements.

"Spicy orange energizes the master bedroom. China Seas' Lysette linen covers the walls, and the headboard is upholstered in a Norbar canvas. Meridian bed linens, Matouk. Hamilton table, Bunny Williams" the simplicity of the color palette: bright and cheerful orange mixed with crisp white.

"Pagoda mirrors and Serena & Lily dhurries give a little jolt to the master bath. Kohler tub with Waterworks fittings."

"The veranda outside the bedrooms serves as an outdoor room. "It has a beautiful view of the entire property." Lindroth says. "And it's a great place for the two young boys to take a nap on the vintage French daybeds." The sea grass wingback armchairs are from Pottery Barn, and the kilim rugs are from Home Decorators Collection. Hobe Sound lanterns by Oomph in Sherwin-Williams's Knockout Orange. Ceiling fans, Nassau Glass Company"

Pillows in Pine Cone Hill fabrics wake up a veranda daybed.
"Pillows in Pine Cone Hill fabrics wake up a veranda daybed."

"Lush greenery provides privacy for the pool area."

"A twilight view of the double gallery side of the house, where designer Amanda Lindroth made full use of outdoor space."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lively Orange Bookshelves for Our Basement?

We are painting our basement built-in bookshelves, and I am thinking of color-matching the shelves to the current cream wall color OR a soft taupe color  (BM Greenbrier Beige, BM Bennington Gray?) with a bold orange for the interior for a splash of color...

Now, I just have to pick the paint color. Always a fun task! I am looking for a darker red-orange versus the lighter citrus-y orange hues. I am considering FB Charlotte's Locks 268, **SW Obstinate Orange, **SW Invigorate, SW Knockout Orange, SW Energetic Orange, BM Orange Blossom, BM Racing Orange 2169-10,  BM Rumba Orange, BM Dark Salmon, BM Pumpkin Cream 2168-20, BM Orange Nectar, BM Outrageous Orange, BM Orange Parrot, ** BM Festive Orange, BM Calypso Orange (too light), BM Orange Burst, BM Electric Orange, etc. but we shall see. (BM Corlsbud Canyon and SW Determined Orange are also very popular, more subdued oranges)...

Laurel Bern Interiors - An attempt to color-match the Hermes orange...

The following is a link to Laurel Bern Interiors Blog w some great examples or orange paint colors.

The first photo below is my favorite by far! I love the wonderful mix of bold colors with the lush grass green velvet sofa, slate blue walls, orange bookshelves, and large-scale pattern hide rug.  I also love the overall mix of traditional and modern textures and silhouettes. So many fantastic elements in this room!

Here are a few inspiration photos...

Chicago Home and Garden

Relish Small Pleasure

Decorating Ideas. Subtle American Patriotic Style Interior Living Space Design Ideas Featuring Vintage Blue Upholstered Armchairs with Orange Cushions, Twin Stainless Round Glass Top Side Tables, Ruby Red Back Paneling Wall Built-In Bookcases and Art Painting Centerpiece Fireplace Mantel Decoration. 4th of July American Patriotic Interior Decorations

Katie Ridder

Amy Cuker

Andrika King

Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens

Beverly Field

CMC Design Studio

Erin Sander Design

Photographer John Bedell

This Old House - Behr's Startling Orange

Kay Douglass

Real Simple

Lilly Bunn Interiors