Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ready, Set, Go

Sleep in, we don't open until 10!

Lots of new items for perfect and unusual gift-giving.

Turquoise cross ornament, Belsnickle Santa, Wire Mesh Crown

Forest Luminaire, Vintage Style Paintings, Sleep With Dogs T Shirts

Silhouette Pill Box, Sequin Choker Scarf, French Beret

other items available online at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Xmas Project #1

There has got to be something wrong with someone who comes up with an idea that is fit for craft day at the Funny Farm. That someone would be me.

We have had this seven foot black tree in the store for some time now. It was in my house last year for a magazine shoot; I used it last Christmas for our Wendy Addison ornaments, and this year we used it at Halloween for our furry owls:

It has a 12" plywood base and is made of heavy wire strands wrapped in paper. We have sold these in many sizes but this was the biggest we carried. As it sat in the storage room last month, I had an idea to use it for my Scandinavian Christmas room: I'm going to wrap it in yarn!

As I sat at home for four nights, painting it first and then wrapping and wrapping, hot gluing and cutting, I couldn't help but think, "What possesses me to do such things?" I haven't an answer to that but I know I have had it all my life. I remember as a teenager covering my bedroom ceiling with aluminum foil (no comment) and as a young adult I sewed 200 pearls perfectly spaced over a black sweatshirt. I have painted and rigged and crafted so many things I have tools for nearly everything, but this project- well something was so right and yet so wrong about it.

I will say, I LOVE IT! And I may take it home with me and leave it up 365! And for you who are not so anal-retentive, a simple fallen branch 18" or so would do just fine used in a large urn. Also, do your own version: Use torn cotton strips with frayed edges, or burlap or lace or fringed trim or newsprint strips.... the possibilities are endless. And of course, there is yarn nowadays in every color and texture imaginable. After wrapping with yarn I shoved it in my tiny office and added my personal collection of vintage ornaments as well as many others we currently have for sale in the store. Take a look:

Many shops have trees similar to this now; made of wire, wrapped in paper. Look for something twig like, open and flexible. The one down-side to using an actual branch from Mother Nature is that it will not move with you. A wire base is much easier to manipulate as you turn, twist and wrap these branches. Using a real branch, you will be doing all the turning and your arm might fall off.

I started with the limbs first and hot glued a small amount at the base to hold the yarn taught as I wrapped outward. If the limb is especially long, add another drop of glue half way up, but only if you feel you need it to stay on course. One inch from the tip, I added another drop of glue and wrapped the end tightly. Let it cool just a second so you can use your hands to scrunch the yarn into the glue and get a tight end. You will burn yourself a time or two so be ready! I used the tip of my glue gun a lot to secure the loose ends into the glue. After the limbs are done wrap the trunk. Top to bottom, bottom to top, doesn't matter.

You will get your rhythm down after a few tries and know how tight to pull the yarn, if you need to cut a strand off at a time or not and when and where to glue it for security. I had thought I would smear Elmer's on the entire branch and just wrap but hot glue is made for this! And gluing only occasionally keeps it soft to the touch. Keep turning and feeling the branch so you know your yarn is covering it perfectly with no gaps. After you are finished, use the glue gun to go back in and tighten the ends or wrap smaller pieces here and there at the joints to cover some exposed areas. Voila!

And of course I had to stay true to my love of a neutral palette by attaching all ornaments in silver, mercury, clear, ivory, and gold. Years ago on Martha Stewart, she featured a segment with one of her editors who had a fabulous Christmas tree. He took the time to add 3 inches of thin silver wire to each ornament which enabled him to wrap each one securely on the tree branch without an ugly Xmas hook showing. This gets the top of the ornament right up to the branch, holds it in place (so much so you could cover the tree with a sheet and store it away for a year!) or it allows you to just pull the ornament and let the wire unravel when you take it down. I also took the time to super glue the ornament top to the bulb for long-lasting security; especially the older ornaments that I love and do not want falling apart.

The staff kept asking if I was going to sell this so I decided I might as well add up the cost of materials and my time and see what happens. If it doesn't sell, it will certainly get a conversation started in the store.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Studio Apartment

Last week, I stumbled upon some photographs of a studio apartment I lived in from 1994-1998. These made me smile because of the style I was into at the time. This decor was influenced by the recent release of the 1994 movie Legends of the Fall. When I saw Anthony Hopkins in his bear skin coat, standing on the porch of his rustic log cabin and then inside was fine china and polished silver candlesticks (and Brad Pitt!!)- well, it erased everything. I had to use it for my new abode.

These pictures were taken before a dinner party for 10 girlfriends
but the long table was my office. A computer was usually on it and the
side cabinet had my printer and all other office supplies.

I was living in a large, two bedroom rental house before this, but it was one of those houses that just never felt right. No matter how I decorated it, I could never find it's soul so I was ready to move again. I was still working as a stylist and had a job on location at this apartment complex shooting a video for some company. The minute I walked into this little, 575 sf studio, I said, "I could live here." The current tenant was a friend I knew from church and she was engaged and moving soon. Within a year, it was my new home.

The horrible vertical blinds came down over the big patio window and I
added these huge, dark blue velvet curtains.
I bought the burgundy velvet loveseat site unseen via a Spiegel catalog!

I especially loved the vaulted ceiling which helped open up the small apartment and make it feel more loft-like. I also knew I would have to organize everything I owned to fit into this place. (A massive estate sale was in order at the old house.) My first step was to paint the white walls which I was not into then. I still remember this wall color. I went to the local paint store and the paint mixer and I worked on the color until it was just right. It was the most wonderful grey-lavender color. It set the tone for the entire apartment. (Yes, I was renting but I didn't care to lose my deposit. I had to paint the place!) Then on to more details:

It also had a skylight over the bed which I hated so I covered it with
a vintage window frame backed with cloud pictures. My only regret
was not scraping off the cottage-cheese ceiling. (Which I have done before!)

I bought the ugly wall unit for all the stuff: TV, books, collections, etc.
Why I didn't find something antique, I do not know.
Probably because this was only about $300 for the 8' feet of shelving.

I painted the kitchen a golden yellow and covered the standard Formica cabinets
with white wood-grain contact paper! I hung a giant wagon wheel over the
funky kitchen island (which held everything from kitchen utensils to my tools)
and hung pots, pans and dried flowers on it.

It had wall to wall carpet but I covered it with a rosy, 10' x 12' vintage rug.

The bathroom had many transformations: I actually wallpapered over the
entire mirror once because it was so suburban! I just double-sticked
another funky mirror over that. Later for this, I had a large chippy frame
made to go over the edges.

I loved this bathroom because it has a stacked
washer and dryer next to the shower. Warm towels!

I used dark wood furniture, some leather, wicker, old floral, ethnic textiles and random paintings and prints. (Out of Africa mixed in here too!) I loved this little place and even think of moving back there some day to simplify my life. Thanks to a very long closet and small storage unit in the attached garage below, it served me just fine until I grew up and bought my first home. I have always said I could live most anywhere because for me, its all about the stuff, just give me an empty canvas.

Maybe some day I'll find the pictures of my former loft and retro apartment to share. Yes... retro!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Star is Born

The long awaited cover; Holiday with Matthew Mead.

If you are a member of the blog world (read 'em, watch 'em, fan of them) then to tell you of a new magazine that has hit the air is not news. But if you are not a blog stalker, let me tell you about someone you'll need to know, Matthew Mead.

Picture this: A stylish person you have watched in the pages of a magazine for about 20 years. You have read his name here and there, you have seen him on TV talking of his collections, you know he styles, he decorates, he cooks, he shoots... he is a full-on media wonderment, and his name is not Martha Stewart (because he is more approachable than that.) He is one of us. His talent may far exceed any of ours, but he is as real and down to earth as you can get. Heck, I even have his cell phone number!

Fast forward to May 2010 and I am meeting Matthew for the first time (which I wrote about here) and I am hearing about a new magazine he is working on. Now mind you, this is more than just something he is "working on". He IS the magazine. He and his wife Jenny (and a staff of few) researched, hunted, planned, designed, shot, complied, AND PAID FOR IT ALL with very little advertising money. Welcome to the world of Self-Publishing. It takes some real kahunas to self-publish, and no, he did not do it via LuLu, he found a real, honest-to-God offset printer in his home town! (That alone is worth these kudos.)

After months of hearing about the process and donating a project to the cause (shown below), I held the issue in my hands two hours ago. I had seen a few online teasers here and there but nothing prepared me for the actually bound copy. I flipped quickly and took in the overall fabulousness and then ran to my office to call and congratulate him where I actually found myself weeping as I left him a message! I felt I was holding a newborn baby, because in actuality, I was. This delivery took much more than nine months but the outcome was just as emotional.

First, The cover: Bold and simple and certainly the magazine I want on the top of the stack.

Second, you'll love how it feels. He got the paper stock just right. No glossy pages here but soft and sturdy, natural matte finish. (Think Anthropologie catalogs but better!)

Third, The smell. That's right- it smells like a fine printed piece because it is. Hot off the press.

Fourth: Contents. Every article and color category is carefully placed. Ideas, food, projects, decor and people; this has it all.

Fifth: Style. It is filled with the kind of beautiful photography, calligraphy and graphic design we have been starving for. This is the kind of magazine you will go back to over and over. This is the one we will curl up on the sofa with to study and save. Grab your magnifying glass and a beverage and get ready.

Sixth: ONLY WE HAVE IT IN Kansas City!!!
This magazine can not be found on the newsstands. If you live out of town buy it here or if you are local, come into the store for your copy. I recommend getting one soon because they will be gone. Here is a sampling:

His new magazine is filled with every genre of design and grouped in
pertinent colors.
From a green story, above... a blue story with one of many How-To ideas.

Another story on whites.

I'm loving this modern mix. One of many home decor images inside.

My contribution to the magazine above and below. My little
project case filled with scrappy treasures.

I took 'cut and paste' to a whole new level with these trees.

Even this spread on a Pink Cottage Christmas fits right in.

... and great lifestyle pictures of families, couples and children.

One of Matthew's passions: beautiful food and wonderful recipes.

I AM LOVING this page shot with old calligraphy. An opening page to
an incredible section on perfect Christmas cookies.

The graphic design touches are outstanding throughout.

The above is just a tease. There are 146 pages of pure magic.

To all involved, a huge Christmas THANK YOU
and job well done. BE PROUD.

Matthew Mead: Founder, Creative Director, Editor in Chief, Stylist, Photographer
Jennifer Mead: Managing Editor, Photographer
Stacy Wiley: Graphic Designer, Art Director
Linda MacDonald: Executive Editor,
Lisa Bisson & Lisa Smith: Design Assistants (floral and food)
Sarah Egge: Senior Writer
Stephanie Nielson: Contributing Lifestyle Editor

Monday, November 08, 2010

Friday, November 05, 2010

Still Unwrapping Christmas

Frosted glass Origami Reindeer Lamp. Amazing isn't it?
Perfect for the modern Xmas decor.

Despite revealing our Holiday merchandise a week ago, new and old items are still arriving daily. Lucky for me, more Christmas antiques are finally making an appearance at my favorite haunts so I am gathering those up for you as well.

Its odd to walk around the store and see so many sparkling things. I hear the customers linger a little longer and nearly everyone talks about how much there is to see and how once-around the store is not enough. Just now, someone actually said, "Wow, you really do change things up! Do you hire people to do all this or do you guys do it all?" Ha- I wish! (Can retailers do that? Is that allowed??!!)

Wander through and see what's new but you simple MUST come in.

One of our many frosted houses.

My new favorite are these mercury ornaments with grey flocking.

I scored this wad 'o tree in Round Top. Hands down my favorite item I found
there last Spring. Dirty, tattered, sparkling...
It sold in 10 minutes.

Another favorite but nearly sold out, mercury initials.

Again, for the modern home, clean & graphic glittering houses.

A sparkling nativity surrounded by a vintage iron grate.

I had to paint the cello and another banner for our front window.

A new paper chandelier with endless possibilities. These come with
fire-treated paper pages but we added some old photographs too.
A single bulb hangs down the center.

Ooh, la-la, a satin ruffled scarf hangs on our mannequins
with layers of vintage beads.

A stunning XL nativity that looks like carved bisque.

I am on a roll: Collecting vintage coverlets for our Scandinavian room.
Crochet, Candlewick, Chenille, Matelasse...

Paper-pulp hanging dolly designed by Nicol Sayre.
(We have her Angels and Santas too!)

One of our many antique religious prints.

My collection of grain sacks finally made into pillows.

And not to forget that Thanksgiving comes first, a feathery owl.

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New items being added online this coming week.