Favorite Things Friday – last minute cuteness

I start my Christmas shopping in September because I know I’m going to run out of time. However, as it gets closer to the 25th I start freaking out that I’m not going to have enough little treats for the kids and my DH to open and usually make a trip to the dollar bins at Target 🙂

This year, Pottery Barn has come out with some super cute stocking stuffers and I had to make the babysitter stay late so I could rush over to the mall with the other thousands of shoppers. Oh, Tysons Corner friend & foe.

This Safe Bank will be going in my DH’s stocking so he can save up for our next anniversary trip far, far away from the maddening crowd.

And this Snail Tape Measure I will keep tucked away with me as I got to my design meetings. Who wants a big, old yellow plastic tape measure when you can have a silver snail?

We certainly don’t need these Nutcrackers from Antique Farmhouse and in fact we have never cracked a walnut in our home before, but I think they are so pretty to have out displayed somewhere. Maybe in a cute mason jar or silver tumbler or a console.

Filigree Glass Box also from Farmhouse. Super vintage & stylish for any room, any surface.

I love you little Egg Crates from Anthropologie.

Wooden Tic Tac Toe from Napa Style! Now how to keep those pieces from getting lost?

Here’s to stuffing those stockings!









…Building Series – Buildling a Business

If you are thinking about building a business or have started your own little business, you know it’s taken a good 20/30/40 years to prepare you for what you are embarking on. You have history and practice and observation on your side.

I grew up watching my dad design and hand-make jewelry. My sister and I would watch him put those funny magnifying jewelers glasses on, work with long, skinny tweezers twisting and molding metal wire. He’d sink the soldered piece in the acid that made a “szzzzz” sound, slosh it around in a mason jar of water and then heat the piece again with his jeweler’s torch. He worked with his hands to create amazing pieces and we wear them all the time. You have no idea the jewelry boxes and hat boxes and trunks my sister & mom have filled with his pieces.

(This is my daughter designing with Papa. Funny how it reminds me of me at his side.)

I went to college, majored in English and was going to write books. Unfortunately, that doesn’t pay the rent until you are actually published.

Then I got a job. Marketing. In a design firm and it was a perfect fit for me. Images, photo shoots, writing, graphics. Kinda what I find myself doing 50% of the time at Blue Egg Brown Nest. Who knew how handy my background would come in when I used to ride that metro into work day in and day out. Eating my lunch at Lafeyette Park, staring at the the White House from my park bench.

Then came a waiting period in my life when I started trying to have a baby. God said no for many years. And I said yes to my own pottery studio in my basement, with wheel & kiln & hand-made glazes. It always felt natural to work with my hands and get messy.

(1 month after Reid was born. I just couldn’t help myself!)

I don’t mean to sound self-indulgent. I recount my past to discuss my present. When I look back it really feels like I was building levels and layers to my story and to my current business. There are things that I will try and accomplish now (or at least take the risk of trying) that I would not have if I did not have that framework underneath me. The writing, the marketing, the designing, etc. I didn’t just happen on furniture painting and blogging. I had no budget for pieces and experimented on 8 kitchen chairs off Craigslist. The necessity of needing furniture turned into wanting it all around me! And as a sidebar, I never read a blog in my life before starting my own! (shhhhhhh)

That is my story.

Many of you have asked me how to grow a business or get started or how did I get started. It wasn’t one thing that led me here. It was many things and many more things and right now it works for me. In a few years it may not work. Who knows. If I were able to share any advice I would say reflect on the things you’ve done & built & may be good at or curious about. I don’t really believe the message that you can do anything you set your mind to. I find it misleading. Yes, perhaps you could physically and/or mentally do it. But, would it be right for you? Would it be organic and natural for you? Would you be happy or good at it? Would it be fruitful? Would it end up frustrating you in the end and be unsatisfying. I do believe God has a plan for all of us, but he doesn’t show us the full hand of cards all at once. He reveals it slowly over a lifetime and if we are diligent and listen close enough we will hear & understand…maybe.



…Building Series – Building a Home. Interiors.

Building a home can be so much fun because you get to choose every faucet, door handle, hinge, crown molding design, window, door, etc. Actually, it can be really hard and exhausting. When we built our first home in 2008 I had no idea what I was doing. I knew what I liked, I did my research by collecting about a billion design magazines and counseling with the Bensten women that had done this before. I remember agonizing over the kitchen faucet for days before deciding. Then once I did that decisions came a bit more easy.

If you are renovating or building as I know many of you are or will be in the future, do your homework and make your binder of every space that you love. Colors, layouts, windows. Another important tip is to think about the furniture that you want in your space and how you will lay it out. Where will the couch go? The flatscreen? Sounds a bit trivial, but if you don’t leave a large, blank wall between some windows you will have no place to watch TV. If you don’t put a wall there then you have no place to center your grandmother’s console on. Very important stuff.

When choosing paint colors, you need samples. Benjamin Moore now makes 18×18 inch square paint swatches that you can buy and literally hold up to your wall to get an idea of what color you want. Much easier and less messy than putting paint from a small jar on your wall.

Think about your ceiling height – what I learned was most important. And your window transoms because whether you notice during construction or not, the amount of light that you created with your window choice will make a huge difference in that space. We agonized over these windows by, again, doing our research. I must have taken photos of every new build house in Arlington!

A shiny new floor. Don’t remember what that looks like anymore as my 100lb chocolate lab has scratched mine up! Make your floor guy/gal show you stain samples in front of you and then decide. We went with a dark Jacobean mixed with black. Oh, and NEVER try to sand & stain your floors yourself. DH and I did that and it’s a messy disaster.

I wanted a cute throw back tile for the jack and jill bathroom that we designed for the upstairs. Loved this marble mosaic, which you see a lot in bathroom magazines. It’s a bit playful so I wouldn’t recommend it for a master bath, but certainly a guest or secondary bathroom.

Love a traverine for the master bath. Used it in this first house and the home we are in now. You can pick large or small tiles all in Travertine. Looks elegant.

I’ve walked a few homes with my FIL, a builder himself & residential developer, and I’ve heard him say you can tell a well-detailed house by it’s trim. A mantel, wainscoting in the bathroom, built in shelves. They can be expensive and maybe you don’t do them right away, but they will always make a home looked finished.

I think no matter what kind of build you are doing, you will want french doors that lead…somewhere. They let in so much light and connect the interior with the great outdoors.

Lastly, when you decide to put that house that you spend 8 long months building and even more designing, try to make sure you don’t list it right before the housing meltdown as we did.

In spite of the heartburn, we were blessed yet again with the sale of our first build and our now dear friends that moved in across the street.

(Meanwhile, this is what was happening during the build…..

I was growing a little Fiona in my belly. Ironically, I was growing a Reid during our next build.)

Question for Brent the Builder? Post and he’ll answer!