Monday, September 29, 2014

Home Office Redo

Not every room in our house got a huge makeover. Some just needed a small tweak, like The Hubby's office. 

Mostly, his wing chair and ottoman were in need of a freshening-up. They have nice lines and are well made, but the blue velvet was all worn off, and the overall look was sad and old:

Also, the light-colored carpet had taken a beating over the years and was permanently stained. So we picked a lively blue stripe (that's Roosevelt, our cat, giving his opinion on the fabric):

And we replaced the pale carpet with a more practical medium gray (which we also used in the living room):

Some fresh white paint on the ceiling, and that's it! Another room complete.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Happy Birthday to Two Lovely Gals

 Over the weekend, we celebrated the birthday of Lovely Daughter #1:

 (Happy birthday, darling daughter! May you celebrate many, many more.)

But we also celebrated the birthday of another girl in the family--her cat, "Miss Olivia Wilde," who turned one year old. This is what Olivia looked like when LD #1 first saw her:

Her mother, a feral neighborhood cat, gave birth to three female kittens under the back porch at my daughter's house. We trapped and spayed them all. (LD#1 caught them in humane traps using Kentucky Fried Chicken as bait.) Momma was released back to the neighborhood cat colony because feral adult cats can't be tamed. Two of the kittens were given to "kitten handlers" to gentle them down for domestic life. LD#1 kept this third cutie for her own. 

For the first two months after we captured her, Olivia lived at our house until our daughter's travel and med-school schedule settled down. The kitten's "safe place" was a large cage, from which she would conduct small explorations of our family room before retreating to her beloved blue-polka-dot blankie (seen in the photo, below):

She grew up quickly. Here she is, checking out our powder room, before the renovation:

 She was so little!

After she moved permanently to our daughter's house, she quickly settled in. She sometimes helped LD#1 with her med-school homework:

Olivia got used to wearing a collar and bell. The polka-dot blankie is still very much a part of her life:

And here she is, all grown up and one year old:

Happy birthday, Miss Olivia Wilde! May you celebrate many, many more, too!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dog Adoptions...With Benefits

I love volunteering at the dog adoption held at my local park. I get to hang out with one-eyed floofy cuties:

And natty, tri-colored gentlemen:

And the occasional "we-think-it's-a-purebred" (this guy's a standard-sized Manchester Terrier):

 Sometimes they have so much fun, the dogs konk out for a while:

Check out those blond eyelashes!:

And sometimes the occasional celebrity drops by. This is Los Angeles, after all:

(That's Channing Tatum, who dropped by with his wife to say Hello to the pups.)

Celebrity spotting: the extra benefit of being an L.A. volunteer!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Berry Bounty

Most of the country is turning cool, thinking about Halloween, and pulling sweaters out of the back of the closet.

Here in Los Angeles, it's summery-warm yet, and for some magical reason, the local farmers' markets are still selling fresh berries:

 Is it through some sort of witchcraft or alchemy? I don't know.

I just know I like them sprinkled lightly with sugar.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Box o' Shooz

A few days ago, I was out walking Pao Pao, wondering if I'd find anything interesting by the side of the road. We walked down an alley, and I actually said out loud to him, "Well, I guess we won't find anything today."

And that's when I found a box of shoes, all in good condition. The variety of them cracked me up. Did they all belong to one woman? What a contradiction she must be!

There were sky-high heels suitable for hitting the clubs:

Some casual sandals:

Slightly quirky blue suede boots with wooden soles:

And some brand-new, never-been-worn hiking boots with the tags still on them:

Vibram soles. Great construction. Perfectly clean:

Guess which pair attracted me the most?

Was it the hiking boots? I admit, I was intrigued. But they weren't my size. And I already have a very new pair I'm working to break in. 

Nope, it was the stripper shoes. Couldn't resist putting the on for a minute. God, what torture! Off they all went to Goodwill.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Malibu Book Club

Once a year, my book club meets in Malibu, at the beachside home of one of our (very fortunate) members. It's always a treat. But this year, something was missing from the sandy beach.

There was absolutely no beach! There wasn't even any sand!

Usually, 40 or 50 feet of sandy beach separate my friend's house from the waves. But due to a couple of hurricanes in the Pacific, it was stripped away. The ocean washed right up to the decks of the houses:

Actually, the waves whooshed right under the decking. It was a strange sight, and it sounded even stranger. The rocks and pebbles (usually buried under mounds of sand) roared as each receding wave tumbled them about:

It was almost hard to hear each other on the deck, the noise from the swirling rocks and pebbles was so loud.

But what a beautiful place to spend an afternoon talking about books! This was the (sand-less) view to the north:

And this was the (equally sand-less) view to the south:

While we were on the deck, we saw seals, surfers, pelicans, and dolphins.

But the scene-stealer was the weirdly beautiful beach, stripped of its sand...

 ...and the waves that came pounding in:

I've never seen anything like it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Too Hot For Stock

It is unbearably hot in Los Angeles this week. The only safe way to go out in the middle of the day is inside an air-conditioned car:

All summer long, I've been making stock out of the best of the season's food--corn on the cob, zucchini, summer squash, fresh tomatoes, BBQ'd chicken. I've rendered the scraps down:

Until they make a delightfully tasty stock:

I've strained the stock until it's clear and fat-free, poured it into zip-style bags, and popped them in the freezer:

In this horrible heat wave, nobody wants to eat a hearty soup. So the bags of stock pile up like unread books on a shelf:

I can't wait until the weather cools down enough to start making soup....

...and wearing Fall clothing, like this polka-dot sweater dress from Garnet Hill.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Entry and Gallery Renovation (90% Done)

Here's our renovated entry and what we call the "gallery"--a long hallway that T-bones off the entry. It connects the bedroom wing to the public areas. The area is 90% finished; there are still a few items to tackle, but I didn't want any longer to wait to share what we've done.

Floors, Before: The entry and gallery floors were tiled in a color my Nana would've called "titty pink." It was very hard to decorate around that color! Here's Pao, taking a last sit on the cool tile:

(This photo makes them look pretty beige; they were pinker.)

Floors, Before: In place of the pink tile, we chose this beautiful, durable flooring by Armstrong. It looks like reclaimed barn wood in a sort of silvery, brownish-gray. Unless you bend down and touch it, you wouldn't know it's laminate:

(Dog owners will recognize the marks on the patio door: That's where the pugs scratch when they want to be let inside.)

Floors, During: Workers spread a thin layer of...something or fill in the low areas where the grout lines were:

Floors, During: New flooring is laid, baseboards still awaiting installation:

Floors, After: Flooring, baseboards, and the strips that make the transition from indoors to outdoors all in place:

Then we tackled the lighting.

Lighting, Before: The entry had a dark, ugly ceiling fixture that gave out a feeble amount of light:

Hello? The eighties are calling. They want their fixture back:

Lighting, After: Ugly fixture gone, now we have a more light-spilling, beautiful ceiling fixture:

I love the splotchy patina on its glass panes:

Then we tackled a series of odd little places in the long gallery, which used to be an outdoors patio. Previous owners enclosed it, making it part of the house. But it has some kooky angles left over from when there used to be an outdoors, in-the-wall barbecue.

Oddball Corner #1, Before:  This awkward corner, which used to be the outdoors barbecue, is located halfway down the gallery. The ledges held my collection of bird houses and cages, because I just didn't know what else to do with all those corners:

Oddball Corner #1, After: Embrace the awkwardness! But this time, we filled the area with an assortment of curvy things to help counteract the straight lines and right angles:

Gallery, After: Here's a long shot down the gallery, showing the oddball corner #1 in the upper left-hand area of the photo, below:

Gossip Bench, Before: To the left of the old BBQ is this "gossip bench." It needed a fresh coat of white paint and a proper cushion:

I toyed with making a cushion out of one of these fabrics, which I used elsewhere in the house:

Gossip Bench, After: But ultimately, I went with this beautiful Marimekko fabric my designer found:

(It has three different varieties of polka dots!)

Gossip Bench, After: Here's a more pulled-back shot of the area now. We still have to hang the little landscape that's currently sitting on the top of the bench:

Seasonal Table, Before: On a short little piece of wall halfway down the gallery, there used to be a pale-pink oval table. I used it to display seasonal bouquets--roses in the spring and summer, branches with leaves in the fall, and bare sticks or pine cones in the winter, like this:

Seasonal Table, *Mostly* After: I relocated the oval table to our bedroom and introduced this twisty-legged beauty, which I found in an alley. It's from the 1930s, or perhaps a bit earlier, according to the manufacturer. For the final "After," I plan to paint it a glossy, very dark blue-black. And, of course, hang the picture back up:

On top of the table, a painted Tole tray echoes the flowers on display:

Oddball Corner #2, After: Yet another odd little corner in the gallery. What used to be there? An umbrella stand and the watercolor of the fisherman (sorry, no picture for this "Before."):

Now the corner is more functional. It has a place for me to put my keys, sunglasses, and hat as I come in or go out the front door. My mom did the oil-pastel landscape years ago; I love it. Ultimately it will be hung up above the little table:

The green adds an unexpected note in the mix, to keep things from getting too overwhelmingly blue-and-gray. I learned that trick from my artistic mom; always put something a little off kilter in a room, to give it visual interest.

Here's a shot of the gallery, looking away from the old BBQ spot:

There are still a few things to do. Hang a few more pieces of art and tone down the brassy gold patina on the mirror in the entry with some Rub-n-Buff:

And re-paint and re-upholster this oddball chair, below, that I found by the side of the road. It's a great place to perch when putting on or pulling off shoes as I enter or leave the back yard. I love its one-of-a-kind looks:

So that's the entry and gallery, 90 percent done!


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