Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eat Your Veggies?

No problem! I love asparagus. But I love chocolate more. And this asparagus is chocolate! I'll never forget strolling by the storefront of Woodhouse Chocolate in downtown St. Helena in the heart of California wine country a few years ago (before the children and move to the midwest, when that was a regular activity of mine.) It was just before the Easter holiday and the colorful spring display caught my eye. I remember seeing these beautiful, perfect stalks of asparagus. They looked so fresh that I wanted to pick and eat them. (I really do love asparagus.) Imagine my sheer joy when I realized they were - gasp- chocolate! The asparagus are delicious (and so fun and whimsical!) But so are the chocolate bunnies. And the truffles. And the salty savory bars. And the caramels with fleur de sel. And the...well, you get the picture. I don't get to Napa as much as I once did, but not to worry. Woodhouse ships anywhere.  I'm  eating plenty of veggies! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cooper Duper

It would perhaps be enough for the stylish Cooper chair from Dwell Studio  to be a comfy modern seat that's also a work of art. But in addition to its minimal beauty and function,  this chair is both made in the USA and built with earth-friendly materials. It's constructed of kiln dried hardwood that's certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). So the wood has been grown and harvested in a responsible way. Plus all glues used in the manufacturing process are formaldehyde-free. Handmade single-wraped cushions are loose (for easy vacuuming!) and finished with residential-grade upholstery.  One of Dwell Studio's first two signature chairs, Cooper was designed with mid-century lines in mind. Its striking silhouette is modern with a hind of traditional, adding a sense of personality to any space. It's available in more than 14 bold textures and colors. 

Make Waves

What was once a functional device is now a conversation piece and finishing touch to bath decor. WAVES is one of the many StyleDrain designs from California Faucets that keep the eyes returning again and again to the shower floor for another glimpse of a new concept in shower drains- style! 

Shown here paired with  stones- whose smoothness I am dying to feel on the soles of my feet- WAVES has a set of soothing transverse waves that incorporate the popular spa-inspired water theme under foot. Other styles include art deco and mission inspired designs. 

And now, I'm dreaming of a foot massage...

Friday, March 25, 2011


I began this blog to write about things that make me smile. I love and appreciate things that let us express our unique personalities. Usually this comes in the form of a distinctive, decorative something-or-other. But not always. Today, my world was rocked by cake. 

Okay, who am I kidding? I love cake. Any cake. Any flavor. Any form. But in the spirit of true trendiness, I have a particular affinity for cupcakes as of late. An avid fan of "Cupcake Wars," I hold my breath as the seconds tick away and contestants clamor to perch all of their cupcakes nearly on their inventive displays, often as unique as the personalities of each baker. In my imagination, I smell the vivacious vanilla and scintillating chocolate as the cakes bake.  I taste each minute morsel as the judges sample each flavor combination. I pick my favorites. (I like the "pretty" ones, and of course I "tisk tisk" anybody who even thinks of using kiwi!) I pass judgement on cupcakes I can't even taste. And I reminisce about waiting in line for 20 minutes to savor a cupcake from Sprinkles "back home" in California...my first true cupcake love.

But today's cupcakes weren't from California. They were from Iowa. Scratch Cupcakery in Cedar Falls, to be exact. And they're awesome. I sampled a delectable half-dozen of these beautiful little devils and still can't pick my favorite. (Okay, I shared them with my very kind and thoughtful husband who, understanding my passion, brought them home for me.) We started with a classic Red Velvet. Wow. We followed-up with a Razzle Dazzle (chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream frosting.) Amazing. We moved on to the very cheeky Monkey Business (banana cake, peanut butter frosting, banana chips.) I think this is the current front runner. A few hours later, we dove into the amazing Mocha cupcake (chocolate cake, mocha buttercream frosting, chocolate-covered coffee bean), which we also shared with our son, a chocoholic-in-training. The three of us then savored the Peppermint Patty (chocolate cake, peppermint buttercream frosting, Junior Mint) and called this a very good day. Yes, you counted correctly. That was only five. Another Red Velvet is going to make a fine weekend"breakfast dessert" tomorrow morning.

In each cupcake, the flavors were spot-on. The mocha was subtle, yet rich. The peppermint was appropriately brisk. The banana danced harmoniously with the peanut butter all along my taste buds. The butter cream icing on the Red Velvet made me sigh with delight.  The cake was precisely as moist as it should be. (While I am a lover of Sprinkles, they were often too far on the dry side.) There wasn't a dud in the whole bunch! (And these photos really don't come close to conveying the delicious beauty of these mini masterpieces.) And something else I found to be fabulous was the paper wrapper. Rather than peeling your typical accordion of paper all around the cupcake, this fancy little envelope had four corners and came off in a single peel. 

I don't enjoy my husband's heavy travel schedule. But the next time it takes him to Cedar Falls, I just might have to smile in anticipation! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Express Yourself


Express the style that's uniquely yours with stationery and gifts from Expressionary.com. Add a personal touch to everything you do, even if it's just your grocery list! They offer notepads, photo notes, cards, embossed personal stationery, invitations and announcements, address labels, calling cards, luggage tags, custom stamps, book plates and small leather goods. Whether your look is classic, funky, casual or formal, these stylish products can help you find the perfect gift to share or keep all to yourself.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tree Hugger

Since the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, your little ones will love this chic way to organize! This clothes tree from P'kolino is so fabulously cool looking that you may not want to cover it up! With several branches, there's plenty of hanging capacity. It's perfect for everything from nursery blankets to diaper bags. It's made out of premium birch and stands 4 feet tall. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sink About It

Why remodel when you can simply switch a sink?

If a complete makeover isn't in the budget, why not revamp the look of your bath by switching out the sink. It's a simple project that can get the most mileage. A sink provides a striking centerpiece and an instant update. Here are two of my favorite sinks (above, 26-inch Rectangular Vitreous China Vessel; below, Oval Stone Vessel) from Xylem, designer and manufacturer of creative bath products. Their line of glass, stone, vitreous china and architectural glass sinks offer a more budget-friendly way to completely transform and update the look and feel of the bath. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Light Up

I think this chandelier is exactly what Thomas Edison had in mind when he invented electricity. The  Arctic Pear chandelier from Ocre is both timeless and contemporary. Translucent glass and steel meld to create an industrial flavor that's at once simple and sculptural. A small design company founded by two British women, Ocre uses high quality materials and flawless craftsmanship to create objects of style and beauty that include lighting, accessories and furniture.

Saturday, March 12, 2011



I fell in love with Kelly Wearstler designs during my first stay at The Viceroy Santa Monica. The love affair was rekindled with my stay at the Palm Springs locale. The inventive "unexpected" vibe of her signature style excites my imagination and any time I find myself in a decorating dilemma, I think "What would Kelly Wearstler do?" 

Lucky for us, she's created several namesake product lines. The Kelly Wearstler boutique at Bergdorf Goodman showcases a range of decorative home accessories and a selection of furniture. She's got a line of fabrics and trims available through Lee Jofa. She's even designed a signature line of china for Pickard

Her line of fabric and wallcoverings designed for Schumacher bring the enchanting verve of her chic hotels into our homes. The designs are printed or woven primarily on linen or linen-cotton blends and are inspired by memorable experiences from her life, including her travels to Asia, her love of fashion, and her affinity for the animal kingdom. 

Read more about this remarkable style maven at My Vibe My Life

Friday, March 11, 2011

Extension of Disbelief

Nope. It's not a decorative awning bracket. It's an extension cord! Designed by Joris Laaman, WirePod is a flexible gray power cord that begins with a three-prong plug and branches out into four curled arms, each with a single three-prong socket. Its arms and body roll and unfurl as needed, to adjust for your function. WirePod is the first piece in Artecnica's Wiremore™ collection, a series of electrical products that challenge convention by transforming power cords from concealed, passive objects into visible, active elements that aesthetically and functionally energize living and working spaces. Plus...it's totally neato! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wabi Sabi

For me, Wabi Sabi is a sushi restaurant in Venice Beach that I long for. But it's also a Japanese concept signifying simplicity, paring design down to the bare essentials. That's what XYLEM had in mind when they redesigned the ESSENCE bath vanity collection. Bringing a Zen-like simplicity to the bath, ESSENCE is newly configured with clean lines and a modern Asian aesthetic. The collection offers a multitude of options for personalizing a tranquil bath retreat. The simple beauty inspires meditative serenity as you begin and end your day, and cleverly designed storage provides practicality.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Float to Dreamland

This cozy quilt from Anthropologie is sure to help you drift off to dreamland. With soft undulations of cotton jersey, the Rivulets quilt adds interesting texture to the bedroom. Snuggle up in Burnt Coral (shown), Slate, or Cream. Just as a "rivulet" is a small stream, the scallop-like patterns of this quilt are like the fluid arcs of a bubbling brook.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Funky Baby

Shoveling rice cereal into the o-shaped mouth of an infant who'd much rather suck than use a spoon is an unpleasant task, usually requiring a raincoat. But these funky, fun and fabulous bibs from Baby JaR give you something to smile about (in addition to your little love bug's face smeared with cereal!) Baby JaR started when sisters Jessica and Rachael (J and R) wanted to design something unique for their newborn niece. Their desire was to create stylish yet functional items they would use themselves. They focused on details: unique trims, bold color combinations, and relaxed, comfy materials. The vibrant colors of their bibs, burpies and blankets are fun and fresh. Their hip line of products includes cool baby clothes and accessories. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Make Your Move

Roche Bobois first introduced the modular Mah-Jong sofa more than 30 years ago. This year, they present the eleventh edition vintage Mah-Jong sofa, in new bright and colorful Missoni Home® fabrics.

Mah-Jong is a Chinese game involving skill, strategy, calculation and luck. This Mah-Jong is a game too. It's composed of hand-sewn rolled edge, quilted seat and back cushions in foam and fiber. Like pawns on a chess board, these modular pieces can be strategically placed and moved around to create comfort, harmony and happiness. The rule is easy: compose the sofa you desire.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teething Bling

Oh Plah!™ is a chic, colorful bracelet that's a fashionable wrist accessory for mom to wear and a fun teether for baby. Named for the French term "Here you go," Oh Plah! was designed by Caryn Paradis and Jen Pitman, who wanted to create something stylish for Mom to wear and captivating for baby to play with. Designed with baby's utmost safety in mind, it's 100% free from paints, lead, latex, PVC and BPA's. Plus, it's made in the USA! Check out the cool color selection...http://roundhousedc.com/ohplah_teething_bracelet.html

Friday, March 4, 2011

Morning Becomes Eclectic

As does any time of day you spend in a Beaux Arts kitchen by SieMatic.

Beaux Arts is an architectural style that is an eclectic fusion of influences from different periods and cultures made famous by Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. SieMatic's Beaux Arts collection brings this unique style to the kitchen. Appealing to a wide range of tastes, it features a merging of traditional elements in door styles, pilasters and other details with contemporary elements like modern countertops and steel detail. The collection, created in collaboration with SieMatic's Chicago design partner, Mick De Giulio, combines different stylistic directions, materials, and colors never before combined in kitchen design. Eclectic styles are bridged with varying international design preferences, resulting in contemporary sophistication and a completely new kind of aesthetic and elegance in interior design.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Love in Bloom

I am in love with The Organic Bloom! I discovered these gorgeous wooden frames at Kenzi Photography in Marion, IA when I took my daughter in for her newborn photo session. (Adorable baby in that photo, don't you think? :-)  ) They offer a huge variety of shapes ranging from dainty (like the Mary Ann shown here) to more tailored styles and more than 30 different colors. They can also create totally unique color combos and custom sizes upon request. Follow their blog and check out their website at The Organic Bloom.

Photos: Kenzi Photography

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Whooo's the Cutest?

I'd say this adorable wooden owl puzzle from DwellStudio!

Signs of Spring

What's your favorite sign that Spring is just around the corner? Is it when Punxsutawney Phil's shadow's out of sight? Or maybe the hearing the tweet of the first robin? For me, it's seeing the new spring handbags!

The funky fabric on this little guy from Fossil put a smile on my face. The Key-Per Shopper comes in an array of quirky retro-inspired prints. I love the cheerful look of the coated canvas. Plus it's roomy. It has a magnetic closure and lots of pockets for cell phones, keys, etc. Not to mention it's affordable, and should stand up to sticky kid hands!

A Spa Escape...in a Toilet?

Yes, that's right. A toilet. 

To the eye, it may seem like your typical everyday commode (Albeit, streamlined and minimalist. Can you imagine how much easier this is to clean than your standard toilet with its nooks and crannies that seem to have been put there deliberately to collect dust and drive you mad?) but a closer look reveals an array of automated functions making REGIO by INAX anything but your average john. 

First, LED lights illuminate the bowl. (Yay! No more night light!) Next it plays soothing music while the lid lifts- automatically- to reveal a cozy heated seat. The spa experience continues as double-power deodorizing begins when the seat is occupied. Complete relaxation goes uninterrupted with the industry's first automatic "Silent Stream Flushing System" that delivers a powerful, yet quiet air-driven flush that is no louder than a gentle, murmuring brook. A refreshing personal cleanse comes by way of two spray nozzles with sensitive temperature and water pressure controls to ensure a thorough feminine and posterior wash. An air purifier activates, emitting ions that cleanse the air in the room. 

New to the US, INAX is Japan's leading manufacturer of tile and sanitary fixtures. The introduction of the Zen-like REGIO sets a new precedent in advanced comfort technologies and style never before felt or seen in the luxury toilet category. Check out more at www.inax-usa.com. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blast From the Past

My past, that is!

I got my start in the design world working with Italian luxury kitchen designer Snaidero. As advertising + pr coordinator, I promoted the restyled Ola. With its automotive lacquer finishes, this kitchen was a sexy machine that pretty much did the work for me. Just as my career in the kitchen and bath world has evolved, so has Ola. I give you...The Evolution of Ola!