Enjoying the Fruits of Life

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hello friends, is anyone out there? I know I've pretty much stopped blogging entirely. It isn't because I am not still obsessed with design or photography, or because the move got the best of me. Although, maybe that last one is a little true.

To be perfectly candid I've experienced a lot of negativity in other areas of my life while living in Japan. It felt almost whiny to complain when my family has been so blessed and thus instead, I just didn't say anything at all. Maybe it is that, "if you have nothing nice to say..." thing. To make a long story short, I have approached the last decade of my life with openness. I've befriended people simply because they were brought into my life. Sometimes I think moving so much leaves you wanting connections to your current place and time.

The reality is that there are a lot of unhappy people in this world and at times instead of looking within, they look to express their unhappiness at the expense of others. It is okay to be unhappy, and the truth is everyone is unhappy or suffering sometimes. Yet, as I try to teach my daughter, you can't take your feelings out on others. It isn't fair and you don't know what challenges they're facing, some of which are beyond their control. Up until recently, my policy of letting everyone into my life has not always worked. I'm recognizing this idea left me vulnerable to bullying, yes bullying, from other adult women. I tried very hard to be indifferent about it but the truth is, it made me lose faith in people a little bit. In short, I've taken a page from George Washington (nerd alert) and followed a life focused within for the past several months, or really even longer. Time to start anew.

That being said, I feel incredibly blessed. Being back in New York (nay, just being back in America) has been really lovely after several years overseas. The simple joys mean so much. We've been doing great little trips around the Northeast - revisiting places and doing things I remember from my own childhood. There's been some reconnecting with old friends from before we started this crazy adventure which has been a wonderful reminder of both who I was but also of how I've grown. And there's been making new, more positive, friends which has been a breath of fresh air.

Most of all, it has been such a joy to see our daughter flourish coming home. It is amazing - she's embraced all the new experiences and friends so quickly. I hope to be like my daughter and live with resiliency and joy. I hope to find myself embracing new blessings and stages of life. And as such we're due with another child soon. I can't believe how lucky we are. I know not everything is or has been perfectly smooth sailing but I would venture to guess that's just a universal part of being human.

So while this blog may have suffered, all is well. Maybe in due course I'll have more to share - more historic houses, more architecture, more diamonds in the rough. We've been looking at farms recently, some in need of restoration. If that's the direction life takes us, I'll be sure to be back here with more to share. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy each and every simple pleasure life sends your way. Thanks for reading along! And I hope you liked my random photos from our recent trips around the Northeast!

My Miniature House, Part III

Friday, May 1, 2015

Time for the final part of this dollhouse tour. So on the very top floor there is still quite a bit of floorspace even though the ceilings are sloped. The challenge was to make the most of it. Many of the others we had seen on the web used the area as an "attic" or even another bedroom. We went with a little Federal style study and 1920's inspired bathroom. So here's the little study with the Washington Desk and Chippendale Chairs from JBM Miniatures.

The little violin was a gift from Mr. Toshi for the dollhouse. It has real strings!

The cabbage sculpture is from the National Museum in Taipei. It was a souvenir that cost maybe $3USD. I think it is kind of a quirky, cute addition. And that barrister bookcase has little tiny books in it.

Right now it is Sakura Season here in Japan. We had a mild winter so they bloomed a little early. My daughter LOVES the cherry blossoms, especially once their petals start to fall like snow. So I had to get this tiny little sakura bonsai from Etsy seller My Craft Garden.

This is the most awkward space of the house. But we decided to make it a little 1920's glam bathroom. The "modern bathroom set" was from Miniatures.com, as well as that tiny hex tile, mirror and towel rack. The gold, scales wallpaper was from my favorite paper shop here in Japan, Nakashio's which is a local family-owned boutique. All the Japanese papers I bought were Chiyogami/Yuzen style and you can find similar ones at the Japanese Paper Place. And the little bath toy is another Japanese eraser from Daiso. My daughter loves to put him in the bathtub!

The final room was a little bonus attic room. Many of the other versions we had seen on the internet made this into a storage or a sewing room. We decided a sewing room, but really more a masculine, "nautical tailoring room" would be fun. I'm a big fan of blogs like Made By Hand (thanks to my husband) that really look at bespoke suits, so this was inspired by them!

Rug, art, accessories and furniture from Miniatures.com. The plant was from My Craft Garden. I made the bolts of menswear fabrics from felt and chipboard, inspired by the "wool" blanket I saw on Otterine using felt.

Hope you enjoyed a peek inside our dollhouse project! I had no idea how much fun this would be. When I first wanted to make a dollhouse our plans started very simply. But we got very, very carried away! It is such a fun hobby, I would definitely consider doing another in the future.

My Miniature House, Part II

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I hope you liked the first dollhouse post! Moving upstairs, I really wanted to do a chinoiserie bedroom, inspired by Chinoiserie Chic's glam dollhouse. I ordered a bunch of dollhouse specific papers and the resolution on them was all pretty low. I finally went to my friend's boutique, Nakashio's, to buy some decorative washi papers. My daughter picked out this pink cherry blossom paper (it is VERY pink) but I think it works! It is a little hard to photograph because it has gold and metallic elements.

I added a molded ceiling using trim from the same Etsy seller, Orsa Styliandes. The bedroom furniture is from Miniatures Marketplace.

This picture probably gives the best look at that paper. And again, those stairs... that was a little painful! I was glad to find tutorials from miniaturist Otterine. She's a pro, her tutorials were so helpful for first timers like us.

Adjacent to the bedroom is the nursery. I tried to make it inspired by the nursery my daughter slept in as a newborn. The starry night paper is from Paper Source. That's definitely a "wish we had" for the real thing! Sorry this first photo is a little wonky!

Here's a better look at that paper.

My daughter loves to play with this toy box filled with Japanese erasers from Daiso.  The rug is also part of a placemat from Daiso. It reminded me of a fun and fresh Dash and Albert style rug.

My dollhouse in a dollhouse. It was from Miniatures.com repainted with Martha Stewart craft paints.

Daybed is from JBM Miniatures, I refinished it for a more Gustavian look.

Okay, one last post to come. Hope you are liking this little (I mean that literally!) tour. 

My Miniature House, Part I

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A long time ago I mentioned I was building a dollhouse. It seems like it has been forever (because it has) but several weeks ago I finally finished it. And as soon as I finished it, the movers came and packed it up. So fingers crossed that it crosses the Pacific safe and sound. But before it left, I took a few photos. So here's a photo tour of my (mini) house, starting with the exterior. (You can also see how messy my bookcases were from pre-move sorting!)

The kit was the Painted Lady by Real Good Toys, but I actually ordered it from Hobby Lobby. Understandably it took a bit to get here but was well worth the wait!

Did you spot the mini versions of our dogs? This is a dollhouse for my daughter after all! I think we got a bit carried away so she will not really play with it until she's older. But she still loves looking at it. We might do another, more play-friendly, house when we get back to the States. It turned into a really fun project!

Let's check out the living room, inspired by the Green Drawing Room of Warwick Castle in Warwickshire, England. Painting over the fireplace is from Etsy seller, My Dollhouse Miniatures.

Decorative paper used for the ceiling was from Paper Source. The molding was a combination of miniatures.com and Etsy seller Orsa Styliandes. I bought the fireplace from Orsa as well and added the faux brick backing and accessories from miniatures.com. The bust is from Miniature Cottage in Nashville. The sofa is a reproduction of the one from President Lincoln's house but reupholstered in ivory silk.

Those. Stairs. Ugh, that was tough, especially with the molding surround. But I think it was worth it!

The little green snuff bottle was from my favorite antiques dealer here in Japan, Mr. Toshi's of Hachinohe. The flowers and plants in the house are from Etsy seller My Craft Garden. Gold Table was from Miniatures.com partner website, Miniature Marketplace.

The other room on the bottom floor is the dining/kitchen. It has a little eat-in nook. The board and batten was painstakingly completed by my husband. He gets credit for putting all the papers into the house! The kitchen paper is another from Paper Source. The sink was a mod using newel posts as legs. The rug was cut from a placemat but clearly needs to be ironed!

I painted the little Aga cooker from Miniatures.com. I wish these photos were a little better; I was in such a rush before things got packed-up. I have to say Miniatures.com had phenomenal service. I went through a couple broken items and they were so great about sending replacements - this was one of those that took a couple tries. I painted it to look like the Robins Egg Blue Aga finish. The trim made to look like a custom hearth was and overmantle from Etsy seller Orsa Styliandes. Tile sheet was added to the back.

I refinished and upholstered the table and chairs. I'm not great at miniature upholstery (so there's a bit of a gap) but hey, good first try!

Okay, I'll share more in another post! But if you decide to take on a project like this, you can see my sources from my Keep.com link. If you're looking for more miniatures inspiration, I pinned a ton during the construction of this house so feel free to check that out here. Hope you enjoyed it!

Sunny San Diego House Tour

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Over the past year I've been working on and off via email with an old friend to make their house reflect them. This is a young, busy family that recently relocated back to California from Boston.

This is the beautiful entry sitting area. My friend is quite talented with flowers!

The house was a blend of dark beige, brick and maple wood. My dear friend is anything but beige and now I think their house reflects her sunny disposition so much more. We lightened everything up! I really wanted to keep the existing beams and brighten the walls and brick to draw attention to them.

I love those built-ins we added - it was her idea and it looks great. That was a pinterest-inspired DIY, believe it or not! Her husband and dad are very handy!

The kitchen felt very heavy and dark. In addition to painting the existing cabinets we added a classic subway tile back splash to brighten the space. And those beautiful built-in banquettes? Her dad built them! She picked the eating nook lighting and I love the natural capiz with a bit of glimmer.

I really enjoy working with other people's tastes. Mine tend to be more neutral and I tend to gravitate towards a soft palette but my friend is all about bold. These silk drapes are so her and I love how they define the spaces in the open floor plan. That dining set belonged to her husband's grandmother and they were very attached to it. It looks great freshened with new dining chairs.

We didn't do much here, she already had most of the beautiful furnishings. Just a little paint and this master looks so gorgeous.

This was one of my favorite projects for their house. We're still tweaking big brother's room for the next house but little sister has such an adorable little nest. We started with a blank canvas. She picked this beautiful iron crib and I love that custom linen daybed.

Thanks K for sharing these adorable photos of your house! Can't wait to see the next one!!

A Colorful Swan - Marella Agnelli, Part II

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

One of the most exciting and opulent spaces I found, by far, was "Villar Perosa" which was conveniently featured in Architectural Digest a few months ago. Situated 40 miles to the west of Turin, it is an 18th-century former hunting lodge from architect Filippo Juvarra in the Piedmontese Baroque style.

Even this light-filled hall is a feast for the eyes.

This house has some wonderful private spaces as well.

Marella's own room in a profusion of feminine floral and pink.

I love this perfect shade of green in the Bishop's Room.

Evident from the Children's Wing of the 1920's - you can see this was truly a family home.

This is the facade as well a photo of the family in front of the house. image

Even the family chapel and grounds look like an idyllic place to rest.

Sourced from Architectural Digest, thanks for reading!