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I have always liked the classic Hudson Bay blanket.  The primary colors of the signature HBC Collection striped point blanket first became popular in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714). First commissioned by HBC in 1800, the multi stripe has never been out of production since. It is the most popular colorway of all the HBC point blankets, past or present. Over time, it has become the product most identified with HBC, and by extension, Canada.  Calling it a classic is an understatement I guess!

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Careful attention to detail and authenticity ensures that today’s customer is acquiring the same high-quality blanket as the one produced centuries before. Today the Point Blanket is manufactured in Yorkshire, at the finest woollen mill in England. The number of points, or handmade thin stripes, on the edge of the blanket reflects its size.  Authentic HBC blankets are 100% woven wool.e730b176575e411ba37467b9a58552d6

I have a pair of mid-century chairs that belonged to my grandmother that I would love to recover this way.  Even though the textile is wool, I think the palette would support any season and wool is so durable.  Who wants to help me convince my husband this is a good look for our chairs in our tiny cottage by the sea?

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In a very simple room (all white) this sheet set or duvet cover could look cute, but beware! a little bit goes a very long way.  Please avoid the pillows to match, the candle and the coasters, iPhone cover and everything else this pattern is tortured into covering.  I think it’s best look is just being a blanket and after that, upholstery.  It looks so good on this little ottoman, doesn’t it?

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IMG_7270 So this first picture is really the aftermath, yep… it’s “the day after” but I really like the light and exposure in it and I think this image has more to tell than the frames I shot getting ready and throughout the night.  A good time was had by all and the room looked great with the gold and silver decor.  I didn’t hang globes from the chandelier, but i did hang streamers ove all the curtain rods and made great looking and festive “sheers” a must for next year!  The balloons allowed me to get the streamers into the middle of the room, the effect was great.  I also allowed for a touch of winter by leaving the faux-snow I had out, and using white ornaments to fill a hurricane.

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Our menu was: To start, Gougeres, Scallops with Bacon Jam, Avocado and Orange Salad, then we had Filet of Beef with Mushrooms, Creamed Spinach, Yorkshire Pudding AND then we had Champagne and Baked Alaska.

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What really struck me was the tradition of it all.  My Mom’s avocado, orange and shrimp salad for instance.  She always served it at Christmas, and it’s a great winter salad.   And, it seems my default New Years the dessert has become baked Alaska; I love to make it – home-made pound cake base, 3 kinds of home-made ice cream (Chocolate, Sour Cream and Raspberry) all stacked neatly under my new favorite… Meringue.  Even the plates and serving platters had meaning… the fish plates were my Grandmothers and the Scallop platter was a wedding gift.  Decorations are important but things with meaning will resonate and add a layer of sentiment streamers can’t. IMG_7281I did want to make the night fun and silly for our guests, So I put up a crown making station in the front hall.  Guests drank champagne, nibbled on tasty bits and hot glued to their hearts content making hats for the big countdown.  It was a great success.  We chose to draw numbers that corresponded to a particular pile of supplies, but you could just make a pile and let folks go crazy.  And, yes… everyone started out with a 1/2 a Veuve Clicquot  Champagne box as a base.  good times! IMG_7283

New Years Eve Ideas

December 29, 2014

10fbe018cdf02acbcd4b7bfb9caca7c4There’s still time to plan and implement a creative and festive dinner party or dessert party or cocktail party for New Years Eve.  You already have a theme, or I’d suggest you pick that first.  Next decide on a look or palette so that there is consistency in your decorations.  I think I’ll go with Gold and Silver with dashes of Black, it feels classic, if feels fancy & Black-tie-ish and I know I have boxes of Christmas balls in gold and silver that can be put to good use.  And, if I mix metals iI can use sterling place settings and everything will tie together.

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I like the idea of hanging the metallic finish orbs and thin metallic streamers from the chandler, so I’ll start there and I think I’ll float helium balloons to the ceiling and let more of the metallic streamers hand from those.

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These flag banners are easy to make.  You can stencil “Happy New Year” on hand cut triangles or leave them plain – and by plain I mean glittered or painted or something – and string them together with metalic streamers, ribbon or what have you. enhanced-buzz-7964-1354459961-3

Not sure if these wouldn’t make for a messy drink stirrer but maybe as part of the hat making station? or stuck in a cake? But thought they were cute… What would you use these for?

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I think this is a very cute idea for napkin rings.  You might not have time to source enough old charming watches to make it to this years table but start looking for them now and by next year you could have enough to invite everyone you know for New Years eve dinner.

enhanced-buzz-7336-1355247668-9 This project is easy and makes a big impact!  Cut out numbers 2 0 1 3 and wrap with metallic streamers and hang in front of a mirror, mantle or any spot that could use a punch of festivity!  Wrapping hides the cut edges of the foam-coreposter or card board so it is an upgrade from simply painting or even glittering.

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Not sure how else I’d use these other than a add-on for a “make your own hat” station so party guests can get creative and build a crown or hat for the big countdown.  Set-up a 6 foot table with old costume jewelry, colored paper, glitter, feathers (dipped in gold of course) and any other bright and shiny object you think would look fabulous on a hat!

enhanced-buzz-10472-1355255058-5So yeah, a hat making station… I would definitely add  this to make a party just a bit more whimsical, loosen people up (if the champagne isn’t doing it) and give folks something to do together, to talk about and a reason to take pictures, selifies and Instagram pictures.

glittervotive Try this cute idea of adding a glitter edge to your votives.  it’s a simple and easy way to dress up an inexpensive glass votive.  I saw the “how to” on Uncommon Designs Online, use the link to find out how easy they are to make.

starsI think I’m going to try and make these but fill them with a wish, or fortune or small surprise!  I saw these on the Minna May blog page and think they are worth promoting.  If you want to learn how to make them click this link: www.minnamayblog.com  What ever you end up doing I hope you have a terrific New Years and I’ll see you next year!

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Nope, still not tired of a fresh and clean looking white kitchen.  

– warm it up with wood

-keep it simple with open shelving

– light it up with interesting fixtures

-add texture with tile or stone

– introduce a twist like brass fixtures and hardware

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Amy Bartlam Photography

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Same thing goes fro the bathroom…

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indulgent? maybe… but what I’m really trying to do is give you insight to what someone on your list might like by reflecting on what I might like.  See?  I’m doing you a favor by blogging about what I want. Starting with the Patagonia Undyed Cashmere Sweater *swoon*.  Inspired by India’s mountainous north, where winter clothes are measured both by their functionality and elegance, this rendition of their classic Snap-T Pullover is crafted from undyed and minimally processed cashmere. Its straight-from-the-goat coloring–naturals, browns and tans–reflect hues only found in nature; fewer chemicals and less dyes lessen environmental impacts and result in a softer hand. The fabric’s subtle waffle knit adds warmth, and the cuffs, inside collar and hem are exceptionally soft next to skin. Details include a signature Snap-T-style, 4-snap nylon woven placket, stand-up collar and single-snapped chest pocket with a nylon woven flap to secure essentials. it’s pricey at $399.00 but look at it, cool huh?

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For a smaller budget but certainly as warm if not warmer, the LLBean Packaway Jacket is the layer you’ll reach for all year-round.  It’s remarkably light PrimaLoft One insulation is surprisingly warm, the ultralight ripstop nylon shell is treated to shed water and block wind and is a highly compact alternative to fleece… it packs into its own hand pocket.  It’s not a stretch when they call this the most versatile jacket they sell. Incredibly light yet surprisingly warm, the jacket is an ideal layer in winter and perfect alone for changeable conditions in spring and fall. Because it packs down so small, it’s perfect to bring along in any weather.

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The YOSEMITE QUILTED BLAZER is a favorite! from James Perse, this one should also be considered for only the very best on your list ($450.00 retail) but it’s a beauty.  Sure, all types of puffy coats are on trend, but this one dresses up and keeps you looking chic and warm.  This water resistant goose down filled quilted blazer has a crosshatch textured wool-like suiting fabric. I love the sport coat styling of the button front and curved bottom opening. Four-button detail on sleeve bottom is a nice touch and the left chest pocket and two front welt pockets with flap detail might come in handy if I’m wearing gloves or carrying a cell phone.

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The Copenhagen-based outfitter NORSE PROJECTS has been producing utilitarian vintage-style outerwear, inspired by the often-harsh Scandinavian weather, and giving it a subtle streetwear twist since 2004. JCrew now offers this jacket that Takes cues from classic hunting jackets, the Lindisfarne is made from British Millerain waxed cotton canvas (the company has been the specialist in all-weather cotton since the 1880s) with a Primaloft® insulated lining.  Originally designed for the U.S. Army, Primaloft is made of tiny fibers that trap air to keep you extra warm.  It’s finished with leather-tipped drawstrings, this jacket is a state-of-the-art take on a tried-and-true workhorse.  And, it the most expensive at $690.00 ouch. I do love it.

Make your own… WREATH

December 2, 2014

IMG_6550It’s snowing on my blog page, so it must be time to make Christmas decorations or in this case a holiday wreath.  I made one today to be auctioned at a fund-raiser for our local Art Museum -NBAM.  Most importantly when you’re making a wreath, decide what the aesthetic is going to be, shop to that aesthetic and stick to your plan, deviation will only get you into trouble.  That said if you get into trouble along the way and need to adjust your plan… well that’s only human.  When I was deciding what my wreath  build I knew I wanted it to have a “design” theme, and I have baskets and baskets filled with leftover fabric scraps kept for past jobs, so I dug out as many rich reds and interesting patterned reds as I could find and got to work.

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I started with the cheapest shatter resistant ornaments I could find in the sizes I wanted to work with and a “starter wreath”.  Note: I thought I wanted balls only (no greenery) but after giving it some thought I knew that plan would involve many more hand-wrapped balls and leave much less room for error.   Floral wire and a glue gun rounded out the necessary equipment.  I loosely wrapped a ball in fabric and cut away the excess fabric to create a rough circle, from this I cut out the remaining fabrics that would be used on this sized ball.  Give your fabric a quick iron if it’s not perfectly smooth.  IMG_6522After you have the fabrics cut to the specific ball size, wrap each individually gathering carefully around the stem of the ball.  Holding the ball with one had wrap floral wire around your gathered end twice and pull tightly, I found pulling with pliers worked best.  Twist the wire to close tightly around the gathered fabric and trim any access fabric.  If your fabric feels loose ( and it shouldn’t) use hot glue to secure the wire to the fabric, or anywhere else you feel it needs it.

IMG_6518Be thoughtful when placing colors and textures mix them up and vary the size and shade of neighboring balls.  With the long tails of your wires, pull them through the support ring or starter wreath and secure to the back by twisting wires to each other or to the framework of the ring.  I think it makes it much easier to establish where your top is and balance colors and number of balls as you go, side to side.  I worked on a flat surface and pulled the wreath over the edge of the table to make it easier to feed the wires through and reach them from underneath.

IMG_6519Some puckering is to be expected but do your best to get a smooth top and sides on each of the wrapped balls.  Don’t twist the wire too tight as it may break.  If it does add new wire and move on as described above.  Since you have a plan, you already know if you’re working evenly around the ring, or if – like me – you want heavy at the top tapering off to nothing on the opposite side.  I like the bits of greenery poking up between the two sized ornaments, I think it softens the look, and holds it all together visually and still has a bit of tradition to it.  If you are up for the challenge, you could just have the greenery showing from the back and have the face of the wreath just balls, or use a ring with no greenery at all.  But, be warned this will take quite a bit of wrapping, wiring and securing.

IMG_6527Ultimately I decided on three sizes of balls for my wreath.  The smallest – which are not wrapped btw, they are store-bought, as is, sparkly red – filled the gaps between the larger balls and give dimension.  I also chose to leave a few of the largest balls uncovered as well for the sparkle.  The fabric only look was feeling a bit flat to me.  See, we all make adjustments along the way.   IMG_6549

Total cost for this wreath was around $85.00 but I did splurge on a new glue gun, so $75.00 or so.  If you already have a “pine” wreath, recycle it… you end up seeing so little of it.  The ring I bought was 27.00 at the local Micheal’s and the shatter-proof balls were 14.99 a package.   I might add a bow, what do you think?  Good Luck and Happy Holidays.
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Ok, back to design and architecture…

I can’t CONTAIN myself, I just love these houses, just enough modern with a mid-century vibe and sustainable… I’m in! Smitten in fact.  Can you believe that with a $40,000 budget, Benjamin Garcia Saxe used two 40-foot long shipping containers to create this cozy 1,000 square feet space. The home is located in San Jose, Costa Rica, and proves you don’t need deep pockets to fund a shipping container home project.

15-Shipping-Containers-Turned-Into-Designer-Homes-1The design team at Studio H:T thought a bit outside of the box with this one. Rather than build the entire home from shipping containers, they chose to add 2 storage containers to the outsides of a pre-existing structure. The residence is nestled on a ledge in Nederland, Colorado, and includes roof mounted solar panels, passive cooling, and much more.

15-Shipping-Containers-Turned-Into-Designer-Homes-4Guest houses are typically small anyway, so why not build yours from a recycled shipping container? Designed by the team at Poteet Architects, this modern living space spans 360 square feet, and has everything one would need from a living room and study area, right down to the bathroom and patio.

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Designed to be inexpensive and portable, the Port-A-Bach is the exact picture that comes to mind when we think of storage container dwellings. The tiny home was built back in 2007 by the team at Atelierworkshop, and features a double bed alongside 2 fold out bunk beds, providing sleeping quartes for up to 4 people. Unfolding the boxy home provides a nice deck to enjoy to enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer.

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Great aren’t they?  I’d love a piece of land, with a view to place one of these sustainable, unique and easily built structures.  To see these and more like them visit dailynewsdig.com that’s where I got these images and most of the copy.

 

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