the simplicity of flowers

I would say that my garden is nearing its peak for the entire year.  Which is exciting and kinda sad at the same time. I'm always torn between cutting the flowers and leaving them on the plant.  But I know that cutting them encourages more blooms - so cutting wins.

My allergies are also right there.  This bouquet will not be able to stay in the house for long. The scent is overwhelming and I start sneezing.

It always amazes me what a vase of flowers can do for a room, so chic.  And don't even get me started on the classic but simple power of blue and white.

The Hawthorne is going strong too.  My goodness these branches last a long time indoors. What's blooming in your neighborhood?  It seems like everywhere I go everything is going crazy.  It's all so beautiful and sweet.  x


how to stop your lipstick from bleeding

Ugh, the dreaded lipstick bleed and what to do about it. Aging can be so fun.  Elizabeth aka The Vintage Contessa brought up the subject the other day on her blog and so I thought I'd address it here too. Is there nothing worse than putting on some pretty lippy and then an hour later you take a glance in the mirror and that pretty color is now migrating up and out to every line around your lips? The darker the color and deeper the lines the worse the situation can be. You can wipe the color away but the color still lingers.  So what to do? Luckily I work with 3 professional makeup artists and they all shared their #1 tip with me!

Step 1.  Start with a clean face and lips.  Apply a lip conditioner such as Sothys Universal Smoothing Lip Filler.  At $18, this product is amazing guys.  We have several of these types of product for sale in the store but this one is THE best.  It is formulated with silicones and texturing agents that smooth and fill the lips.  It's transparent so you apply the pencil to your lips and also apply it beyond the lip creating a barrier that stops the bleed. .

Step 2.  Apply your favorite lip color.  Here we are using Sothys Lip Rouge 241.  

Step 3.  Blot the color with your fingers or a tissue.

The blotting creates more of a stain look which I think is perfect for daytime.

Without blotting leaves a classic lipstick look which I really love too.  So what do you think?  Do you have any tricks up your sleeve?  Do share because we are all in this together.  x


springtime order

Don't you love a good spring clean?  I do.  With the doors and windows open, the house is awash in the scent of the orange groves.  I love to move things around, clean inside, under and on top of everything.  The act of organizing, cleaning and purging honestly thrills me.  There is that sense of a fresh start, you know?

Hawthorne clipped from the garden.

One of the things I liked best about Country Living styling my pantry was the use of baskets to control odds and ends.  

Also, I stole the idea that my friend K uses in the Fuchsia Dome.  I swapped the bulky wooden hangers for these sleek velvet covered ones and gained about a foot of hanging space.  Critical in a one closet house.

Do you remember this Lily of the Valley lamp I bought at an estate sale a couple of years ago for $7?

I swapped the shade with the $2 lamp I bought at a thrift store in Utah and love it. Multi-state decorating.

I love the feeling of order and calm that spring cleaning brings about, it helps me pass through this difficult time. x

ps - thank you everyone for leaving such kind, sweet and thoughtful comments about Melinda.  You have no idea what they mean to me. x


gardeny things

I remember when my garden looked like this.  The drought has changed things.  Lots of things have changed around here.  I miss Melinda SO much.  

I've always been influenced by gardens.  Nothing attracts me more than being outdoors in my garden.

Gardens influence everything in my life.  From the way I decorate to the way I dress.

I never feel more at peace than when I'm in a garden.

You know you are a true gardener not by the size of your garden or blooms but whether you find yourself saying you have yard work to do or gardening.  Yard work implies hard labor, chores and sweat. Gardening is full of that but they are all a joy.

Gardening is rhythmic.  From the expectations of spring, the excitement of summer to the darkness of winter. Gardens mimic life.  I recently came upon the following words which are pulling me out of my sadness...

All is well. x


styling tricks of the country living photo shoot

I learned an awful lot from the Country Living photo shoot and I thought it'd be fun to share some simple ideas they applied to my house.  Now that I've seen what they did here, I can look back at almost every old magazine I own and see the same principles applied to other homes.  The magazines mission is to make the rooms as pretty as possible and to appeal to the vast majority, so function is not always the main goal for them.  I'm sure what I'm about to share, you already know but seeing these little tricks done in front of me really hit home.  Take the above photo for the kitchen photographs, they brought in tons of fresh kitchen towels, pretty soaps, nice baskets, flowers and even some pretty food products.  If all they had done was exchanged these items for the ones I owned, it would have been an improvement.  Of course they went further and actually styled the rooms but the trick here is that sometimes the things we use every day can get worn, tired looking and we can become blind to that.  Freshening them up can have a big impact.

The pantry is a great example of that idea.  Most everything in this room is mine but they brought in those 2 bottom baskets which hide lots of random things and give it an organized, clean look.  The dish towels stacked and the jars of fresh herbs from the garden, some pretty food packaging is a nice touch too. So use what you have in fresh ways.  Those towels came from Home Goods and I think they were $6 for a package.  They went so far as to take the labels off the bottled water which, 1. I never buy bottled water and 2. who has the time for that, but 3. it sure looks pretty.

In the above photo, that lamp next to the stove does not work for everyday use because I have very little counter space and I don't need the extra lighting so the lamp is gone but that pitcher on the warming shelf?  It stays because it's perfect for transporting water from the sink which is across the room. Same with the stack of platters, I don't know why I never thought of this before. Also, fresh clipped herbs next to the stove, so easy and so pretty.

This is where I had the painting Alex had recently given me before Country Living got here.  I knew I wanted it above the stove and they agreed so it's one of the first things we did.  Just moving things around is one of the best styling secrets I noticed.

Compare the above 2 photos.  Can you see how the stylist really filled the shelves?  It looks so good in the photo but in real life it's too hard to get to what I need on a daily basis.  These are all my things except for the dish towel and small potted plant.  How easy is this to freshen things up?  It helps if you have the eye of an excellent stylist like Janna Lufkin too. :)

Again, everything in this shot, I already owned, it's just being used in a new way.  The silver tray holding all the cups of essentials, the garden stool holding fresh towels and a new soap.  Simple.

I love the lemon tree that they brought in.  It gives the space such an open and airy look.  Of course a lemon tree won't live inside but another indoor plant might.  Simple cut branches from the garden in clear vases again, repeat the look.  The crystal decanters on the bar do the same thing.  I didn't realize it at the time but that open airy look really is pulling the whole house together.

I wasn't thrilled that they didn't want to use my old lamp but I have to say this clear glass one really carries out that airy feeling in here.  So the house begins to flow from room to room.  To me this shot would be perfection if those pillows were not on the bed.  I tried to put my foot down but you see what that got me.:)

Green healthy plants make such a big difference.  Also, love the way the trellis pattern on the pillow picks up the trellis pattern on the small side table.

And even though the living room was not included in the magazine, Those clear cylinder vases (purchased at the Goodwill) with fresh branches do look lovely.

I'm committed to...

1. Keeping fresh plants and greenery in the house.
2. Replacing old worn out towels in the kitchen/bath.
3. When i want a change, just move what I already own around for a whole new perspective.
4.  Keep things uncluttered, light and airy.
5.  Live as beautifully, simply and frugally as possible.

Oh and P.S.

Who knew?


the living room that didn't make the magazine

I found out that the reason the living room did not make the magazine was because of space issues.  I really, really wish it could have been included because a lot of work went into it and I would just love to be able to see the final pictures.  If you agree to have your home photographed you don't get any of the photos! None. It's been so hard waiting to see just how they all came out.  Seeing them online was good but when I opened the magazine I was so shocked at how lovely the photography was.  Roger Davies did such an amazing job.  Especially since he normally shoots for Architectural Digest and other high-end magazines.  Just look at the portraits he has shot here. I thought he'd be bored with shooting my house but he was the opposite.  He just reminded me on Instagram how much he enjoyed the days here with the White Stripes playing in the background.  He truly is a lovely, lovely man.

Anyway...so the top photo is what the living room looked like when Country Living got here.  And then this happened...

and this.

This is Janna Lufkin, the stylist.  Starting to mess around with some of the pillows she purchased.

And this

One possibility.

And another.

And while she was styling the pantry, I came up with this.

 The above 2 photos are my favorites of the whole shoot. (that I took)

Larry made that black bench about 20 years ago and it was at Alex's house.  Jana thought it'd look good as the coffee table.

Looks too narrow to me but she said they'd photoshop it.

I think this would have been the angle used in the magazine.  I think.  Anyway that's what went into styling just one room.  Each room was like that.  Painstaking attention to details like the way fabric draped, the angle of a book, the position of a pillow.  Each shot was sent to New York for approval before moving on.  If you are interested I can show you lots of other photos showing the preparation and styling of the other rooms.

I'd also like to take just a moment to thank you all for your sweet, kind and thoughtful words on Melinda's passing.  It's been a week now and I still can't believe she is gone.  I've read and re-read your comments and they've helped so much.  Thank you all, you truly are the best readers anyone could ever ask for.  I love you all. xo