the slow path to a beautiful home

This past weekend M and I went to 2 wonderful estate sales.  One of the best things about going to estate sales is getting to see how people really lived their lives.  It used to make me sad, watching a bunch of strangers rifling through a deceased persons belongings. Now my focus is on the beauty that was woven into each of their lives.  You see the dishes they used each day, the art they looked at and the wear marks of a favorite chair.  It really is an absolutely fascinating glimpse into a life lived.

The first sale was a home in Sierra Madre, a pretty little town near Pasadena.  The gentleman that lived here was a collector extraordinaire. The company that organized the sale said it took them nine, 15 hour days to get it only partially sorted.  Imagine that. There is still a great deal that will have to be gone through and another sale will take place in the future. One of the rooms in the house was dedicated to his work and love of the Navajo. There were gorgeous rugs, baskets and a museum worthy photography collection. But there were also collections of butterflies, arrowheads, shells and axe-heads that he cataloged with painstaking detail.  Just check this out...

Above is just a small sampling of his shell/arrowhead collection.  Each and every one of these tiny shells and arrowheads has a notation on them as to the location it was found and the date. There are thousands of them!  Each arrowhead, each butterfly...everything was recorded in this manner. It's an incredible collection and the attention to detail is staggering.

The other sale we went to was in swank San Marino, an upscale town also near Pasadena.  It appears the lady of the house was at one time an antique dealer specializing in French antiques.  She was a lover of beautiful art, books and gardens.  It was pure joy walking through her home.  I picked up an old teak garden chair, a couple of old books to give as gifts and a lampshade that I thought might fit a lamp I had gotten at an estate sale about 2 years ago.  The shade is beautifully made but I wasn't sure it would fit.  For $3 I took a risk.

Here is what the lamp looks like...

The lamp was $5 and so pretty but I failed to realize how hard it was going to be to find a shade that fit it. But low and behold, 2 years later a perfect match was found.

Everything in this cabinet, including the cabinet itself was obtained 2nd hand.  I think that's why I love shopping this way.  It's a slow, steady and mindful path to beauty.

Those tiny pine cones were picked up last year while walking through Prince Charles' garden at Highgrove. I'm sure a definite no-no but I couldn't resist.  Inspired by the gentleman in Sierra Madre, I'm going to put a little notation on these pieces so maybe one day someone will see a story instead of just an object when they pick it up.  Decorating this way takes time but it is so rewarding.  Your house won't just be a reflection of your taste but will indeed tell the story of your life.  


probably pink

Well hello there. If you've been reading this blog for awhile then you know I really don't like the fact that my house is painted red.  I've always envisioned it white or gray or even black.  This waffling over paint colors has gone on for the 6 years we've lived here.  We do know that this house was pink at one time and I guess I like the idea of returning it to one of its former colors.  The house is 125 years old so I know it has probably been quite a few different colors.  Anyway, my mind has been made up.  Pink it is!  I know it is a far cry from white, gray or black but I think it will be perfect.  Above is just a small sample of  Lady Pink by Valspar.

As you can see in this photo, the pink to the right is one of its former colors.

The house needs painted in the worst way so all I have to do (besides gather the $) is narrow down the color.  I want it to be a pale pink but not peachy.  I think if any house was ever gonna be painted pink this cottage would be a good candidate plus pink is really just red's little sister.  I'm sure the neighbors will still freak out because everyone seems to love the red besides me but you know what?  They are just gonna have to get over it.


yoga garden

Hello there.  We've been busy giving the yoga a much needed face-lift.  See for yourself...

For impact sake lets see at how the garden looked when we got here.  You can use that huge Sego Palm as a reference point.  In back of it is a fountain that we've yet to get running but it's next on the long list of things to do around here.

It's amazing what can be accomplished with a machete and water.  That lawn has cooled this area down by about 10 degrees.

Looking left.  And now....

Looking right.  And now...

There is still work to do in this area. I am on constant bamboo watch, trimming and clearing ivy, repairing the fountain etc etc etc.  But I feel like we made an room addition to the house.

I've been having morning tea out here but the evenings are really so nice.  I have my eye out for some old garden furniture, but in the meantime we've been using those junk store chairs and an old wrought iron table. So that's what I've been up to.   What about you?


beautiful kauai

I have been back from Kauai for a few days now and have had a hard time getting into the swing of things.  I think that's a sign of a good vacation. Thanks to dear M who laid out the red carpet for me. She spoiled me rotten. She shuttled me around, fed me and kept me in stitches the whole time. It was so fun seeing what her life is like living on Kauai  vs being a tourist at a resort.

My beautiful hostess

Saying Kauai is beautiful really isn't sufficient. Its beauty is other-worldly and the colors are so vivid that it almost hurts. That top photo taken of the Nepali Coast is a perfect example. I took this with a crap camera and still...look at the colors.

I am now obsessively madly in love with the color pink.  This is the prettiest shade of pink I've ever laid my eyes on. The petals are soft and furry just like lambs ear. Here is its official name...

While hiking through the McBryde Botanical Gardens we stumbled upon these antique tiles that made up a short wall.

Long sleeves and long pants were the recommended garb for the botanical garden because of mosquitoes.

  I didn't want to get out of this gorgeous water.

Ho-hum...more staggering beauty.

I wore this vintage maxi because it would have been wrong not to.

Gorgeous view from our table at the Makana Terrace restaurant at the St. Regis.  

Super comfy striped maxi dress by Michael Kors.  Perfect for travel because it rolled up and didn't wrinkle plus hid all kinds of bodily sins.  I also like it because it is lightweight yet you can't see through it. Slits on the side make it comfortable for summer weather too.  I got mine at Marshalls but Amazon has it in case you are interested.

Spectacular waterfalls.

Waimea Canyon.

Following are a few snaps of M's house and garden.  She has always told me her house in Hawaii is nothing special because there is no shopping on Kauai.  There is a Walmart, Kmart and recently a Costco.  Few companies ship to Kauai either. There are no junk stores to speak of or antique stores either.  So everything she has here has been brought in suitcases and their original container when they moved here over 10 years ago. I fell in love with it all and knowing how hard it is to get things there made it all the more special.

Her garden

I can't imagine being able to go outside and pick a papaya for my morning smoothie.
So that's it.  I am so incredibly grateful to have visited and been so well taken care of.
Thank you M. x


i love packing

I'm heading off for Kauai to stay with my girlfriend M at her home there.  You remember M, you've seen here California house here and her garden here..   I'm so excited to see her Hawaii home, so I've got some packing to do.

I know a lot of people really don't like packing but for some reason I do.  Maybe because I've not traveled much or maybe it's just the challenge of packing light.  More likely the latter as I do love a challenge. When I went to Europe last year I probably spent 6 months packing in my brain, and I still didn't get it right.  So the gauntlet has been thrown down.

The first thing I do is write down how many days I'll be gone and then the activities planned.  I actually draw out the outfit combos (so strange) then I go to my closet and start pulling things out. Because I want to pack lightly, I want things that are easy to mix and match or that can be adapted to different situations.

This caftan is a good example. It's by Emerson Fry and I fell in love with it over 2 years ago.  At $248 I could never justify it but I've been stalking her outlet sale which she holds on Thursday's.  When it popped up at $40 I snagged it. I can wear it on the plane, to the beach, out to dinner/cocktails or even water my lawn in it. So obviously this is going in my bag. Other activities planned are some really beautiful hikes, snorkeling, botanical gardens and generally lazing about.  Besides some hiking clothes, a skirt, 4 tops  (2 fancy, 2 ordinary) and 2 maxi's are what's going with me.

I'm pretty stoked about this caftan as it will hide lots of sins and the whitest skin kauai has probably ever seen. My computer is staying home but if you are at all interested, I will be posting my 15 seconds of beauty on Instagram right here. Aloha.


almost summer

Nothing says summer better than yellow flowers.  One of my favorite clients brought me these freesia the other day.

I'm still not hating (world record?) the old iron sconces next to the mirror and that toile lumbar pillow Marianne made me.

Who knew junk could look summery.

This photo feels like a right proper gentleman may live here.  He doesn't, but can I mix you drink before a game of tennis?  Maybe it should be the other way around.  Whatever, it's almost summer and everyone knows there are no rules during summer. At least that's what my kids used to say...


elbow grease

I love this kitchen floor but all those tiny white tiles can get really dingy over time.  We wash the floor weekly but it gets lots of traffic and the white tiles were beginning to look grayish/brownish.  Larry came up with a 3 step process that works really well and keeps the floor shining.  I believe it would really bring life back into vintage or even antique tiles too.  It requires a bit of elbow grease but if you have 2 people it goes pretty fast.

You will need...

Hot water
A scoop or 2 of Oxi-clean laundry booster type stuff
A scrub brush
3 or 4 cleaning towels

After sweeping the floor well, one person uses the scrub brush dipped in the oxi-clean solution that has been dissolved into hot water to loosen all the grime.  The next person comes along with a hot wet towel to wipe it up and then a dry towel to buff it.

Go in small sections until the floor sparkles again.  It takes us about 30 minutes to do this floor.
It's good exercise and if you can get into it, somewhat meditative.  Just kidding, it's a pain in the ass but looks beautiful when finished.

Happy happy Friday the 13th!