Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy Chic: Jonathan Adler for HSN

I literally squealed when I saw Jonathan Adler's new line of housewares for Home Shopping Network. When I emailed some of the items to my friend Marianne, she said, "Emily, it's like that stuff was made with you in mind!" I KNOW, RIGHT? MUST PURCHASE.

I even love the name of this line: Happy Chic. Style doesn't have to mean snooty, and chic doesn't have to mean cold and austere. I do admit, though, that my fondness for bright colors and happy patterns, like these and Orla Kiely's, does have me concerned that my house is slowly turning into Pee Wee's playhouse. Oh well. Pee Wee seemed happy there, right? I can appreciate minimalism and all-white rooms and breeziness, but I need a healthy dose of cheery pattern around to keep me in a good mood.

Happy Chic is priced more affordably than Jonathan Adler's other designs, but not quite at Target-level cheap. I will have to save for some of these things or hope for them as Christmas gifts. Some of my favorites:

Peacock Pillows. At just under $100 for two, these are the priciest items in the collection, but I must have them. Still, when I drop $100 on pillows, especially ones with beading or other damage-able features, I really stress over anyone touching them or even leaning against them, which is quite counterproductive, considering they are pillows. These are just awesome enough for me to get past my issues, though (or maybe I would put them on my bed instead of on the couch, where they are in danger of Graham's peanut butter hands). I love that they are a set, and the peacocks face each other. Drool.

Pop Canister sets in red/orange (Caffeine and Carbs) or blue/green (Calories and Candy). Like I need anything else cluttering up my already teensy kitchen, but I am powerless to resist these. The fun font makes them feel sort of Christmassy to me. I might put them on the shelf on my back wall, or even in the glass-front cabinets.

Apple and Pear Tidbit Trays. Oh, my. So cute. Also candidates for the ledge shelf on the back wall, or perhaps to liven up the drab spot on top of the fridge

Tea towels in blue and green (also available in orange/pink). I have lots of fun tea towels: Orla Kiely's towels for Target, some Anthropologie clearance finds, and a few really cute patterns from World Market. I think hanging a pretty tea towel over the bar of my janky oven is the fastest way to make it look cuter and bring some personality to the kitchen. And even though I have a ton of tea towels (some might say--some being my husband--too many tea towels), I can always use more because they get dirty and need to be washed and replaced and cycled through pretty often. These are pretty reasonably priced at under $20 a set, and they'd make great hostess gifts (especially if I happen to be your hostess, har).

Mug Set in blue and orange. Okay, if I have too many tea towels, then I have waaaaay too many mugs. You can kind of see them in this photo, all stacked up in the upper right cabinets, threatening to fall on my head at any moment. But these are so great that I would probably use them on my desk at work, one for tea/coffee and the other to hold pens. My work cube is tragically greige and cluttered, and having these snazzy mugs would make a big difference. 

I like plenty of other items in the line, but these are my must-haves. I'm sure the Happy Chic line will be a big seller, and I hope that Jonathan Adler expands it later.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ruby Recap: Joel and Katrina's 40th Anniversary

I never meant to take so long to recap the Ruby Anniversary party. However, a lost SD card reader and my old, janky computer conspired to shut the ol' blog down for a month! Luckily my sister sent me some pictures of Graham's party so I could recap that. So sorry. Let's begin with how I spent my birthday: watching other people open presents. Just kidding! (Well, not completely, but at least sharing a birthday with your in-laws' anniversary means they'll never forget your birthday?)

I pretty much followed my inspiration board to the letter--in fact, right down to the tissue paper monogrammed letters! I ended up buying big cardboard letters from JoAnn (with 40% off coupons, of course), cutting tissue paper into 1.5" squares, twisting the squares, and hot-gluing the center of each twist onto the letters. Joel and Katrina loved them so much, they took them home!

On the interior table, I made a few centerpieces using white spider mums  and pink gerbera daisies. Take a look inside the vases--those are RUBY (well, plastic rubies) vase fillers I found at Target on clearance!

The dessert table maintained the pinky red theme, with a strawberry-topped angel food cake (Joel's favorite), some chocolate-covered strawberries, and a delicious birthday cake for yours truly, thanks to Seth's super-thoughtful sister.

[I sure wish I had gotten pictures of the food, especially the caprese salad and the melon balls that took For.Ever to scoop, just to prove how accurately I stuck to the inspiration board, but no such luck. We even had pretty jars of raspberry lemonade and sangria! I'm sure I was too hungry at that point to remember to snap pictures.]

Along the mantel and on some tables, we decorated with pictures of the happy couple from their courtship and their wedding ceremony. We included a copy of their party invitation, too, since it matched everything so nicely. I used white frames I already had, and I covered their normally black mats with red crepe paper so they would match. We scattered some spare "rubies" along the mantel for fun.

Outside was more festive red, orange, and pink, with the lantern-pom combo and Kara's handy tablecloth. We also had Izze juice drinks (in color-coordinated cans, naturally), plus water and juice boxes.

The party was a big success. All of the grandkids, including my Graham, contributed to some handprint art for Joel and Katrina, who loved the surprise.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010


So we discussed a hypothetical girl nursery earlier (something I'm still fine-tuning). In the meantime, however, this hypothetical baby number two has become a reality! We won't know the gender until almost Christmas, but of course that hasn't stopped me from obsessively planning and replanning nurseries for any scenario.

I love red with light blue, so I dreamed up this little retro toy-inspired nursery.

I would try to make (okay, have my mom make) a crib skirt and maybe a bumper with the ticking and sock monkey fabrics. I think I'm going to opt for a real changing table this time around--Graham's makeshift bookshelf-turned-changing table is seeming awfully creaky lately, and there are plenty of options on Craigslist most of the time. Graham's green fabric cubes served us well under his changing table, so we'll just swap those out for some red ones.

I want to re-use Graham's crib, but I'll need to find a new (old) dresser (Graham's still using his), which I want to paint red. This Ikea rug was the only red and white striped option I could find under $200 (way under, at 12.99), but it's small, so I would need two together. Also, it seems to be sold out everywhere, so I have to keep my fingers crosssed. I love the retro light shade from School House Electric; in fact, I've been eyeing it for my kitchen for some time. The size of it makes more sense in the nursery, though.

The room we're eyeing for the nursery (our current guest room) has two large windows side by side, which I'd like to either dress with red roman shades, or with roller shades painted like this, but with a red stripe and lettering:

(Image originally featured in Cottage Living, from

I think my next nursery attempts will involve shared room scenarios. My only fear with this is conflicting sleep schedules, but friends of mine have made it work okay. Either way, it's fun to plan! Pin It

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Graham's Mappy 3rd Birthday

The map-themed birthday was a big hit, especially with the guest of honor. We set up almost everything while he napped, and when he woke up and saw everything, he just kept saying, "Wow." It was the best reaction I could have hoped for. Although I like themes (okay, I have a theme sickness), I generally think super-specific themes are not worth the trouble and expense for toddler parties, but Graham is so OBSESSED with maps, flags, and globes that I felt like this theme would be worth it.

For decorations, we used (of course) tissue paper poms in lime, aqua, and orange, as well as hanging globe-printed beach balls. The colors were inspired by the bright map colors of his invitation. We placed some earth-printed and other solid-colored balloons around the yard, too.

Never one to miss an opportunity to beat a theme to death, I made little state maps for the food: Iowa (Caramel) Corn, California Grapes, Wisconsin Cheese, Idaho Potato Chips, and Georgia "Peanuts" (um, actually Nutter Butters, but you get the idea). We stuck to snacks because the party was at 3:00, between meal times.


My mom made the fantastic caramel corn, which we put in some DIY paper cones that I cut and stapled in coordinating paper.

We  went a little overboard on cake: Mom made a Tennessee-shaped chocolate cake, and I made cupcakes decorated with tiny state flags. Just about everyone had a serving of each.

The beverage table is covered in a fabric remnant my friend Mimi left at my house (thanks, Mim!). I think she had originally planned to recover a chair with this, but it made a perfect last-minute tablecloth. The beverage signs here  (Tennessee Tea and Florida Key Limeade) didn't turn out quite as planned--I had intended to tape them to the beverage jars but didn't think about condensation.  Oops. I ended up slapping them onto the lids, which I guess was okay.

We denoted the boundaries of the party (and of our yard) with some lines of flags (international, since I couldn't find any state flags like this and ran our of energy to make much more stuff). However, that didn't stop some Graham and his cousin Caspar for trying to ambush the golf course. Luckily, their dads intercepted them.
We got so lucky with the weather (70s and overcast!), so for activities we just put out lots of outdoor games and random seating throughout the yard and let the kids help themselves. We have a small cornhole set and a cheap ladder ball game (found at Aldi, of all places, for $5). We also left Graham's teensy Kangaroo Climber out, and we drug out his castle-shaped tent. All of these options made it easy for us to be fairly unstructured and just let the kids run around and be kids.

I resisted the tent at first, but Seth insisted, and it ended up being the hit of the party. We stretched the theme, figuring it was loosely related to the Grahamville idea, so we decided that Graham was king of Grahamville, and we stuck Seth's old prom king crown on him.

Oh, and a couple days before the party, I worried that there wasn't enough to do (ah, last minute freakouts) and ordered a parachute. The kids seemed to really enjoy it.

For favors, everyone left with a little bag containing an earth punch ball and some geography-themed treats: a Charleston Chew, Boston Baked Beans, and some flag-wrapped Tootsie Rolls.
Everyone had a great time, especially Graham. He's still talking about his "states party."

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