Monday, December 29, 2008

Reuse and Repurpose: Have a Ball!


Over the years we’ve collected so many Christmas ornaments that we don’t always know what to do with them when it comes time to put up the tree. This year, though, Veli took some of our silver, glittery orbs and grouped them around a red-robed Saint Nick that he perched atop my favorite John Derian cake pedestal. They sit behind the living room railing and look down into the dining area, brightening the room with a bit of unexpected holiday cheer.








In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Crafty Creations: Hard Candy Christmas

Even though the economy has us cutting back this year, you can’t put a price tag on using your limitless creativity for making one-of-a-kind holiday cards that everyone will remember. In years past, I’ve cut out snowflakes from silver paper, repurposed old Christmas wrap and stamped and glued for holiday cards that I enjoy making, and hopefully, recipients enjoy receiving.

This year I took two of my favorite photos-- one of a duo of Christmas votives painted by my mother and paired with an add-water-to-grow snowman that Veli bought last year, and the other of a pile of broken candy sticks heaped into a vintage candy dish accented with bows and ribbons – and affixed them to cards with old-fashioned photo corners.

Inside the card featuring my three handsome snowmen, I wrote a traditional wish for the season. But for the candy-themed card, I wanted to send a funny message that hopefully made people laugh and looked to one of my all-time, favorite tunes, “Hard Candy Christmas” sung by Dolly Parton in the film, “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. ”

“I’ll be fine and dandy. Lord, it’s like a Hard Candy Christmas,” she sings. “I’m barely getting through tomorrow, but still I won’t let sorrow bring me way down.”

Here’s to a hopeful 2009!



In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Easy Entertaining: Mugs Up

Almost everyone I know has a hodgepodge of coffee mugs that have little in common and hog up too much cabinet space. However, if you can narrow the themes of your mugs and eliminate the ones that don’t fit in, you can create an instant collection that appears curated and exudes personal charm.

When I was in Palm Springs photographing the home of GQ creative director Jim Moore for my book The Find, he showed me a collection he created with mix-and-match mugs featuring logos from local businesses. And then when I came home for Christmas just a few days ago, my mother had done the same thing with all the colorful mugs she’d collected over the years and set them in a silver-tone tray just waiting to be filled with a fresh cup of coffee or warming mulled cider.


In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Gift of Thrift: Hooch for the Holidays


My friend Aimée Morris may seem all sweet and innocent on the outside, but snap open the hooch bag I gave her for the holidays and that image may be dashed straight away!

I found this marvelous bag at a thrift store that was going out of business -- its price knocked down to a couple of dollars. I was attracted to its caramel coloring, its matching suede insets and the intricate metal work around its clasped opening. This thrift-store treasure could have lived comfortably among a collection of fancy Miu Miu bags, but instead it hung unceremoniously on a pole among beach totes and plastic purses.



Just like Aimée – demure with delicate features – the bag is the perfect foil for a tempting pile of contraband: miniature bottles of booze, sinful chocolate half dollars and rolls of mints emblazoned with fake $500 bills. But for Aimée’s true sweet side, I added a package of Boscia California Orange blotting linens, a container of Ole Henriksen black currant complexion oil and a tube of DKNY Be Delicious lip balm.

So watch out boys! Aimée’s ready to whoop it up in the New Year with a minibar to-go, a bag of chocolate delights and a beauty touch-up kit all wrapped up in one hooch bag!

Here’s to tons of hoochie-coochie in 2009!


In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reuse and Repurpose: Breaking the Mold


As I’ve been showing off galleys of my book The Find, which will be published by Clarkson Potter in May, this sculpture is always greeted with rapt curiosity. I snapped this image as I was scouting fashion designer John Bartlett and master framer John Esty’s West Village apartment for print consideration. And it most certainly appears a couple of times in The Find, professionally photographed, of course.

Made out of four triangular terrazzo molds, the treasures held inside inspire the imagination: an old clock, a misplaced ruler, chair spindles, a paint brush and a rusty horseshoe thrown in for good luck.



In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Easy Entertaining: Take it Away!

I love having a special memento from a fantastic party – one where the hostess tapped into her creativity for a personalized affair. When I invite guests over, I like to offer them the same, especially when there are copious amounts of food left over that I know I will never be able to consume.

Instead of packing extra goodies up on paper plates or in plastic containers, I always reach into my supply of odds-and-ends china plates that I’ve picked up on my thrift shopping adventures and load them up with a tasty treat for the road. I never worry about any markings on their reverse sides – just that they are attractive and free of cracks and chips. I even let partygoers select their own plates, perhaps one that they’ll be able to use once they get home, or pass it along to someone else who will enjoy it as much as they, and I, once did.

In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Find: Chain Reaction

I think I was in fourth grade when my dad surprised me with a silver-plated ID bracelet from JC Penney for my birthday. A few years ago, I started wearing it again and thought of my dad each time I wrapped the chain around my wrist; I cherished the tarnished patina and the sentiment it embodied. But it had a tricky clasp and would fall off when least expected, and sadly, my bracelet vanished about a year ago.

Recently, I found a “temporary” replacement that carries with it much of the love and warm memories as the original. Handcrafted by Elizabeth Teich of ETC Modern Vintage (etcmodernvintage.com), the bracelet enchanted me with its Boy Scouts pendant -- one that reminded me of my own brief stint in the club where I learned things like decoupage and Native American beading. The pendant is paired with a vintage Belgian coin from 1954 -- one she may have found at a Long Island antiques dealer whom she adores visiting. “It’s like visiting your grandfather with a zillion stories to tell.” And then there’s the brown plastic bead – unassuming with just enough color -- that I found intriguing.

Liz told me it came from a necklace once owned by her mom, a jewelry dealer who taught her everything she knows about jewelry making. “The spiral wire design inspired by Hopi Indian designs, which has become my signature in my work, is the last thing she taught me before she passed away when I was just eight years old.” As Liz related her story, I fell deeper for the bracelet. She told me about her dad, an antiques dealer who is also named Stan, and about how she dumped an advertising director job to pursue her dreams as a jewelry designer.

The new bracelet carries the same weight as the old and clinks against my computer keyboard just like the other one did. And knowing its story makes me love it even more. “I also hope you keep enjoying your bracelet, but still find the one that your father gave you,” Liz wrote me. “The world works in mysterious ways, and I have a feeling you'll find it when you least expect it.”





In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Easy Entertaining: Table Talk Update

For those of you who wanted a closer look at the ceramic frog bud vase I featured in yesterday’s post, here he is. I love the expression on his face, just as if he let out a resounding R-I-B-B-I-T to attract a mate on a balmy summer evening. Perched upon a vessel shaped like a horseshoe, it may just be his lucky day!








In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Easy Entertaining: Table Talk

Sometimes a sentimental thrift find combined with an everyday objects you already have on hand can transform into unexpected centerpiece for a holiday table that sparks conversation and evokes whimsy.

One of my favorite estate-sale discoveries is a ceramic, horseshoe-shaped bud vessel that I found while thrift shopping with my pal Ruth Handel in Los Angeles. When I found it, I was immediately attracted to the funny frog perched on the arc of the container.

I’ve used him for several years as a decorative accessory in my apartment, but never to his full floral potential. So when it came time to create a holiday centerpiece, I moved him from the bedroom, placed him on a John Derian cake stand that my friend Veli Ivanic gave me last year as a loving Christmas gift, and the inspiration started to flow.

I looked over to the fruit bowl and noticed I had pears, miniature apples and shiny oranges all ripe for the picking. I arranged them around the container and then ran downstairs to the deli and bought $7 worth of white freesia and glossy red berries, which I cut into tiny sprigs and placed them into my bud vase.

Et voilà! A focal point on a holiday table that looks good enough to eat -- and we did!



In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Gift of Thrift: Fully Framed

This summer while touring the Istrian Coast of Croatia, I ran into a duo of tourist information panels that my Parisian travel pal Catherine Jouault and I thought were so funny that we had to capture them in photographs. The signs were at the entry to the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec alerting tourists as to what was forbidden within the church grounds: bikinis, copious cones of gelato, cigarette smoking, pointers or cocker spaniels and mobile phones.

The graphics of the signs caught our attention – one in contemporary black and white and another in realistic pastel sketches. So when it came time for Catherine’s visit just a few days ago, I wanted to offer her a memory of our wonderful time there, so I created this thrifty duo out of next to nothing.

I touched up the images a bit on my Mac, printed them out on photo paper and then placed them in black metal frames I found at Housing Works for 75 cents apiece. The themes of the images and the black frames tie them together as a unit, but the style of each one makes them a unique set of original art for Catherine to take back home to Paris.



In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Easy Entertaining: You've Been Tagged!

Throwing a party at home always inspires me to discover ways to incorporate what I have and to find new vision for objects beyond their intended uses. The holiday season is a perfect time to start training your creative eye to experiment with ways to make your celebrations memorable – and ones that your RSVPs are responded to with a resounding YES!

None of my champagne flutes match, and I like it that way. Matchy-matchy is boring, whereas a whimsical assortment invites intrigue. Because of the clear, luminescent qualities of my glasses, they always look good together, whether they are crystal-cut Waterford or Pier-One bargain, especially when the champagne sparkles within their shimmering confines.

I always stay away from paper or plastic cups, not just because it’s not ecological, but because it doesn’t seem worthy of a fine champagne. But even when my glasses don’t match, guests can never seem to remember which one they started drinking from, especially as the evening progresses.

So to avoid confusion, I found paper tags that I had purchased at Staples, wrote each person’s name on them, affixed a fanciful sticker from John Derian’s Target collection and tied them to each glass. And yes, this time I added a martini glass to the mix, especially for my fabulous friend Mark Ciolli who would prefer a good, stiff one over the bubbly.

Cheers!






In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.