Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Weekend Treasure Hunt: Estate Sales!

One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is to scour the local estate sales and see if I can find any treasures before the collectors do. The usual chain of predator>prey in LA goes: Estate sale > collectors > vintage stores / flea markets > us. If you want to get a good price, the early bird gets the worm.

This particular estate was a film director's home in Eagle Rock. There was some fabulous stuff here and I got to peek into the house of someone who was obviously a fan of chinoiserie and laquered, bold colors. Recall in an earlier post I said that rich people love Asian stuff? Well, true here too.

The company running the sale promised a "mid-century pagoda in the sky..." and the pictures were promising!

A few of my fave highlights...

This amazing black and white Hollywood regency bathroom with nothing to buy, but what a gorgeous peek. Those striped marble floors!

This cool velvet flocked damask wallpaper that went all the way up on the slanted ceiling. Not my style, but fun to look at.

Lots of books to choose from in a very red library...

A pair of very pretty faux bamboo nightstands...

...A peek inside the drawer told me they were Drexel, a very respected mid-century brand.

And my favorite stuff, the waspy tchotchkes like these horse head book ends and this greyhound figurine.

I loved this vintage Italian brass letter opener, but couldn't bring myself to spend $55 on it when my fingers open letters for free.

Walked out of this one empty-handed, but the best part of the treasure is the hunt!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mangoes and Oranges and Loquats, Oh My!

Growing up on the East Coast, I was obsessed with growing my own food. One of the things I always dreamed about was having fruit trees in my yard - but alas, the closest we ever got was some juniper berries. My dad caught me eating flowers once, but that's another story.

Enter California! Dun dun dun!

When we first moved in to our house here in Los Angeles, one of the most fun things was figuring out what all the mystery trees around our yard were. I prayed for fruit.

Turns out the one cloaked in shadow on the right is...

Ta da! A mango tree!

Anyone who knows me knows that mangoes are my absolute favorite-est fruit and I would marry a mango if fruit-human relations unions were legal. My lifelong dream is to have a mango tree in my yard, and here it is. Dreams really do come true! *sob!*

Unfortunately, I didn't foresee the asshole squirrels...

Every morning, I would find one of my mangoes torn off the tree with one bite taken out and the rest discarded. I mean, one bite? ONE BITE?! Didn't your parents ever tell you there are starving kids in China, squirrel?

I still don't exactly know what kind of tree is on the left in that same pic up top, but fingers crossed it's a loquat tree:

My mother grew up eating these fruits in Taiwan. Here in LA, I've never seen anyone eating them, but I definitely see a lot of these trees dotting our neighbors' yards.

We also have a tree by our driveway. For the longest time, I thought it was a lemon tree, til I noticed the fruit were all staying green. Then I thought it was a lime tree, but come spring...

Oranges! Complete with fragrant and beautiful white orange blossoms!

Since there were so many oranges we couldn't keep up, and they were beginning to weigh the top branches down, I picked a little harvest a few weeks ago. A quick bath in our farmhouse sink...

And off they go to the neighbors.

Ahhhh...fruits. Is there anything they can't do?

Future plans: an avocado tree, a lemon tree, and a fig. But one thing at a time.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Great Danes

Had a chance to stay in the adorable Landsby Hotel in Solvang, California, a weird adorable little Danish town nestled in Santa Ynez Valley (of Sideways fame) that was settled by Danish pioneers in 1911.

Having been to Solvang previously, I never understood why the town didn't capitalize more on the trendiness of the Danish and Scandinavian aesthetic and interior design. The majority of the buildings feel like they're out of a Hans Christian Anderson storybook, replete with windmills and thatched roofs. The majority of the hotels are motels, and the stores are stuffed with touristy tchotchkes with little windmills and angelic dolls. It's cute and all, but certainly on the campy side.

But then in sweeps the Landsby, like a hurricane of interior design and good taste. Somebody realized that Danish modern was, like, a thing, and finally decided to capitalize on it. And they did it beautifully!

The hotel is decked out with some seriously gorgeous design choices. Check out the waiting area by the check-in desk:

Love that bench! The hotel bar...

Small tile details on the stairs...

The restaurant/breakfast room:

...and the gorgeous lobby:

Well done, Landsby! For this appreciator of modern Danish furniture, you certainly pressed a few buttons. Of course, when I wanted my thirst for camp quenched, there was still plenty of that in the rest of Solvang. Plenty of quaint little streets and adorable stores:

In an old book store, I found these awesome old Time-Life Mysteries of the Unknown books- a series I used to beg my parents to mail-order for me (they didn't).

What's that, you say? You want a toy that was made to capitalize on a NASA launch that later became a national tragic disaster? Here you go:

Who wants a horse-drawn carriage ride? How about a trolley ride? No? How about a horse-drawn trolley ride? (Has anyone called the ASPCA about this?)

Last but certainly not least were these delicious Danish pancakes with Danish sausages and cinnamon-spiced apples from the historic Paula's Pancake House. If you go, make sure to go early, or else expect to wait in line.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Cord Wrangler

They call me...the Cord Wrangler.

I'll say it once and I'll say it again. I'll shout it from the top of the mountains:

I! Hate! Cords! Die, cords, die!

With our ever-growing dependence on technology, our house is slowly becoming a rat's nest of wires and cables from our multiple computers, laptops, monitors, hard drives, routers, speakers, and the like. So messy. So ugly. So... cordy.

I was reminded of this when we moved. Behind our TV was a huge tangle of cords, cables, AC adaptors, and plugs leading to who knows where. My OCD was triggering.

In an effort to make the home theater look cleaner, we'd already upgraded to a media console with closed doors (had to install an infrared remote to get the remote to be able to work through the doors). But man, just LOOK at the hellish landscape of wires beneath the thing!


In an attempt to remedy this...er, situation, I bought me a swiveling surge protector on the advice of my dear technologically inclined friend, and some 3M Command Strips, which I've decided are the spice of life. Isn't that how the saying goes? Command Strips are the spice of life? Seriously, these things can do EVERYTHING. Organize boots. Hang curtain rods. Show art. Did I mention rid your life from the rat's nest of cords that are plaguing you every time you look at your television?

I hired a professional electrician to mount the TV on the wall and hide the cords behind the drywall. Then I promptly let all those other organizational tools sit on top of the media console for another 2 months, further exacerbating my problem.

Finally, today I broke down and did it. I cracked it like a mathematical proof, piece by piece. I'm Beautiful Minded this dilemma!

First I unplugged everything and labelled the cords with washi tape and a Sharpie - yep, all 12 of them. That way, when deciding what to unplug, I'm not randomly pulling power from, say, the Wifi in the middle of a live stream about Star Wars. Just for example.

Then using the sticky strips from Command Hooks...

...I attached the surge protector to the back of the console. (Forgot to take a pic, whoops.) Then, using zip ties, I wrangled each cord so it was the minimum length needed to reach the plugs to prevent confusing tangles. Lastly, I stuck more command hooks to the back of the console and used them to hook any loose wires or wrangled cables together so it would be tidier. Phew!

I'll be honest, it ain't pretty to look at from the back...

... but it's a party in the front.

Here it is again! I hate to see you go...

...but I love to say hello.

Next up, I've got to wall mount that sound bar and hide the wire behind the dry wall (the single cord is killing me!) and figure out a solution for the fugly router and the bass amplifier. If anybody has any ideas for pretty-making that won't compromise sound and/or wifi access, let me know! And yes, I know it probably involves getting rid of that damn tattered cat scratcher.

Til then, death to cords!

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Well, a month ago I promised a look at our new built-in bookcase (and then I promptly didn't update the blog for a couple of months. It was the holidays, sue me. (Please don't.)

So as I mentioned in my past post, we brought in our contractor to build in some floor to ceiling bookshelves, fulfilling one of my (and Alex's) lifelong dreams of having a big-ass bookshelf. I know, we're easy to please. I scoured photos of hundreds of photos of bookshelves til I finally decided that having a white and solid walnut unit with adjustable shelves would be perfect for our new space - modern, but still warm.

Here's the before again (unfortunately I don't have a before before, but you can imagine: it was just a big blank wall, just screaming for someone to fill it with something):

And here's the finished product. Drumroll...

I haven't properly styled the shelves yet; right now they are pretty much just stuffed with books grouped loosely by genre (most of my books are still in storage* in New Jersey). But gimme a few months, I'm sure I will have plenty to blog about as I figure out the perfect combo of books, pretty things, Peabody Awards, and random tchotchkes. Note we finally put in a new chandelier light as well. I can (and will) fill dozens of posts on Why I Hate Light Shopping.

It's been my favorite addition to the house because it makes it truly us - if there's anything I have that I feel is a true reflection of me as a person, it's the books I have read, as they represent parts of my mind and how I think, as well as different phases of my life (cf. my illustrated Strunk and White's Elements of Style vs. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickenson v. Not Milk? Nut Milks!)

Anyway, ta da! Gonna work on my #shelfie skills as we get settled; in the meantime, I'm tackling more important and timely issues, such as Cable Management 101 and How to Fix a Leak In Your Very First Grown Up House.

*By "storage," I mean my parents' basement, amidst what I'm sure are dead cricket spider carcasses that I don't want to know about.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Blank Space

But not like the Taylor Swift song. This blank space is our new house.
When we first saw our future home, it was beautifully staged.

 Of course, that's very different from how it looked when we moved in.

But ya gotta start somewhere, right? I'm not one to buy out the entire living room section of West Elm and have our house polished from head to toe the first week we move in. I like to go slow and take my time with each piece, moving and changing things, switching out pieces of furniture or decor, as we grow into our home. My first move: make this home ours.

If there's anything Alex and I have in common in terms of our background, it's our mutual love of books, books, and more books. We both wrote (multiple) novels and were avid readers at young tender ages.

My third grade bestseller, Mr. Mole's Glasses

And so, sans furniture, sans appliances, the one thing we decided to splurge on to make this home truly ours--even before we had anything else-- is to build in the bookcase that we have always dreamed about, using this Design Sponge pic as my inspiration:

I asked our contractor, who's also a carpenter, to build in a floor to ceiling shelving unit right by our dining area. This way, we can pull books at random off the shelf while we eat, or they can be topics of conversation when we have guests over. Here it is, in progress. He used solid walnut for the vertical inserts to match our floors.

Wait for the reveal on the finished project in my next post! In the meantime, this is the blank space we were starting with.

 And here's me, waiting in an empty house for the refrigerator delivery guy to come.

Just me and my vintage salmon handwoven Persian rug.