Monday, April 30, 2012

Consolidating & Simplifying!

Visiting this blog today you might be a little confused, asking what's with the new header and name? Well, a couple months ago it occurred to me I needed to consolidate and simplify, remember this post?

Okay, things have gotten out of hand! When I launched House of Fifty mag, of course I also created a House of Fifty website, blog, facebook, twitter account, later adding a Pinterest page. Seriously?!?! I feel dizzy. All in addition to this blog and the Isabella & Max facebook and twitter accounts.

Then a couple of days ago I literally stopped in my tracks and thought, duh, time to consolidate! I basically post the same information on both and at times even repost a post from one blog to another."

So I've also decided to consolidate the blogs into one, continuing to post on this blog, but with a name change that is keeping with my focus to continue building and growing House of Fifty. 

And as a reminder, from that first post, if you'd like to continue following me on facebook, follow the House of Fifty facebook page.

If you want to continue following me on twitter, make sure you are following me at HouseofFiftymag.

Seriously, we only have so much time in each day to manage all this social media, get our work done and also have time for the other things that are important in our I've taken the leap to simplify and consolidate!

Phew, I feel better!

Is there anything you've done lately to simplify your life?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Living In The Future

Who doesn't, from time to time, wonder what the future will hold? What amazing things will be created, technologies and inventions which will become part of our daily much so that we'll then forget at one point they could have only existed in our wildest dreams.

When I grew up in Nome, the only technology in my life was a radio which broadcast two local stations and the one telephone attached to a wall in the kitchen. (Not even a simple TV with a channel or two was available.) If I really stretched the phone cord it could extend far enough to allow me to tuck myself away in the bathroom with the door closed, for a private chat with my best friend.

If I stop to compare that to my life today, the contrast is truly astonishing.

This struck me on a late afternoon this past weekend. The kids were reading and I was catching the end of a movie on my iPad, lounging outdoors on the first gloriously warm day of the year. Max came out, sat beside me and asked what the movie was about. Margaret Thatcher. Who? She was the Prime Minister of Britain. Asking more questions I couldn't adequately answer, I paused the movie, searched on her name and was promptly able to find the answer to any question he could possible ask.

Then a text came in, wanting to know if Max was free for something later in the week, to which I promptly responded after opening my calender to confirm there weren't any conflicts.

He wandered off, and I finished up the end of the movie and then checked my mail before heading back in to start dinner. (Now, if only such devices could also whip up a delicious meal - I'd be delirious.)

All on a simple little tablet weighing nearly nothing. I walked into the house waving it at my husband, saying "I LOVE this thing!! If I had wanted to know something about someone when I was Max's age I would have had to open the encyclopedia! I can't imagine how insane it would have been to have access to something like this, with all it can do and give you access to. I couldn't have imagined."

So, I swear...I'm living in the future. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This Corner Needs A Light!

When wrapping up work on the master bedroom it occurred to me a light in this corner, on the wall above the far end of the settee, would be a great idea. But you know how it goes...after completing a long list of projects you start to run out of steam! {and money}

It's a cozy little corner, great for a few minutes of reading...if I could see!

With little room for a lamp or floor lamp, a wall sconce is the way to go.
Here are a few favorites that I'm considering:
Swing Arm Wall Sconce in Hand Rubbed Antique Brass from Circa Lighting

Single Library Wall Sconce from Circa Lighting

Robert Abby Patina Bronze with Linen Shade from Lamps Plus
Hyde Park Weathered Brass with Black Parchment Shade from Lamps Plus

These are all plug-in, as there is no wiring here and I want to avoid having to hire an electrician. 
I have a clear favorite, now I just have to decide whether or not to hit the purchase button. 

{I'm finding that harder and harder to do these days!}

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jenny Does It Again

Have you seen this latest DIY project by Jenny Komenda? 
She always takes her projects to the next level! 

This time, painting a dresser with an "inlay" pattern. See how she did it here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rediscovering A Lost Love

Just what am I talking about? Reading. And of the book variety.

For years, with the arrival of kids and then getting back to work...and the blog, I found little time for reading anything but other blogs and a magazine here and there.

But now that I'm working on House of Fifty, leading the Books On Our Shelves articles, I've put reading back into my week and it has been like rediscovering a lost love!

The above is one of the several read for the latest issue which is coming very soon, and I'm sharing it here because this book is fantastic! It's rare, I think, when a book actually changes your outlook on how you are living your life. A definite must-read recommendation, if you haven't already.

The latest I've just finished won't be making any favorite lists, 'something blue.' While overall it was a fairly entertaining read, the main character irritated me beyond belief for the first 180 plus pages with her irresponsible and shallow characteristics. Maybe that was the point, but...that is a lot of pages to get through, to reach the point where she finds her "redemption." {IMO}

Look for the list of all the books that did make my summer reading list, in the Anniversary issue of House of Fifty coming May 7th.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What You Spied Was Not What I Spied...

Funny, most of you spied the lampshade as something that would get a dose of color. 
And while that is not what I had in mind...perhaps it will be next!

Instead I spied the bird cage.

While I can't afford to hang the Chiang Ming Dragon wallpaper I've been longing for,
I still love the colors, which work so well in my home.

So I pulled out some paints, mixed a pinkish coral and got to work.

An hour later I had this.

It works for me. I'm finding my attempts to bring in big doses of color just doesn't work well in my home. Recall my recent idea to paint my kitchen walls? YIKES. But little bits here and there in accessories and smaller pieces of furniture seems to be the way to go.

This small update of color also works really well with a little beauty that is on it's way to my home. 
Can't wait to share what it is!! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Spy...

While clearing off the table in the dining room the other day, after having people over to eat a delicious carrot cake I baked up, my eye decided it wanted to see an additional dash of color in this spot.

It won't take long, I've got the supplies on hand. 
Can you spy what will be getting a little attention later today?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Little Treasure Hunt

This past Sunday, after enjoying a delicious breakfast at Bijou Cafe...
(you must go there if you are in the area or visiting, my all-time favorite breakfast spot)

...I dragged the family to the last day of the 70% off close out sale of Madison Millinger,
a long time high end carpet shop here in Portland.

Even at this reduction these were out of my price range, 
and of course there wasn't a whole lot of options left by the last day of the sale.

But on my way out, what did I spy? 
A Jonathan Adler Maurice side table, in my price range!

So in the trunk of the car it went, with a sigh of relief from my family.
Time to get home and go on a bike ride to a big open field.

Max just got a new frisbee that can go nearly forever, so we wanted to test it in an open space. 
The neighbors are getting tired of requests to fetch it for us,
 having landed in their backyards one time too many.

The Aerobie Pro, if you're interested...what fun!

But back to my find. One can not have too many little side tables in my opinion, and this one is just right here.

(p.s. Sorry for the awful iPhone image, my camera battery has just decided not to charge.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hungry For A Delicious Treat? My Latest Discovery

Always on the lookout for healthy food options that taste fantastic while satisfying, I was over the moon upon sampling a slice of Sin Dawg made by Dave's Killer Bread at Costco this past weekend. In the cart it went! I'd heard about Dave's Bread, but hadn't yet partaken. Well...what a wonderful bit of deliciousness I have been missing out on!

Like the most yummy cinnamon roll, but better, and with not one ounce of guilt.

{Plus it's a local business based here in Portland, with an inspiring story behind the products made of organic, healthy ingredients and a big focus on giving back to the community. Gotta love that.}

But back to my plate...

Yep. Empty.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

If I Were Selling...

People who live in my town are suspicous of my claim there is no house move in the works...I have a reputation and I'm not living up to it! Alas, I do believe those days of buying, "prettying up" and selling at a profit in rapid succession are over. But, if I were putting our house up for sale and stood to bank a big return, this is probably the look I'd be shooting for next. (Though not quite so large!) Modern with enough classic elements to keep it familiar and comfortable. While I'd mix up the furniture and bring in more color...the architecture is spot on.

Clean lines and metal framed doors warmed by paneling and endless windows.

I'd want to replace the table with something more organic and bring in color through the chairs, 
but adore this space with it's dark floors and open ceiling.

Again, just enough traditional to keep the modern welcoming.
I'd pick up a gray from the stone floors for the cabinetry color.

In the mud room and bedroom I can't think of a thing I'd change!
Oh, yes I can...a taller bed and some happy color and pattern on pillows.

And while I don't have this home, I DO have that little tripod side table in silver with the ring. 
It was a steal from Target for around $25. 
It's presence here kind of amuses me...grounding the home in at least a bit of reality?

And so, despite the current economy, here's to dreaming...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back When I Had Time For This Kind Of Thing...

The other day I spotted this stenciled tray tucked away in a corner, and thought, now that isn't a very good spot for it! How about placing it on my newly painted table?

And it looks just right here. Finally, it's found a good home.

Then I hopped over to to copy the tutorial I wrote while working on this project. Scrolling through the steps, I know for certain I was a little crazy when working on this tray - what a lot of work, for a tray! But I truly enjoyed working with HGTV, and did my best to produce good work...and I'm happy, after the fact, to have such a pretty tray!

Just in case you find yourself with some spare time to stencil a tray yourself, here are the steps:

Materials Needed:

  • wooden tray
  • stencil
  • paint in two complementary colors
  • sanding pads, medium and extra-fine grit
  • ruler
  • painter's tape
  • tack cloth
  • paintbrush
  • small artist brush
  • polyurethane

Gather Materials

Select tray, stencil design, paint colors and additional materials. Tip: Consider using a stencil featuring a single damask motif or other pattern to center on tray surface. 


Sand Tray

Remove protective finish from tray surface, using medium-grit sanding pad, to allow new paint to adhere.Tip: Begin with unpainted tray to eliminate this step.

Prime Tray

Apply primer to all surfaces of tray with brush. Let dry two hours.

Sand Tray

Using an extra-fine-grit sanding pad, sand away any rough spots prior to painting. Wipe tray clean with tack cloth.

Paint Tray

Apply selected paint color to all surfaces of tray with brush. Let dry four hours.

Sand Tray Between Layers of Paint

Sand away any rough areas or brush marks using an extra-fine-grit sanding pad. Wipe tray clean with tack cloth.

Apply Second Coat of Paint

Brush on second coat of paint to all surfaces of tray. Let dry four hours.

Center Stencil on Tray

Position stencil design on tray. Measure placement to ensure design is centered. Secure in place using painter's tape.

Paint Design With Stencil Brush

Paint design onto tray with stencil brush using a dry brush method to ensure sharp paint lines. This is done by dipping tip of brush into paint and removing excess paint on paper towel.

Fill in Stencil Design

Dry brush stencil cut outs with paint using a stippling method, which is tapping the brush repeatedly over stencil opening. Press down stencil while stippling to prevent paint seepage.

Run Stencil Design to Tray Edges

If using a design that will run up to edges of tray, bend stencil at tray edge and hold in place while stippling.

Complete Stencil Design

Use small paint brush to fill in any unpainted sections of stencil design. Let paint dry four hours prior to applying protective finish.

Cover Tray With Protective Finish

Apply protective finish to entire surface of tray with brush. Let dry two hours.

What project do you look at and ask yourself, "where did I find the time and energy for that?!?!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Slip On A Pair Of Wedges!

It's Spring...Time for Wedges!

An endless collection of styles are available these season and here are some of my favorites.

All colors and a variety of heel materials - which would be your pick?

If I had to pick one pair to come home with me, it would be the below beauties from Via Spiga.

Can you blame me?
All styles available from Nordstrom.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Have A Wonderful Weekend!

With Easter Weekend upon us, here are two favorite projects I've spotted recently. One a delicious treat and the other probably the most beautiful decorated eggs I've ever seen.

Cheesecake Filled Chocolate Easter Eggs..."Stephcookie" at Raspberri Cupcakes makes it look easy!

And with the treats taken care of, how about these simply exquisite eggs?
Created with temporary tattoo paper, here are the steps and the link.

Step 1: Begin by downloading free images from and

Step 2: Arrange them in a Microsoft Word document, resizing each to fit on an egg.

Step 3: Print the images on tattoo paper, cut them out, and adhere to blown-out eggs, following package instructions.

(I think I'll be trying the Chocolate Eggs) Have a wonderful weekend! Janell

Friday, April 6, 2012

Big & Bigger Art

Sometimes selecting one or two larger pieces of art for a room can be more effective than several smaller choices. Here is a collection of kids rooms that go big when it comes to dressing the walls.

How fun is this vintage style poster?

And this is one of the best diy ideas I've seen, ever. 
Shrink children's masterpieces down to create one large piece of art, collage style.

And what about a large vintage school room map, I've always wanted to get my hands on one of these!

A simple large black and white print brings in a wonderfully bold graphic element.

Fresh and modern nursery by Lee Kleinhelter for her son.

A bit of whimsy in pieces depicting the outdoors is light and sweet in a nursery.

A print by Faile introduces a bit of edge...

...while a surfer poster lends a casual vintage vibe to another kid's space.

Large but somehow understated due to muted colors, nearly an entire wall is covered by a world map.

And my favorite example is a room designed by Fran Keenan featuring a large canvas by Amy Pleasant, seen in the holiday issue of House of Fifty mag.

Next time I'm looking for art, I want to go BIG!