What’s in a week? The most appalling secrets of Donna’s week off!.
December 13, 2011

OK, here’s the thing…I’m not used to having a week off with no plans. As in….I’m not traveling. I’m not sick. I’m just…not working. SO, I had planned to do all sorts of crazy productive things…things that really needed to be done(clean out closet/basement/litter box/car), but in reality… I only did a smattering of them. Oh well. Here’s what I did on my vacation, in pictures.

Put up Xmas lights, while listening to Chris Botti, drinking red wine!

Made this from things I had IN MY BASEMENT!!

The container is from Pottery Barn(and I have more downstairs from my son’s “Maine wedding” that ended up in NYC….so the birch, not quite the thing), the twigs I got at Nettleton Hollow-here…great source for all things twiggy….and the moss from..somewhere.

Here's a closeup...

It’s not the sturdiest creation I’ve ever put together, but as long as the wind doesn’t blow hard, and Baby Girl doesn’t get rambunctious…it should be fine, and I do love the way it looks!

Took my daughter to lunch at American Can Company(love the tree)!

I also needed a pedi badly(really they were awful), and I had a Groupon for one at Juste B-here…..on Fort Avenue in  Locust Point.

Hot stones between my toesies!!

When you walk in you immediately notice a difference at Juste B…no chemical smell. That’s because they use only water based polishes and removers…no bad chemical odors….much better for you and them. Loved the place!

Ingredients for Chicken Marbella...from Silver Palate's 1st book

Had some longtime friends over for dinner one Saturday night, and feeling a little nostalgic, made one of my old fav recipes….Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella-recipe here. The first time I made it was back in the 80s…and I felt so chic taking Chicken Marbella to a party….until a big pan of it spilled an oily, garlicy mess into the back seat of my Volvo…the car reeked of garlic for weeks. But I still love the dish…it’s amazing how simple ingredients like chicken, olives, prunes, garlic, wine and brown sugar can combine in the most delightful way.

Ready to pop in the oven...but wait, something is missing!

Something is missing all right…I forgot to put on the cup of brown sugar right before baking…and I will tell you-that is a key ingredient. It was pretty good anyway, but ain’t Chicken Marbella without the brown sugar. Made me sad.

Redeemed a Groupon at Casa di Pasta in Little Italy....

Their lasagna is the bomb….and the fresh pasta…is molto delizioso. Great little shop on Albemarle Street that is sooooo worth a visit!! Frank Vellegia’s Casa di Pasta-here.

Had an amazing dinner at Sotto Sopra on Charles Street....

And then headed over to see The Lion King at the Hippodrome Theatre-here…if you haven’t…it’s a must see.

Amazing costumes...

I HAVE seen the show before, but I love it enought to see it again….wonderful production! The show is in town through New Year’s Eve, and the week after Christmas….they also have a matinee every day. What a treat for the kids to see this performance(the night we were there, there were LOTS of young children in the audience which frankly worried me, but the show is so mesmerizing-they were actually quiet!).

OK, the things I didn’t get done😦and this is just a sampling-there are more)…

Didn't giftwrap these shirts for my son....sigh...

Didn't take clothes to the cleaners, or mail these cd's to my sister!

So plenty remains on my to-do list…just like yours, I suspect. But there’s still time…a little, right?

The Power of Secondhand….never underestimate it….
May 4, 2011

This old kitchen table I got from a second hand shop....

You know today’s world is so easy come, easy go…throw it away, get another… that is not how I roll. I love second hand things, like the old kitchen table(above) that  I found at a consignment shop on Roland Ave. for $40(I cut the legs off to make it a coffee table for the family room) ..whether it was hand-me-downs for my kids when they were growing up(thanks older cousins)….or furniture that someone else no longer needed.

I love the finish....didn't change it a bit...

Some keepers I found on the street on bulk trash day(treasure day I call it). Like this little table that a neighbor didn’t want anymore….

I painted this street table a dark grey....

It was in pretty good shape structurally, I just painted it a dark grey…and it is quite serviceable. And let’s face it, re-use is the ultimate in recycling…it’s another thing that won’t end up in the trash dump.

Former strawberry carrier, now magazine holder...

This old strawberry carrier my husband brought home years ago…with pints of strawberries inside. I loved the way it was constructed and looked, and it fits three stacks of magazines exactly. The rocks I got from a beach on Vancouver Island(I think)….but the idea of using them that way I stole from a Pottery Barn catalogue. (I PB).

I just keep recovering them...

I have a pair of wing chairs that are very old…not like antique old…just old. But every time I think about getting rid of them, I find another fabric I like(the latest reincarnation is an Italian black and white linen, which my brother in law got for me for a steal), and change their look….like Madonna does hers!

My bro-in-law made this plant stand...

When that same bro-in-law was into woodworking( a long time ago), he made some plant stands and we each got one for Christmas. I just keep repainting it….right now it is dark grey(shocker).

Old, old, old paper mache vase...

 And sometime you can find odd, old things that just add a little something to a room for not much money…the Chinese paper mache(it weighs nothing) vase I found at Great Stuff by Paul in Frederick. They have all kinds of odd things from other countries…I think it was around $25…not much for a great touch of character!

Dreamin’ of spring…Pay a visit to my dream porch!
February 18, 2011

Where is my white wine?????

I was looking out over my back porch this morning, which to be honest, looks a little skanky. Yes, that’s word, because I just used it in a sentence. By skanky, I mean kinda bad. Patches of snow here and there(still), a dead tree in a pot that is actually turned over on its side, lawn chairs all akimbo, because we were using them to keep an ugly sheet of plastic over the fountain so it wouldn’t freeze, flotsam and jetsam all around….just skanky. The picture above is what my dream porch would look like(thanks Frontgate)…and here are some more….enjoy.

Also from Frontgate...very moderne....

This one is probably too sleek for me, but it has a look….

Love, love love the Provence-Restoration Hardware

This one I adore. No skank here at all. Restoration Hardware…..

Leagrave from Restoration Hardware....mmmmmmmm

All I want to know is…who’s gonna clip the hedges? I’ll light the candles.

Catalina Deep Seating.....you could sink right in...

How fabulous is this look? It’s from Great Gatherings in Annapolis! They have some great stuff(thus the name fits.)

time to read a book....

And this look is a little more formal, but soooo lovely…and solid. From Bazensky’s Furniture in Middle River…note the LIVE tree in the background, and it’s pot is not overturned. Skank-free zone.

Wow...just wow...

From Brown Jordan…just so clean and sleek, but inviting too…It’s called Canyon.The Palmetto. I could hang out here for a while....

And as usual, Pottery Barn  has it goin’ on…they just get it. Always have.

The Faraday, also from PB....

Another one from Pottery Barn…love the carved look…and while it looks like a living room piece, it’s from Eucalyptus wood, that is meant for outdoors. Love it.  In the meantime, I will try to clean up my scene outdoors…neaten it up…and think about getting something new for outside this spring. Keep dreaming of spring, get a little bouquet of flowers for yourself, and be extra nice to someone this weekend…and come home safe, ’cause we miss you.

More Apartment Therapy…..The Grand Tour
February 2, 2010

Ok, it’s just about finished. While there are still more clothes to move, the daughter is in….ensconced in her first pad, complete with a new cat, named Spencer. More in Spence in a minute. First, some apartment pics and where things came from….I always enjoy looking at pics of other people’s pads(ala the website Apartment Therapy)….so if you do too….here we go. The grand tour.

Entryway...love the boots and lampshade!

First her tiny entry area…hey, at least she has one, though it’s definitely  too small to call it a foyer. The lamp is one of the first things we purchased….from Paradiso on 36th Street in  Hampden. They have the coolest lamps, and the prices won’t scare you to death. Just love that shop. The narrow table(it had to be narrow) came from ETSY, a website Deborah  Weiner turned me onto…the things on it are made by an individual person.  It’s a great resource. The table  was supposed to be black, and we may yet paint it. Doesn’t offend me cream….just kinda blah. The mirror came from Ballard Design on sale…and the thing holding her mail is one of a couple of things we got at Great Stuff by Paul, in Frederick. It’s an old wooden Chinese rice scoop(($29)…and is perfect for mail. (I can’t go to Frederick without stopping in.

Cozy little sitting area in one corner of main room....

And speaking of Great Stuff by Paul….that is also where the antique Chinese window screen you see above came from($89)…they had at least a couple hundred of them. It’s such a great architectural feature, and covers a lot of space. We mounted it with velcro. Sofa from and lamp from Ikea(of course…the new apartment furnisher’s best friend), the white branch table on sale from West Elm, Thomas Paul “Nest” pillow from Gilt, the yellow flower applique pillow also from Etsy.

I've always loved this dresser..now it has a home...

This old dresser I inherited it from my Grandmother when I was a teenager…and I was the one who painted it red(yeah, that was a long time ago). My Mother said, “Are you sure you want it red?” It has become quite “distressed” over the years, but I hung onto it, knowing that someone would love it and have just the place for it one day. And this alcove in the apt, was the place(no doubt it used to house a Murphy bed). In fact, this red dresser was the basis for the entire color scheme for the room. It’s a great little dressing table with some pretty good storage, and my Mom would be so pleased it’s in her granddaughter’s apartment. The Thomas Adler wannabe lamp…is from Lamps Plus.

Definitely a statement piece....maybe our favorite find.

 The chair in front is something I consider one of our great finds, from Overstock. A superbright, mod print…and with lucite legs!! I love it! And here’s what I think…no matter what you’re looking for, if you don’t check on Overstock to see what’s there(and read the buyer reviews if there are any), you’re crazy, or have more money than sense…as Mom would say. You just never know what you’ll find there.  Like this crazy chair that wasn’t expensive.

My daughter loved this yellow toile duvet cover on Pottery Barn….it was backordered on their website, and kinda pricey. We found it for less on Ebay.

Love the chandelier...though it wasn't the easiest thing to mount.

Again, you never know what you’ll find there. Always worth a check. Bed  from Ikea. Side table a long ago buy from C-Mart(you C-Mart). And another great buy from ETSY….the wall decal that looks like a chandelier. While it was ummmm…a challange to put up, it was worth the effort….just love the look. And if  you go to the link above, you’ll see the incredible variety of vinyl decals available, everything from big giraffes, to birds on a branch, to chandeliers, to trees growing from the floor. Very modern, very chic, and an inexpensive way to cover a wall. Check it out.

More vertical storage....what every tiny apartment needs....

And another space and storage solution…this wall entryway unit we found on sale at Ballard Design….it’s in a small dressing area just outside the bathroom. Great for hanging coats and stuff, and extra storage. It’s one thing we learned from my son and the lovely Jennifer in a NYC studio…try to keep things vertical and on the walls, rather than sitting on the floor. Point well taken.

Meet Spencer!

And last but certainly not least….my daughter was dying for a cat….she loves herself some  kitties. So Sunday afternoon we went to the Falls Road SPCA (where there was a bumper crop of  people looking for pets) and found what may be the perfect cat for her. Spencer is 5 years old, and had been abandoned by owners who moved away and left him, if you can imagine such a thing. The neighbors fed him for a few months, and then finally brought him in. Spencer is without a doubt, a cat from whom other felines could learn a thing or two.  Totally relaxed and easy going, he loves to nap on the sofa, and has already made himself right at home. He jumped out of the cat carrier and stretched as if to say, “Yeah, I think I can hang out with you guys for a while.” Such a sweetie has a new home. Two sweeties actually. My girl is starting to feel at home in her new space…and while I really miss her(and I think she misses me too), she’s moving into a new phase of life…a whole new adventure…for her and Spencer.

The wedding finally gets put to bed…..so to speak…
November 16, 2009

The adorable couple, mossy twigs and lots of candles....

This weekend we had an overdue wedding party for our son and the lovely Jennifer here in Baltimore. For those of you who remember( and the even fewer who care)…he was married in NYC late May, in a small, but lovely garden wedding. But with a small wedding, there are lots of people who don’t get to celebrate with you…so for our friends here in Baltimore who have known my son since he was knee-high or so, and quite a few friends with whom he has stayed close since middle school, believe it or not…we all gathered Saturday for one last wedding hurrah.

Sorry I don't have a better picture....

Remember how I dragged a carload of stuff to NYC to decorate for a party Friday night before the wedding, and then had to drag all that stuff home? Candles, vases, flotsam and jetsam….well, a good part of the flotsam went to the restaurant in Federal Hill too.  I wanted a kind of woodsy, rustic look at Taverna Corvino  on south Charles St.

cypress topiary from Lowe's

So I took birch wrapped candles, birch bark containers (got on after xmas sale last year at Pottery Barn)with evergreen trees in them, lots and lots of pine cones that I bought off of Ebay  from Oregon…sugar pine cones that are HUGE! I love them….and one big, silver Mercury glass pine cone from Pottery Barn.( My family again got a big laugh out of my BUYING pine cones off Ebay…whatever.)

See? Big....

In the tall centerpiece above….I had a tall galvanized French flower container….I put florists foam in it and arranged white Mitsumata twigs(from Nettleton Hollow) that are about 3-4 feet tall. Added some hanging votives…and it looked really lovely…or at least the “artiste”(me) who created it thought so.

Good food( who doesn’t like lamb chops with olive tapenade and unbelievable mac and cheese….oh, and the restaurant was kind enough to order in 2 cases of Natty Boh for my son and his friends-they only carry upscale beers…the Natty Boh was all gone at the end of the night. ), old friends, and family….Jennifer’s fam was there too…a lovely fun evening. But I’m glad it’s over…it was on my mind for a while now…you know it needs to happen soon when you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. Now, until my next “worry project” comes along…sweet dreams for me.