They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Like banging your head against a wall.  Or year after year, thinking that just because they started selling pumpkins at the grocery store, the heat will break so I can wear sweaters and boots again.  This year will mark my 9th fall in Southern California and I am slowly but surely learning that the transition into autumn is a little more subtle at the beach.  It begins after Labor Day, when the crowds clear and tourists leave town.  I’ll be pleasantly surprised, for example, when we can get a table at Nick’s or find parking downtown.  Then the quality of the light starts to change.  Again, this is gradual. By October I might note that there’s such chill in the air at dinnertime that we need to shut all the doors and windows. My experience also tells me that there will be another heat wave, but it will be brief and temporary (and hopefully won’t fall on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day).  I guess you could say that my expectations seem more manageable this year.

And in the spirit of accepting the reality of the stubborn seasonal shift in Southern California, I am going to make appropriate choices and transition patiently.  Instead of reaching for those oh-so-tempting pumpkin branches at Trader Joe’s this weekend, I decided to hold off, opting for a softer palate that still said “fall” to me.


At $2.99, $ 3.99, and $2.49, respectively, my choices hardly put a dent in my weekly grocery bill.


Love these Craspedias, whatever they are.


I started with the fullest bouquet, placing them in a vase with about 4-5 inches of water.


Then I added the next fullest bouquet, spacing them evenly throughout the arrangement.


Finished by peppering with the wispy yellow balls to add a pop of color.


Voila!  NBD.  Happy fall ya’ll!!!

Liberty, Justice, & a Cute Table for All

Now I love me some Fourth of Juleeeeeeeee.  The whole ritual just screams summer.  Burgers, beer, corn on the cob, baked beans, (hopefully) sunshine…just some good ole American daytime fun that carries well into the evening and ends with a bang of fireworks.  Sign. Me. Up.

However, anyone who knows me at all also knows that I take serious issue with plastic utensils and paper plates (curiously, Solo cups don’t offend me, unless you’re pouring champagne in them).  My only problem with the Fourth is that it can border on being trashy if you’re not careful.  So let’s make Merica’ proud and do her justice with a classy tablescape.

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The table runner here is actually a scarf that I bought several years ago for less than $20.   But really you could even buy a few yards of navy star fabric at Jo-Ann Fabric and fold it and press it into a runner with an iron.

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 9.28.42 AMLike this gem at 3.99 per yard!  #Nobrainer

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Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and textures.  I found these wooden starfish for $2 each and decided they’d be the perfect way to incorporate stars since we live at the beach.

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With respect to flowers, less is more.  I picked up these red dahlias at Trader Joe’s for $3.99 and dispersed them in small, simple bud vases.

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But white hydrangeas really do represent the American summer dream and you might even be lucky enough to have some in your backyard or neighborhood.   When I lived in San Francisco there was a gorgeous hydrangea bush in my courtyard filled with lush blooms year-round and I would often sneak down after dark to clip a few for my apartment.

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Keep your eyes open when looking for Fourth of July decor.  Michael’s, Target,  and Jo-Ann Fabric all have diamonds hidden in the rough.  These pillows for example, were buried in the Dollar Spot section at Target (though everything I like there always seem to be in the $3 bin,  which is really just so typical).

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Placed on a chair it’s kind of cute, right?

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***Title cred:  Chad Yu & Kellie Reince





Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat

When we moved into our house in 2009 we gave it a minor facelift, knowing that the ultimate goal would be to add square footage (and whether that means building up or building out, we are just now trying to figure out, almost 7 years later).  We gutted the kitchen, skimmed the walls, put in bamboo floors, and repainted the interior and exterior.  Though my husband and I hated the Boogie Nights retro fireplace, we agreed it was hardly worth the effort to rip it out when a major remodel loomed before us in the not-too-distant future.

So we made do with the space, and honestly, I kind of quit noticing the eyesore (except when I saw it in photos and thought, “WTF is that doing in our house?”).


Recently, we have been meeting with architects in an effort to get the ball rolling with our project.  Because we live in a small beach community where Design Review is notoriously challenging to work with, we know the remodel could literally take years and it’s important that we find the right person for the job.

So a couple of weeks ago we had an architect come to the house for a  consultation and as we were walking him through our space I said, “Obviously the fireplace will need to go…we HATE IT.”  And he looked at it thoughtfully, tilting his head and suggested, “In the meantime, you might just paint it the color of your ceiling, because then it’s just a different texture.”

I literally cannot believe that we’ve lived here for almost 7 years and neither of us has thought of this!  I work at Houzz for God’s sake, staring at home design photos all day long.

As I shared in my last post, we had no Easter plans to speak of and I figured there was no time like the present to get started with our “little” project.  NBD, right?  We’ll just slap some paint up there and call it day. But like most home improvement projects, this one ended up taking 5 times longer than we anticipated and involved multiple trips to the hardware store.  In other words, it was kind of a big fucking deal…the prepping, the priming, the drying, the caulking, the painting, disassembling the mantle etc.  But I can’t really complain, because let’s be honest, I sipped my rosé and played Candy Crush while my husband worked like a mule well into the evening.


3 days and 7 paint brushes later, we were both ecstatic with the end result.


It’s so much lighter and cleaner, don’t you think? ***Don’t mind the painter’s tape we’ve yet to pull up.


Not a big deal unless you make it one.

Turning Into White Pumpkins at Midnight


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This is actually a serious question, but as I type it, I realize it’s one only a very privileged, first world citizen would ever ask:  What the hell are you supposed to do when it’s the day before Thanksgiving and you can’t find the white mini pumpkins you’ve been planning for months to use for your Thanksgiving tablescape?

I literally scoured the corners of Southern California supermarkets (Ralphs, Trader Joe’s, Pavilions, Wholefoods, Gelsons, Bristol Farms…shoot me now) before accepting that my mini white pumpkins were not going to be found again until September 2016.  They’d all been replaced by poinsettias and cinnamon pinecones.  Problem #2345 with Americans:  we cannot live in the moment and are always looking ahead to the next holiday before the first has come to pass. But I digress.

Fortunately I still had all my mini orange pumpkins from Halloween, though obviously orange wouldn’t work for my silver, winter white, sage green and grey theme.  Orange is so October and we are only using it as an accent color in November.

So I picked up can of spray paint. And BTW, thank you Ace Hardware for employing the most helpful young man who didn’t snicker when I told him what I intended to do with my purchase (my best guess is there’s a neurotic, perfectionist woman somewhere deep in the corners of his life).  He guided me to an ivory semi gloss paint that turned out to be the perfect choice.


So I set up camp outside.  Don’t mind our dead grass.  You can thank the California drought for the lovely backdrop of my project.

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I put tape on the stem of each pumpkin to keep it from the spray paint.
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Then I sprayed a nice even coat over the pumpkins and I’m not going to lie, this is deeply satisfying.

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Then I set them to dry over night.

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I pulled the tape off the steam and voila…white pumpkins.

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A Genius Idea (91 Dinner Parties Too Late): Tape Napkin Rings

I literally cannot believe I didn’t think of this sooner.  All this craft tape, all these dinner parties, all these years.  But my new motto is “Be Here Now” and no time like the present, right?  It all started when I was hosting my girlfriend’s baby shower a few weekends ago.  I knew I wanted to use this tape that my sister-in-law had given over a year ago, but I wasn’t sure how to incorporate into my chic-gold-and-pink-nonbaby-baby theme.


But as I was setting the table I realized I really needed a little pop of color.  And the heavens opened up and it came to me:  tape + napkins= napkin rings.

So I wrapped it around each napkin and secured it with a tiny piece of clear tape on the back and voila!  Napkin rings.


Use any tape you want and any color/pattern napkins.  You can find it at Target, Michael’s, Paper Source, and Amazon.  It’s cheap and pretty.  What a great way to add a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to your table.