Christmas Wrap-Up

If you couldn't tell from our holiday card, I was slightly lacking in Christmas spirit this year. I went through the motions, to be sure: decorating the tree, drinking hot cocoa, horrifying the cats with loud accompaniment to Bing Crosby carols... but I couldn't help but miss the company of my family and friends. I had a blue Christmas- and maybe that influenced my gift-wrapping?

I've been using the black and white herringbone wrapping paper for everything lately- including the envelope liners for our wedding invitations! It's graphic, tweedy, and absolutely practical. It looked appropriately fun on the boys' stocking stuffers, paired with humorous gifts. For the girls, I went for maximum sparkle.

The glittered take-out boxes are filled with tinsel, foil-wrapped treats, and some accessories for the holiday party season. I added pieces of gold tape to cardstock to make palettes of colorful rhinestone earrings for my sisters-in-law. 

I love wrapping gifts *almost* as I love giving them, and I always try to add some creative sparkle. Of course, I love getting gifts too... I'll show off what I got next week!


Seasons Greetings

'Tis still the season, right? We missed it? Bah!

So I'm a little late. Oh well- the sentiment remains the same. 
Happy holidays, thank you for reading, and here's to another year of differing opinions from the WarLock household!


Here & Now: Newlywed Christmas

Newlywed Thanksgiving was so much fun we thought we'd give Christmas the same treatment. That, and the husband is out of vacation time. Regardless, we're here, and we're making the most of it- with twinkle lights, glitter, and a Christmas tree that's taller than Adam (proof of this will be posted on the StB facebook page later today).

Some very dear friends gave us Crate and Barrel's Angelique Stockings and Tree Skirt as a wedding gift, and they inspired this year's decorating scheme: neutrals and metallics. Does that combination seem a little familiar to you? Let's just say the tree looks right at home in the WarLock house. 

Our tree is wearing something old, something new, and quite a few things borrowed from the wedding! I used my collection of basic ornaments to give our tree a subtle gleam: crackled mercury glass orbs, chartreuse bulbs, and little spots of gold. The pearl-encrusted baubles were a bargain at Target, and they're a good match to the trim on our new stockings. We also replaced last year's roosting owls with a sparkling star tree-topper that sits at a jaunty angle (so endearing- and I love the size). I  added a bow with long curling tails that I saved from a wedding gift. Actually, all of our ornaments are tied on with snippets of ribbon left-over from wedding projects and wrappings! Old, new, borrowed, but nothing blue- I prefer to buy led string lights with a warm, old-fashioned glow.

Simple and sentimental- just right for our first married Christmas.


Giveaway Ending Soon...

A pencil skirt helps infuse even the coziest of outfits with secretarial sex appeal. That vintage pencil necklace I blogged about would certainly be the Joan Holloway finishing touch, no?

 The Francine Pencil Skirt from Shabby Apple, featured with the Pumapard Blouse & Dusted Tights from Anthropologie, Dainty Square Ring from Banana Republic, Faceted Button Post Earrings from Express, Pewter Metallics Skinny Belt from Eddie Bauer, Fossil Vintage Reissue Leather Weekend Bag from Macy's, and Emmie Flats from Piperlime

Only a few more hours left to win the Shabby Apple Francine Skirt, and your odds are pretty darn good! Head over to the original giveaway post and follow the steps to enter- I'll draw the random winner at noon.

And the winner is... Kathy! Congratulations!


Holiday Cat-astrophes

"You better watch out, you better not cry" might be a good behavioral deterrent for little kids, but there's no gimmick that works on pets. "Santa is watching" does not prevent Phineas from gnawing on the Christmas tree. If I hide an elf on a shelf, you'll find Matilda up there with him (probably biting him, actually). You better believe that both of my cats are on the naughty list.

Really, who can blame them? This is a season of enticing foods, drunken strangers, and tail-pulling babies. We bring a perfectly climbable tree into the house and put shiny temptations on every branch. It's no wonder that every year we experience a bit of cat-related holiday mayhem. Just look at our Thanksgiving aftermath...

Our kitty mishaps have ranged from amusing (Tildy's obsessive pilfering of faux cranberry vase filler and Phinney's sneaky turkey tasting) to slightly stressful (like the cat + dog chase that led to a broken mirror). 

The key to avoiding disaster is simply to know your pets. Between Phinney the plant-nibbling ribbon-swallower and Matildor the Destroyer, we have our hands full.

  • If we're expecting a house full of guests, I know that Phinney will hide under the bed until the party has died down- but Matilda loves to mix and mingle. I put a bell on her collar to prevent her from getting underfoot.
  • Ribbons are Phinney's ultimate temptation. A pricy trip to the emergency vet in the middle of assembling wedding invites taught us to keep loose ribbons and bows out of reach, and to skip the tinsel on our tree.
  • Matilda likes to bat at baubles, so we tie ornaments onto the tree.
  • Phineas has a sensitive belly, so we don't overdo it with the treats.
  • Knowing that Tildy holds grudges (she's been hissing at my brother for years now), we're careful to make slow introductions to new people and animals.
  • Like many cats, Phineas can't keep his teeth off of the greenery- so we avoid poisonous poinsettias.

So, a few questions for you in the comments section:

How do you keep your pets out of trouble during the holidays?
What's your most memorable Christmas Cat-astrophe?


Dare to Dream: Vintage Pencil Necklace

I don't know where my brain is at these days, but one thing is for sure: if I want to remember something, I need to jot it down. So I made a note of this gracefully utilitarian necklace from Anthro... 

Vintage Pencil Necklace, French Quartz from Anthropologie

I've got quite the to-do list written up for this weekend. Christmas gifts to wrap, a holiday party to attend, festive decor to photograph for a blog post next week. I have so much to share with you- experiences, projects, recipes, ideas- hence the pencil.



PS: Make sure you remember to enter my Shabby Apple giveaway- it ends at noon on Wednesday!


Giveaway: Shabby Apple

Remember my very first giveaway at Shock the Bourgeois? Well, I'm sticking to my guns: a curve-hugging pencil skirt is the staple every girl should have in her closet. So, with the help of Shabby Apple, I want to give another lucky gal a little gift (that already has a bow on it).

I styled "Francine" for a glamourous occasion, playing with the concept of a deconstructed tuxedo. I stuck to a black and white palette- but imagined pushing up the sleeves to reveal unexpected sparkle at the wrist. As for the bow tie- well, that comes with the skirt!

Shabby Apple has a wonderful selection of women's dresses and skirts in flattering shapes and basic colors- pieces that are easy to accessorize and make your own. Want to make this skirt your own? Just follow three steps to be eligible to win...
  • "Like" Shabby Apple on Facebook.
  • Tell me how would you wear the Francine Pencil Skirt this winter in a comment on this post.
  • Be sure to include an email address so that I can notify you if you've won!

You can receive additional entries for doing any of the following (just leave a separate comment for each)...

I'll randomly select the winner next Wednesday, December 21st at noon PST. Remember to check your email before the holidays- you might be receiving a belated gift from Shock the Bourgeois!

Good luck, ladies!

The fine print: This prize cannot be shipped outside of the US, and is not eligible for return or exchange.

This giveaway has ended. Thanks for entering!


Floral & Insects

When I shared this with the husband he shrugged it off until he took a closer look.
"Oh! That is interesting." 

Isn't it? Almost painterly, with the subtle illumination of the Old Masters- but not quite a still life, with snails and bumblebees crawling amongst the wilted blooms. It's one part botanical study, one part Henri Fantin-Latour (right down to the moody background and glinting scissors). Quite possibly a candidate for the new gallery wall I'm dreaming up- though I wish I could've created my own floral arrangement for the photograph!


The Pantone Color of the Year

Chronicle Books put the words "Pinterest" and "contest" in the same sentence, and I was in. But a whole board of this saturated orange? That's a challenge. I thought, "Okay, 17-1463, let's dance."

It's an enigmatic shade, flickering between mellow orange and vivid coral every time you blink. I tried to envision myself actually wearing this color, and using it in my home. My taste, only brighter. Ruffles, curls, herringbone, skulls. Sassy, but optimistic. A few pins later, and Tangerine Tango didn't seem so far-fetched anymore...

Find these images (and many more) on my Tangerine Tango board on Pinterest.

Tangerine Tango could well be my New Year's resolution for 2012. How do you feel about the Color of the Year?

Speaking of contests, I've got a little something in the works for you readers this Wednesday...


Girl About Town: A Final Resting Place

The ashes of Jack and Charmian London (deceased in 1916 & 1955, respectively) lie together on a wooded knoll, beneath a massive stone pulled from the ruins of Wolf House. It's a secluded spot, beautifully green with none of the oppressive claustrophobia of a modern cemetery. But neither is it lonely.

Steps way from the Londons' memorial are the mossy headstones of David and Lillie Greenlaw, a brother and sister, the little children of a pioneer family who settled on the land in the 1870s. 

How much it must have stung their poor mother's heart to leave her babies behind when the family moved on. Jack London is purported to have selected a gravesite next to the children to feel less lonely in death- but think what a kindness he did in ensuring that their tiny graves would be tended to as well. It's an act of intentional generosity that I found very moving.

That wraps up my tour of Jack London State Park... I've shown you some of my favorite vignettes from the large estate (the country kitchen, a sentimental display, and many more on the Shock the Bourgeois facebook page) as well as Jack's dream house that never was- but there's much more to see for yourself. If you're a resident of Northern California, I encourage you to visit before the park closes permanently in July of 2012. 

Girl About Town: Wolf House Ruins

Walking through the grounds of Jack London's Beauty Ranch, it's easy to see why he wanted to build his dream house there. The landscape is lush and varied, suitable for farming and ideal for peaceful reflection. Nestled in the Valley of the Moon, it's close enough to San Francisco for lively social calls, far enough away for a writer's solitude.

With a dining room large enough to seat 50 guests, and a private writer's retreat in the treetops, Wolf House was designed to accommodate every aspect of the London's lifestyle. It burned in 1913, mere weeks before they were to move in.

It's an impressive ghost, even reduced to a skeleton of lava rock and metal. Built to last, stone archways and  beautiful brick fireplaces gape eerily above the hollow structure. Now swathed in moss, it remains a dream of a house.

If you're just joining in now, we started our walk through Jack London State Park yesterday with a look at the cottage kitchen, interiors from around the estate, and a dining room with inspiring significance. This afternoon we finish our tour at the London's grave site.


Girl About Town: Jack London's China Cabinet

Well, Charmian London's, to be exact. This is the dining room in The House With Happy Walls, a home built after Jack's death. It currently exists, per Charmian's wishes, as a museum at Jack London State Park to showcase her husband's adventures and accomplishments. The house is a gallery of photographs, publications, and prized possessions from their worldly travels. My favorite part was the oddly extravagant dining room, with an indoor fountain, a massive bank of windows, and three walls of cabinets specifically designed to display a very special set of dishes.

If you look closely, you'll notice that the cabinet knobs are off-set.

Look closer still and you'll realize that the hardware and cabinet trim have been painted to match the china within. The floral shape of the knobs emulates the leafy ornaments on the serving pieces, and both are given an illustrative quality with green outlines.

I love the idea of decorating to celebrate an heirloom or beloved artifact. Even more, I love the significance of these plates and bowls to their owners: Jack London purchased the set from the estate of Robert Louis Stevenson, a man he greatly admired but never met. 

Today I showed you Jack's enviable kitchen sink and some of the interesting interiors on the property. Tomorrow I'll take you on a hike through the grounds...

Girl About Town: Jack London's Kitchen Sink

A few weeks ago Adam and I drove up to Glen Ellen to cross something off of our "Things to do While Living in California" list: we visited Jack London's house, now known as Jack London State Park. Being hikers, English majors, and people who will never pass up an opportunity to tour wine country, it's been at the top of our list- especially since we learned that this park is scheduled for permanent closure due to lack of funding. That's a shameful thing, because this park is a gem.

It's a park that offers everything and the kitchen sink: trails skirting a sweet-smelling (and tasting, shhh) vineyard, a giant redwood tree, a romantic ruin, a murky lake, and (beneath layers of silly museum staging) a glimpse into the quiet moments of an incredible life.

Being that this is a design blog, let's start with the kitchen sink. 
Tell me there's not some inspiration to be had here...

Today I'll be sharing some of the property's decorating details here on the blog, and also on the Shock the Bourgeois facebook page. Tomorrow I'll conclude my tour with the portions of the park that truly struck a chord with me: the remains of Jack London's dream house (consumed by fire before he'd even moved in), and the mossy knoll that is his final resting place.


Dare to Dream: Botanical Rug

I love this rug so much, I won't even fuss about how they spelled my name wrong.

It is named after me, right? The oversized English garden bouquet, the lush yet muted colors, the moody black background, the unexpected white fringe trim.... it is so me. More importantly, it is SO my living room.


Found for You: Silver Demitasse Set

A metallic trend this season means that blogs, shops, and homes are all a-glitter for the holidays. Shiny objects are an eye-catching way to impress your guests. I plan on using my collection of silvery vintage demitasse cups to serve a few sips of something hot and chocolatey.

I've never been able to find much information about my unusual set- but that doesn't mean you can't get the look for your own home.

This set has a curved handle instead of angular, but it still has all the gleam of the antique. The cups are sold with spoons and a mirrored tray, making it easy to create a glamorous vignette or a reflective tablescape (like this one I put together for Maggie Rose). Certainly a chic spin on Christmas decorating!


Holiday Flea Marketing

It certainly looked a lot like Christmas at the Alameda Flea yesterday, where the rows of already covetable antiques were decked with tinsel and garland and everything else holly-jolly. I can't show off our purchases without spoiling a Christmas surprise... but I can certainly share some things that caught my eye!

Adam and I always stop to rummage through boxes of flatware on the off-chance that we spot a piece of our goldware pattern. Our silverware already has a mismatched look, but wouldn't it be fun to do a table where every fork and spoon was unique?

We're also scouting finishing touches for our bar cart (which I haven't even shown you yet!). Isn't a well-stocked bar a must-have for the holiday season? I loved the scrolling banner and gold touches on the vintage cognac poster, and the bold type on those ice buckets. What's that they say about champagne taste? I have it. We're working with a stocking-stuffer budget... luckily the Flea had those in endless supply!

And yes, even though we were shopping for others, I couldn't help looking a bit for myself. I had my eye on the tiny adornments this time: the floral pattern on this cookie tin, the whimsical detail of those earrings. Oh, those earrings. To say they captured my heart would be an understatement. But again- champagne taste.

The flea truly sparkled this month, and I have the pictures to prove it. I'll be sharing more photos of my finds all day at the One Must Shock the Bourgeois facebook page.


Christmas Shopping: Ideal Bookshelf

Love it when I find something special in my inbox- like a giftable print debuting at 20x200.

Your English major friend will grin and remember the hair-away-from-brilliant A- paper she wrote on Wuthering Heights. The former bookseller whose living room looks like a library will approve of the selection (even if the lack of alphabetization irks her). The graphic design fanatic will giddily recognize the beautiful covers of new Penguin Classic editions by Coralie Bickford-Smith

I, being all of the above, will add this to my wish list!

Whomever you're buying for, a $20 limited edition 8x10 (signed by the artist) makes for an affordable and sentimental gift. Better yet, West Elm's collection of frames (sized to perfectly showcase 20x200 artwork) is on SALE. Merry Christmas indeed.


Shedding Some Light

You didn't have to say it- I could tell. You really wanted anther look at that incredible candelabra I lit up this Thanksgiving. You're welcome.

It is amazing, isn't it? My Mom gave this to me at my bridal shower, adding to the tally of surprising but perfectly spot-on gifts she's given me. SHE, is amazing, isn't she?

It's a traditional shape done (baubles and all) in wire. Dark gray with black tapers, it creates a lively silhouette against the soft white curtains of the dining alcove while casting a warm glow down on the dining table. Romantic and just a little off-kilter. Love it.

The Turkey

Adam was indignant that I didn't include a shot of THE TURKEY in my Thanksgiving recap post. So here he is.


Thanks Given

Uhhhhh... anyone else still nursing their Thanksgiving hangover? I've learned the hard way that "hair of the dog" does not apply to tryptophan. 16 pounds of turkey split two ways is a long, sleepy weekend.

Empty seats meant full bellies for Adam and I- in addition to our succulent cider-brined turkey, we had sourdough apple stuffing, truffled mashed red potatoes, gjetost gravy, and a pumpkin spice cake with orange cream cheese frosting (the very first cake I've ever baked!). Even the kitties feasted on turkey liver!

I'm glad we decided to truly celebrate- to dress up, light candles, and treat ourselves. 

How was your holiday?