Archive for November, 2011

Having a blog is a little like owning a house: It needs constant maintenance and it’s impossible to resist the urge to redecorate.

A couple weeks ago, I blew up my blog trying to install the W3 Cache. I switched to a very basic template while calling in a professional — the lovely Laurie Rauch of WP Divas — to help me rebuild my site. (I also hired a nice W3 Cache tech to sort out the plumbing.)

In the process, I became very fond of my basic blog template, called Dear Diary.
So Laurie and I decided to do a mashup of the notebook theme
with the slideshow features on the main page of my original template.

I hope you like the changes!!

As always, it’s a work in progress.

(If you’re reading this on RSS, click over!)

(Photo by Selina Lake and Debi Treloar from their book “Romantic Style.”)

Categories: illustrations | 35 Comments »

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I spend so much time on the computer, I figured why not just curl up with my laptop in a cozy chair? With a few adjustments, I was able to ditch my desk for good. Here’s how:

First off,  I added a couple accent tables and lamps
alongside an oversized chair in our living room….

I found a few colorful accessories to add a little cheer to the many hours I spend blogging and writing — and reading other people who blog and write.

I pulled together every cent I could find for an awesome laptop —
it was the best money I’ve ever spent on myself:

Now I’m both farsighted and nearsighted. BIG reading glasses are the best for looking at computer screens, I think.  Arm warmers are essential for late nights (like now) typing near a drafty window in late-fall/winter…

Best part of working in an oversized chair: There’s also room for both cat and little dog!!!

Categories: Decor | 17 Comments »

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We’re back from our Thanksgiving trip to Northern California to visit my husband’s family. Now I’m starting to think about Xmas. My vintage ornaments are my favorites, always…

Last week I put together a post for Lamps Plus on ten vintage Christmas essentials. Here’s the first half of the list. The other five are over here…

What’s your favorite vintage holiday decoration?

Photo Credits:  Heather Bullard, Kracken Crafts, Moxie-Girl, Georgia Peachez, Raining Rita.

Categories: Decor | 6 Comments »

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i am thankful for series
I’m thankful for so many things this year,
especially for the friends I’ve met here in our corner of the Internet.

Wishing you a lovely holiday season!



(Photo by the talented Laura Trevey.)

Categories: Decor | 8 Comments »

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A Prada Pastiche

Nov 22, 2011

At the start of every season, I try to make a point of going to the Rem Koolhaas-designed Prada store in Beverly Hills to look at the new arrivals — displayed like fine art — and pick up a (FREE!) copy of the latest Prada Lookbook.

This fall, the fashion house chose a “fantasy” collage theme for its oversized pulp book.
Imagine Margot Tenenbaum with photoshop and a glue gun and you’ve got the Fall 2011 Prada Lookbook, an amazing pastiche of fashion and retro wonderfulness.
(I would say it’s “lovely” but I’m trying to use that word less.)

Anyway, have a look:


GAH, I wish I were rich. I would only wear Prada, with occasional breaks for Chanel. Alas.

Categories: Fashion, Vintage | 4 Comments »

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Too often people treat their treasured collection of favorite books as a decorating nuisance, but with the right spirit and eye they can become an asset to any room — one that lends individuality and personality. I’m constantly searching for new and creative ways to display and store my books. Here are a few tips for living stylishly with (millions) of books:

Small spaces, particularly in urban settings, often have to do double duty. Take a lesson from the English and stylish Manhattan apartment dwellers who often turn their dining rooms into libraries. Deep wall colors and a complimentary painted ceiling are the perfect foil for a glittery chandelier and vintage mix-and-match dining seating. Even is you have to eat alone, what could be better than pulling down a favorite book for company?

Don’t be reluctant to mix  your books up with other decorative home decor objects. At first glance, the wall console (above) has a kind of undergraduate informality. But the combination with modern ceramic pieces and comic decorative items gives it all a light-hearted style. The whole effect is amplified by a very 21st century ceiling fixture, a modernist sofa, and the funky table lamp on the very adult rattan bar cart. It’s a room for the young at heart, whatever their age.

Your personal library becomes a visual focal point of a room. These modern shelves with the books stacked rather than stored on end has all the character of a conceptual art piece and plays beautifully against the two contemporary floor lamps and the vintage Eames lounge chair. The quiet star of the room, though, is the contemporary chandelier, which somehow harmonizes with the architecture of the bookshelf.

Photos via Architectural Digest,  Nuevo Estilo, Alvhem, Desire to Inspire, Living Agency, Mires Paris and Penguin By Design.

(Portions of this post are from a design piece I wrote recently for Lamps Plus.)

Categories: Books, illustrations | 21 Comments »

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My new Lamps Plus design post is up!
This week I’m writing about ways to create the perfect guest room.


Be sure to leave a comment!

Categories: Books | 7 Comments »

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I recently did a post on Swedish Style for Lamps Plus. Here’s a little sample:

“A light and bright Swedish-style interior doesn’t necessarily have to be about minimalism or, for that matter, be dominated by contemporary design. In this case white walls and a similarly painted floor become a kind of jewel box for a traditional chair with comfy throw and pillow alongside an equally traditional arrangement of pictures and a topiary, which adds that important natural touch the Scandinavians relish.”

“The Arne Jacobsen-style chair is perfect foil for the very traditional writing desk. The contemporary rug, along with the very now desk, floor and ceiling lights play beautifully beside the boldly graphic wallpaper.”

{FULL POST, with more lovely photos, HERE}

Photos by Alvhem Makleri.

Categories: illustrations | 2 Comments »

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Dear Oscar…

Nov 16, 2011

These lovely illustrations were created by a medical student for her Tumblr page,
Letters to Oscar Wilde.

Every month she posts a few new ones…

I love her style and originality!
{More Here}

Categories: Decor | 1 Comment »

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First time doing a post like this!

Categories: Decor | 23 Comments »

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Thank You!

Nov 15, 2011

Thank you for all your kind words yesterday regarding my daughter. I’m so deeply appreciative. Someone once told me “to have a child is to have a knife in your heart.” I wouldn’t go that far, but some days are better than others. So today is a good day. She went back to school, and my heart rate has returned to normal — for now.

(Photo by stylist Selina Lake.)

Categories: Decor | 14 Comments »

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We got one of those calls this weekend that every parent dreads: There’s been an accident. Your daughter was injured. She’s unresponsive. Go to the emergency room.

It happened on Friday night. Our daughter, Isabella, was at a football game with friends. Apparently they were goofing around during the game and she fell backwards, hitting her head hard on a concrete slab. She drifted in and out of consciousness on the ride to the hospital.
Her friends called us crying. “She won’t open her eyes…”

The following hours were the worst of my life, waiting for the results of two CAT scans. I wanted more than anything to turn back time and to have her safe at home.

Finally, after midnight, we heard from the neurologist that everything was ok.
She suffered a mighty concussion.
As I’m writing this now, she’s sleeping peacefully in her bed. And I am so thankful.

Just catching my breath…

(Illustration by Lu Green.)

Categories: Decor | 61 Comments »

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Categories: authors, Books, Featured, Travel | 13 Comments »

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Here’s a sampling of my design post this week for Lamps Plus. It’s all about getting away to the woods in winter. More here!

Image credits:  Jom Manilat,  Old Chum, and Revolve Photography.


Categories: Decor | 6 Comments »

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I always love it when the Sartorialist posts photos of women wearing four or five different prints, all of them working in harmony. Here’s my little photo copied collection. I especially love the girl with the plaid shirt, the Chinese coat and the red bag!

(Click headline to leave comment!)

Categories: Decor | 7 Comments »

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I picked up a copy of the Steve Jobs biography today. I can’t wait to get started.

What are you reading?

Thank you again for hanging in there with me through my technical woes.
What do you think of my temporary template!? Very minimalist!

It doesn’t have a clear button to click if you want to leave a message! So I’ll add a link:


Thank you!


Categories: Books | 53 Comments »

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And something to carry along — an NYC Moleskine notebook:

More J. Crew outfits here.
A few more snapshots of my Moleskine.

Categories: Decor | 10 Comments »

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I’m back online! So happy! My massive photo-laden blog blew up last night when I tried to install W3 Cache. Luckly, most of my content was in a backup database, so I was able to restore much of what I lost. (I need to repost everything between Nov. 1 and today. I’m still reposting missing photos.)

What you’re seeing now is the pared-down version of my blog, sort of like chicken soup or mashed potatoes after a bad night.

I hope to have the fancier version up and running soon. (I’m turning the task over to professionals this time!)

In the meantime, welcome to the acoustic English Muse!

(Sketch by Larice Barbosa.)


Categories: Decor | 19 Comments »

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So this is my home — crammed with flea-market finds, stacks of books, bitter angry pets, and a husband who wonders when we’re having a yard sale. Welcome to my bohemian, magpie, grannie not-so-chic life!


Categories: Books, house and home, illustrations | 28 Comments »

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