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November 30, 2009

Principles of Landscape Design: Order

Happy Monday all! I am trying to get back into the swing of things after a week full of travel, family and friends! Christmas decorations are strewn about the house, but bit by bit, I will triumph!!

This week is full of great posts! Tomorrow we will look at our second installation on collecting: how to display your collections.

Today, we have our first post from another talented friend, who just happens to be an expert in Horticulture! Laura is going to give us a series on Landscape Design, and the principles behind it.

A little about her: Laura Bruner taught landscape design in Auburn University's Department of Horticulture after completing her Ph.D. in horticulture. Her landscape design business, Two Trees Designs, designed residential landscapes in East Alabama and West Georgia before relocating to the Dallas area. Since moving she has contributed to gardening magazines, spoken to gardening groups on landscape design and continues in design work. She enjoys nothing more than the order and beauty you find in a well done garden. Unfortunately, neither is reality in her home at this time with three lively children six years old and under.

Principles of Landscape Design

Trends may come and go, but principles are timeless and proven. The same landscape design principles used by Frederick Law Olmsted when he conceived many well-known American urban parks in the late 1800s can be used to improve the aesthetics of your landscape today. Order, unity and rhythm – think of them as the Golden Rules of Design and your landscape will benefit from their enduring application.

Design principles translate into all the design trades; architecture, photography, interior design and landscape design. Design concepts you may be familiar with and have applied to your home’s interior can be used in a different application on your landscape and outdoor entertaining areas.


Order is the overall framework of the design, its underlying visual structure. One way to implement order in the landscape is to achieve balance, or the equal distribution of visual weight throughout the landscape.

Symmetrical balance is the familiar foundation for formal gardens. A landscape composition has symmetrical balance when there are equal numbers, types of colors on each side of an assumed visual axis. This home’s parking court and front gardens are a modern, contemporary take on symmetrical balance. The lines of the home and landscape are perfectly mirrored with the visual axis and focal point being the home’s entry.

The classic symmetry of Medici Fountain in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris was built in 1630 and moved to its current location with the long basin of water in the 1860s. Design principles do stand the test of time.

While you might not be in the market for a true formal landscape, you can apply symmetrical balance similar to what you see in this photo on a small scale with identical container plantings on each side of an entry walk or a foundation planting.

Asymmetrical balance uses unequal numbers, types or colors to achieve visual balance in a composition. To understand asymmetrical balance, imagine a playground seesaw with a large child and a much smaller child on opposite ends. Balance can be achieved by the larger child moving toward the center of the seesaw or by adding additional small children.

In a landscape, objects of heavier visual weight should be balanced in a similar fashion. For instance, a large existing tree on one side of a foundation planting can be balanced by a trio of smaller trees on the other.

The grouping of crape myrtles to the left of the home provides visual weight to balance the home’s garage and driveway which previously dominated the composition.

The home in this landscape is a classic symmetrical design. The landscape is balanced, asymmetrical and flowing to reflect the carefree and relaxed nature of the homeowners.

This traditional home is asymmetrical in design. The landscape complements the home with visual balance and natural, flowing lines.

Mass collection or the grouping together of elements is another means to accomplish order in the landscape. While this principle applies to all materials used in the landscape, it has particular relevance to the grouping of plants.

Same plants are grouped together within planting beds resulting in order. Well executed design principles go along with good horticultural practices. Groups of the same plants are easier to manage in regard to irrigation, fertilization and pest management than individual plants with different requirements intermingled.

If possible, plant groupings should consist of an odd number of individual plants – 3, 5, or 7 – for aesthetic purposes. Because of the way our brains perceive a group of objects, odd numbered groups are more visually cohesive than even numbered groups. Larger grouping of the same plants have greater visual impact at a distance. Even a perennial bed in its patchwork appearance, has order through mass collection and definite visual appeal.

As the landscape design is conceived and organized, it is important to consider how order will be provided through symmetry, asymmetry, mass collection or a combination of them all. The earlier order is applied in the design process, the better the results.

Design principles, unity and rhythm, will be discussed in following blog posts.

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November 27, 2009

Friday Finds: Rugs, Gifts and Recipes

Give Thanks rug kit

Happy Black Friday to everyone!

Hopefully, you all had a great Thanksgiving yesterday (at least for those in the US). I have no interest in Black Friday, would much rather shop online any day, versus being in crowds.

So here are my finds for this week.

What to do with leftovers? Real Simple has 10 Ideas for Leftover Turkey. I linked to the printable page, as it annoys me to have to scroll through 12 pages just to see all the ideas. This way, they are all on one page. The Turkey, Dill and Orzo soup sounds good.

FLOR has extended their private sale: 15% off of all their rugs.

Their product is heavy, so 15% off will help to cover shipping costs. I do need some more tiles for my kitchen, and perhaps some area rugs. Use the code FF393W4 when checking out.

we have Modern Mix (in red), in our kitchen, under our Saarinan-style table.

I like the Button kit (or half circle) for a bathroom

I love the Square Dance rug kit (maybe the entry), or

if I was being bold, maybe Feelin' Groovy

As you can tell, there are so many fun options for rugs at FLOR, especially for area rugs.

One Kings Lane. Don't forget, the $100 shopping spree giveaway ends Monday, 11/30!!

So much to choose from, here are my highlights:

S/2 9 oz. Lux holiday candles
I received a Lux candle as a gift, and they are extremely fragrant. This way, you get 2 gifts, one to keep and one to give.

Make sure to check out their Gifts section. Safari notebooks (shown above), set of 2.

The Kids gifts are adorable!

Plus, there is a Holiday Fragrance section, Travel gifts and more!! I don't have time now to check them all out, but will be looking at them later today, hoping to score some great deals!!

Happy shopping and have a great weekend!

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November 25, 2009

Thankfulness & Rosemary Nuts

I saw this today and had to share, just in case you need something quick to whip up: Spicy, Sweet & Salty Rosemary Nuts.

I think I am going to make some tonight, as these are sisters after my own heart: "Once nuts have cooled, break apart the clusters and serve with super dirty martinis and champagne cocktails. Now that’s the holiday spirit!" Yeah!

I too, have a spicy nut recipe, that I will share with you once it is published. Yes, that is a hint, that I have something coming up. It is super exciting, at least for me, as this blogging gig was just a fun hobby to corral all my notes, and a way to practice my HTML and Photoshop skills.

So, this leads into what I am thankful for this week. In addition to all the wonderful blessings in my life, I am thankful for you, my readers! That you read my blog, comment, encourage me and generally help reinforce the fact that this is fun!

I know that in the big scheme of things, decorating and entertaining have their proper place. While I love to pore over magazines and work on color schemes, I also know that style should not be our only concern. There is a world full of orphans, widows, poverty and injustice, where obsessing over paint colors is dwarfed by obsessing over whether or not you will have enough food for your family.

I hope you find that my sense of style is always tempered by the fact that I realize there is more to life. Just because food and decorating is my passion, it does not mean that I care whether or not it is yours. So I am thankful that you choose to check in and enjoy my journey, as I create my own domicile style and share ways to create yours. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours, and I will be back on Friday with a look at what I find interesting.

~ Laurie

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November 23, 2009

Top Ten Thanksgiving Tips for Pets

image from flickr

Thanksgiving week is finally here! We are enjoying some well needed rest in Atlanta, but will be heading back to Dallas soon, before my husband has to travel again.

As we all prepare to enjoy the holiday with family and friends, I ran across some tips from Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer), to make sure that our pets have a safe and sound holiday too. As you all know, I love dogs, and I thought it would be appropriate to do a post on some things we should all know (just in case we don't). Or in my case, as with #2, do anyway, but shouldn't!

Top Ten Thanksgiving Tips for Pets
1. Increase your dog's exercise regimen! Before visiting or receiving holiday guests, take your dog out for a long walk. If you drain your dog's excess energy, he or she will be more likely to behave.

2. No food from the table! I recommend that you follow this rule year round, and it is even more important during the excitement of the holidays. Set a distance your dog is allowed to be from the table, and stick to it!

3. Be aware of harmful human food! Many foods, such as turkey bones and skin, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and onions, can be dangerous for your dog. If you want your dog to be a part of the feasting, consider buying special dog treats or share a small piece of white turkey meat.

4. Secure the garbage! The scents coming from the trash can are just as tempting as those wafting from the dinner table, but dangerous objects, such as roasting bags, string, and pop-up timers, are often attached to those tasty scraps.

5. Inform your visitors! Before they arrive, remind your guests to practice no touch, no talk, and no eye contact when meeting your canine companions. Let them know the rules, boundaries, and limitations of the household, so they can help you enforce them.

6. Use dog tags! With the hubbub of the holidays, it is very important to make sure that your dog is wearing identification. If you and your dog are going out of town, you may want to add a temporary tag listing your new location's contact information.

7. Know your dog! If your dog is overwhelmed by large crowds and new people, it may be better to leave him at home when you go to the parade or find a pet sitter while you attend the family reunion.

8. Keep a keen eye out! Don't forget your dog when the festivities begin. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, or displaying other unusual behaviors, he or she may have ingested something harmful. Seek medical assistance immediately if you become concerned.

9. Have emergency contact information ready! Just in case, keep the number of your veterinarian, the nearest emergency clinic, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center National Hotline (888-426-4435) handy. Being prepared can save your dog's life.

10. Live in the moment! Thanksgiving is about family. Don't forget to share the joy and laughter of this wonderful day with your canine family member!

In addition, here are more good articles from Cesar. His website has a wealth of information on correcting behavioral issues, working with dogs of all ages and so much more.

Dangerous people foods

How to travel with your pets this holiday season.

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November 20, 2009

Friday Finds: Pillow Give-away, Silhouette Ornaments and more

Sorry for the late post today. I am sick, so my day got off to a late start; then I had to play travel agent and track my husband down in MN. His flight got canceled and he needed to hustle to catch an earlier flight. Of course, the earlier flight was delayed, so he is leaving about the same time as before. Oh, the joy of travel!

Here is my roundup of what I found interesting this week.

One Kings Lane:
Make sure to get your free membership in order to view products. In addition, if you sign up before 11/30, you are entered to win a $100 shopping spree.

Pillow Give-away from Olive:

I did a previous Friday Find on pillows from Olive and how much I really liked her fun designs. Sign up to win a Christmas present pillow in a surprise color combination. A sweet gift for you, or for someone on your list who loves handmade items.


Custom Silhouette Ornaments from Le Papier Studio

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November 19, 2009

More Thanksgiving Inspiration

I too have amber plates that I bought at an antique store years ago. You can see them on my faux bois post.

Since we are one week away from Thanksgiving, I wanted to share some more inspiration for setting your table and decorating your house. I could spend hours online looking at pictures, I am always so inspired by what magazines are able to create in their photo layouts. Today, I was on Country Living, picking out the ideas that appeal to me, ideas that can always be given a modern twist.

Simple idea, yet elegant. How about one of the many beautiful fall leaves available now instead of a grape leaf.

Great idea, let the kids stamp cocktail napkins with fall images

Love this look for a kids table

Autumn centerpiece, nice and low so that it won't obstruct views across the table. I think you could adapt this style to any type of table setting, whether formal or modern.

For more beautiful pictures and inspiration from Country Living.

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November 18, 2009

Crunchy Cool Weather Salads

I am going to a salad luncheon tomorrow, and was trying to think of a good, seasonal salad. Today, I picked up arugula, and was looking to incorporate clementines, walnuts & goat cheese into a salad.

In perusing recipes, I found this top ten list of winter salads on Chowhound. Proof you can make a good salad year-round! I can't wait to try them all.

1. Salade Lyonnaisey. Our version of the classic French salad tops frisée with crispy pancetta and an oozy poached egg.

2. Watercress Salad with Manchego, Membrillo, and Almonds. Peppery watercress is paired with cubes of quince paste, almonds, shaved Manchego cheese, and an easy vinaigrette.

3. Classic Wedge Salad. A chunk of iceberg lettuce topped with tangy Blue Cheese Dressing is a quick favorite; dress it up with a sprinkle of chopped bacon or scallions.

4. Butter Lettuce and Avocado Salad. Top butter lettuce with crumbled tortilla chips, avocado, Cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro. Dress with a squeeze of lime, oil (avocado oil is nice here, but use what you have), and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Fennel, Parsley, and Celery Salad. Crunchy pieces of fennel and celery are dressed with a Moroccan-inspired Preserved Lemon and Bitters Vinaigrette, olives, and chopped parsley.

6. Fennel-Apple Slaw. Thin slices of Belgian endive, apple, and fennel are tossed with a white wine vinaigrette.

7. Blood Orange and Mâche Salad. Despite its delicate leaves and mild flavor, mâche grows throughout winter in many places. Try tossing some with our Blood Orange Vinaigrette and sunflower seeds for a simple side salad.

8. Chicory and Arugula Salad with Honey Vinaigrette. Bitter winter greens are tamed by a honey-laced vinaigrette and crunchy walnuts.

9. Arugula and Pear Salad. Just because we see it on every winter menu doesn’t mean we tire of it. Top arugula with sliced pears, toasted walnuts, and blue cheese. Drizzle with some walnut oil and sherry vinegar (or whatever you have on hand), and season with salt and pepper.

10. Warm Escarole and Cannellini Bean Salad. Sauté finely chopped onion in a generous amount of oil, then add cannellini beans and cook until warm. Add cider vinegar to taste, then pour the mixture over chopped escarole. Toss a few times with your hands, season to taste with salt and pepper, and top with croutons.

Roxanne Webber is an associate editor at CHOW.

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November 17, 2009

Faux So Good

image from iDIY

All this talk about collecting has got me thinking about what I like to collect. I love crystal: candlesticks, decanters, votive holders, small bowls, basically anything shiny. They are scattered now, but I need to find a home for them, and group them to make a statement.

I also adore Faux bois. From Wiki: Faux Bois (from the French for false wood) refers to the artistic imitation of wood or wood grains in various media.

I have mentioned before how much I love my Branch Teapot (3 times) and how I keep eying the sugar & creamer from Velocity. I like almost everything from the Roost shop.

These are the Faux Bois placemats I got on sale at Pottery Barn for a steal (I bought all they had, 10 of them)!!! I quickly took a picture for you.

And, I found so much more faux online, this is just a small sampling of what is available.

Martha Stewart for Macy's. Faux bois bath accessories.

More Martha Stewart, this time a carpet tile rug for Flor. Love my Flor and need to get more.

Also love these Roost Lotus Root Vases, for the same reason, so sculptural.

And if you just can't get enough Faux Bois, there is even a blog devoted to all things Faux Bois: It's (K)not Wood.

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November 16, 2009

Creating a Collection: What to Collect

image from Dan Marty Design

Welcome back to our alphabetical list of expert decorating advice for your home.

was All About Art, a series on how to buy, how to frame and how to hang. Now we move onto our next category: C is Creating a Collection. Kellie Cashon, from Cashon & Co., is back to talk with us about how she starts collections, both for her and her clients.

MDS: I know you are an avid collector; you are always showing us your newest finds on your blog. How did you start collecting and what are your favorite pieces to collect?

KC: What to collect? Well, sometimes collections kind of happen on their own. Technically, a collection starts with 3 pieces. I bet people have "collections" of something in their home and don't even know it. It's probably spread out throughout the house!

Rule No. 1: When you do have a collection of something, don't spread it throughout your home. There is strength in numbers, meaning, take things that are the same (whether it's genre, color, object) and put them all together in one place.

I have several Chinese blue & white porcelain pieces. I have them scattered around, a little bit in every room. Although I kept some pieces in all my rooms, I took the bulk of my vases and put them together on a chest. I think it makes much more of an impact together like this picture below.

This are the pieces I put on the chest, but decided to mix in art, silver, and sculpture, to create a lot of depth. In order to achieve that, I had to put some of the vases on risers. Wisteria has some wonderful glass risers.

There is not a lot of vases on this table, but only four grouped together still makes a visual impact.

These vases are from Dan Marty Design, but eBay is also a great resource. If you find some you like on eBay, and it is coming straight from China, check the shipping costs and time frame, as well as the seller's feedback. Very important, as things that are shipped directly from China are inexpensive in the purchase price but make up for it in the shipping costs. Tozai Home also makes wonderful Blue & White porcelain and is available through your designer or in the retail market.

Designer Dan Carithers, in Veranda's Sept/Oct 1999 issue (photograph: Peter Vitale). Carithers didn't just line them up on the mantel, he also added more on the étagère next to the mantel. This is a good example where more is more, as it is virtually the only color in the room.

Another room by Dan Carithers, in the same house as above, but he carries the blue & white collection through the house. This time, he uses fabric on a nearby chair that compliments the porcelain. I like how he put the little yellow pottery jugs in front of the big plates on the wall. Layers!

Also, what is nice about collecting is not only to display your treasures, but to actually use them too. I now have a lot of antique silver souvenir spoons (sterling spoons that were made as souvenirs from Fairs and states, picked up by people as keepsakes from their travels and vacations). I keep them in two bowls on my coffee table, but last year I had a mother/daughter tea at my house and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to use my spoons. I placed a souvenir spoon at each place setting, and I matched the spoon to the person's birthplace. It was a great conversation starter.

I started with about 5 spoons given to me by my mother. Then I got the fire and within 2 years, and with thanks to eBay and local antique malls, I had grown my spoon collection considerably. When I am out of state on vacation, this always gives me something to look for. I have most States, but am missing a few. I am trying to buy spoons only from States that I have actually visited. If you google "souvenir spoons", and start looking at them, I bet you'll become obsessed about them too.

The spoon I used at this place setting is from Rhode Island, which is where this guest is from.

Rule No. 2: Let it be known what it is that you collect. Not only by displaying it in your home, but by telling others about your passion! This will give your friends easy ideas as to what to get you for gifts. I remember a friend I had about 10 years ago that collected strawberries. Everything strawberry: linens, pottery, knick-knacks, etc. I cannot pass anything with a strawberry on it and not think of her. I also had a friend that collected crowns. Come holiday time, it was easy for me to shop for her. Buy anything with a crown on it!

Your collections have to consist of items that speak to you, for whatever reason. I love malachite, therefore I add little malachite pieces when I can, and have received two malachite boxes as gifts. I also like hobnail glass, oyster pails, charms, vintage Ungaro, kimono's....these are some of the things I like to collect.

Things like my kimono's I don't display, but I do try to make an effort to wear one once in a while, so I can enjoy them and remember why I like to buy them in the first place! I wore a vintage long black kimono at a party I hosted last December, in my home. Talk about a comfortable dress!

This is my collection of mother of pearl, most of it being from about 1900. They were also used as souvenirs from the Victorian and Edwardian period, which is why a lot of them are little coin-purses with a city's name painted on it. I just received a new one about 2 weeks ago, as a gift from a friend who owns a local antique shop. Funny thing is, she had NO idea I collected these!

This is my newest collection, which is vintage alabaster. I was at an antique warehouse last month with a friend/client, and I saw a grouping of these (and much more) on a table. I was instantly smitten. It is not something I set out to collect, but when I saw them, it struck me like a lightening bolt. I am bidding on one right now on eBay. These are not expensive, if you are patient, and take your time to search for deals.

Not all collections have to be serious. This is a little display of dolls I have, most of them being vintage c. 1915 cruise-liner souvenir dolls but also include Kewpies, iron, and bisque.

Here is part of my collection of Toby mugs. Some are old, some are new. I have a few more in a bathroom, where I use them to hold toothbrushes, and the rest are on a little corner rack on the counter. I have to remind myself to not let items like this go unused. When my kids want hot-chocolate, I need to take one off the shelf and use these!

This is a fun, quirky collection of vintage and new shell souvenir animals. I have about 30 in all, most of them being owls and dogs. They were sold in souvenir shops in the 1970's, along the Texas coast, where we grew up going to Port Aransas each summer. I found the stacked turtles made from cowrie shells in an Alabama souvenir store last year. They have bobble heads and are hilarious. There are tons of kitschy souvenir shell items, and they are very inexpensive! Wouldn't this be a fun collection to start with your kids? They can add the shells they've collected at the beach themselves, and it would be quite an impact!

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