Saturday, April 23, 2011

Furbaby Update: Otto & Lulu at 16 Weeks

Bernie Cuddles with Otto, 15 weeks old
Over the past couple of weeks, I have taken hundreds of blurry pictures of my puppy dogs, who are too full of energy to sit still and mug for the camera.  I should probably get out the big Nikon with the faster shutter speed for candid puppy shots, but the little red Canon PowerShot is so much more convenient. 

Check out Bernie with Otto at 15 weeks, when Otto weighed in at 30 pounds.  Can you believe this man wasn't sure he wanted to get dogs?

Little Miss Lulu, 15 weeks old, 26 pounds
 Those pictures were taken almost a week ago.  This morning I managed to get a couple more.  Can you tell how much bigger they've gotten?

Otto & Lulu at 16 Weeks: What Should I Do to Get a Treat, Mommy?
Lulu says: "Rub my tummy, please!"
Lulu & Otto, 16 weeks
You have no idea what I went through to get that one picture of two puppies both looking at the camera, holding still long enough for me to get a picture that didn't blur.
Lulu & Otto Sharing their Favorite Toy and Favorite Blanket
That's all you get for today!  Happy Easter Weekend, everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's Up With the Monogrammed Cars?

So, is this just a weird Charlottean anomoly, or are monogrammed automobiles tooling around in suburbs and cities across the country?  I snapped these pictures at red lights just so I could share them with you, in case the Laverne-mobile trend hasn't yet made it to your neck of the woods:
Now, don't get me wrong -- I've got nothing against monograms per se.  I love giving monogrammed baby blankets as shower gifts, like this one I did for a client's daughter last spring:

It's one of the few DIY gifts I actually have time for, and I love bestowing formal monograms on brides and infants to commemorate those momentous new beginnings in life.  I used monogram designs from Embroidery Arts, but I don't remember which style that was.  Embroidery Arts also has a wonderful gallery of their customers' monogrammed projects featuring their embroidery designs that you can check out, and they also have an online Monogram Museum of antique and vintage monograms, mostly hand-embroidered handkerchiefs that are lovely for inspiring your own projects as well as giving a good historical overview of how monogram styles evolved over time in step with trends in the other decorative arts. 

Circa 1940's-1950's Monogram from Embroidery Arts' Monogram Museum
Monogrammed handkerchiefs were once fairly commonplace personal items.  Powerful monarchs also used monograms extensively.  This wrought iron gate to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia features the double A and Roman numeral III of Alexander III, whose full name was Alexander Alexandrovich:

Henry VIII commissioned this combined monogram of his initial with that of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and had it carved all over his palace as well as adorning his custom made suits of armor:

I like monogrammed bookmarks, pillows, engraved pens, and other personal items that are both functional and beautiful, where the monogram style is appropriate for the item upon which it is inscribed.

Not all monograms are tasteful, however.  Laverne & Shirley -- enough said there.  Gotta love Laverne, whose entire wardrobe was embroidered with a giant "L" across the chest.

Now, back to the monogrammed cars.  Elaborate script monograms are fabulous on towels, bathrobes, and wedding invitations, but they seem a bit out of place on the back of a minivan or SUV.  I don't actually know anyone personally who has a monogram on her car (These car monograms are usually, but not exclusively, some variant on hot pink script, so I'm pretty sure this is a girlie thing), but I'm curious about the phemonenon.  Is this about struggling to maintain individuality in a sea of cars on the highway that all look, more or less, the same?  Is it an attempt to feminize and/or glamorize the vehicle?  Are we spending so much time in our cars these days that they've become our homes-away-from-home, and the monogrammed car is like the decorated, personalized home on wheels?  I wonder how many of these monogrammed cars are driven by newlyweds who are happy and excited about their new initials?  Could there also be a humorous aspect that I'm missing?  Does the monogram say, "I may not have a linen hankie or ride around in a carriage, but I'm really an elegant princess at heart?"  I'm all about the elegant princess thing, too, by the way -- someday I'm going to make myself an adult-size princess pettiskirt to wear with a tiara to school functions.  My sons will be so proud...  But I digress.

If YOU or someone you know has a monogram on the rear window of your car, please use the comments feature to clue me in.  I'm dying to know what's up with that!  Meanwhile, if you don't have a monogram on your car but you think they're cool and you'd like to get one, I found some online sources:  Crystal Elegance Custom Gifts, Cute Notepads, and Boutique Me.  No, I didn't order one for myself yet...  but I'm slowly warming up to the concept.  After all, yours truly has been known to indulge an odd monogramming impulse or two.  Case in point: the ketchup monograms that are de riguer at our house whenever meatloaf is served:
Anders' Ketchup Monogram
Lars's Ketchup Monogram

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fire Restoration Update: Drapery Installations Begin in the Kitchen!

The project I've been working on for the clients who suffered a house fire last summer has finally started installing this week, and everything looks amazing.  The client's objective was to take this tragedy and use it as an opportunity to make her home "even better than before," and that's exactly what we've done.

Kitchen as decorated by Previous Homeowner

 I'm just going to post a few snapshots for now, just to whet your appetite.  This first shot is of the kitchen as it was when the client purchased this home several years ago.  The drapery treatment was from the previous homeowner, and my client hated these pendant light fixtures with a vine detail that reminded her of serpents.

Same Kitchen, Redecorated Prior to Fire
This is a view of that same elevation after I worked with the client the first time around. We replaced the serpent pendants with Quadralli pendants from Fine Art Lamps, and I designed this kimono-inspired medallion swag treatment to give the kitchen more of an Asian contemporary aesthetic while indulging the client's love of exquisite drapery textiles.

Same Kitchen, January 2011
Now, here's what that same kitchen looked like a couple of months ago, when the custom built, solid tropical wenge wood cabinetry installation began.  The cabinetry was built by Bill Truitt Wood Works, Inc. of Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Same Kitchen, April 6, 2011, 9 AM
...And here's what the kitchen looked like yesterday, when the drapery installations began.  The cabinetry and gorgeous art glass backsplash tile have been installed, all the appliances have been replaced with upgrades, and the remaining bit of crown molding around the new range hood installed later on in the day.  I recovered the client's bar stool seats in Lee Jofa Jasper Velvet, and we have a swivel glider chair for the adjacent keeping room area coming that will be upholstered in the same fabric.  The Fine Art Lamps pendants have been replaced with identical fixtures, and the drapery installations and furniture deliveries are about to begin.

Brian Installs the Iron Drapery Medallions
In this picture, the builder has already installed the remaining crown molding around the range hood, and my drapery installer is putting up the iron Artigiani medallions for the kimono swag valance that was recreated to be identical to the treatment I originally designed.  The Pyramid medallion drapery hardware is from Helser Brothers, the company that sent me to Paris last January to cover the Maison et Objet trade show for their Why Helser? blog.  Just for the record, I loved Helser Brothers' beautiful products and outstanding service even before they sent me jet-setting to Paris.

Debra & Brian Finessing the Swag Valance Installation
...Ta da!  The first of many drapery treatments installed.  After taking this picture, I had Brian turn the medallions so they would be squares instead of diamonds, which I like much better with the new cabinetry.

I'll be posting more photos of this installation over the next few days.