Monday, January 31, 2011

DIY? Heck no, YDI (You-Do-It)! Pulleeeeze?

Courtesy of HGTV
Why wasn't I born a do-it-yourselfer? I love the idea of being handy, but when I try a DIY project  everything something always gets lost in translation. I recently saw a video with Dan Faires from HGTV's Design Star that made me think about giving another shot at being a DIYer. Although the coffee table I've been dreaming about is much more streamlined, more modern, this is so close, it just could be the "one". And to be able to make it myself? I think I hear the beginning of a hum of an angel or two! AHHH, can you hear it?

But nearly every project that I attempt leads to some sort of disaster. Remember that folding screen fiasco? And if I'm not smart handy enough to be a DIYer, couldn't I have at least married one? I mean, I really try not to be, but I am so jealous of these women who dream up all of these fantastical ideas, only to have their very own Mr. R's build houses made of cotton balls, or planters made of popsicle sticks, or firebowls made of cement (now, that one I totally want!) Ah well, good for them, I say!

So, I guess I'll just keep thinking up my own fantastical ideas, and maybe someday I'll bump into Dan Faires or some other lucky handy-man in a dark alley... the rest will be history. The evidence will be the new coffee table in my living room!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Great walls

When I was visiting the home and garden of Hortense Miller last week, it dawned on me to begin to look at things with a "fresh" eye. Hortense was such an inspiration! She lived an amazingly creative life, between her gardening, her artistry, and the way she put her home together. And that bamboo fence that she designed and built triggered the idea for this post.

With camera in hand, off I went trying to see normal things in a new or different way. I started taking photos of walls and fences around town. I fell in love with the way shadows are cast from the vertical or horizontal slats, and the mid century style to some concrete walls. It's pretty crazy that when you finally look at something in a new way, everything about it begins to look interesting! 

I love this mid century pattern!

Shadow play.

Laguna's version of the stone wall.

Afternoon sunlight creates interesting shadows.

Rustic charm.

Some of these images are Laguna landmarks. Just for fun, can you name any of these locations?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An inspirational artist and gardener

Hortense's lovely, time-weathered hand
Recently, I had the immense pleasure of touring the delightful home and garden of Hortense Miller with my good friends, Janine, who writes the blog Laguna Dirt, and Jill (Jill's mermaid garden was also featured in Laguna Dirt).

Oh my, What an afternoon! Wandering through the rugged 2.5 acres that overlook Boat Canyon, on the same paths that Hortense wandered was simply heaven. Feelings of peace and oneness with nature, I completely understood Hortense's deep appreciation for the plants, animals, and nature that surrounded her and encompassed her home.

Wild gardens


More wildness

Hortense was an avid gardner, and knew the names of every plant that inhabited her hillside haven . She didn't care much for manicured gardens, which is quite evident in her own garden. Although her garden has become unruly since her death, something tells me she would have found humor in that and admired  her obstinate plants all the more. Hortense shows her light side when she was quoted saying, "Age hasn't done a thing for me, but it's done wonders for the garden, it gets better all the time."

Hortense designed and often built these fences made from bamboo and rope.
She would open the gates for the deer each morning.
Photo by: Janine Robinson
 Miller moved into her retreat in 1959 at 51 years old. Sadly, her husband Oscar passed away just 3 months after moving into their hillside paradise. From that point on, Hortense lived alone with her beloved Cockatoo, Dody, and could be found working in her garden daily. She maintained her outdoor post until the age of 93 when she found she could no longer navigate the steep terrain.

Looking at the house from a garden path
I can't believe that I didn't take more garden photos! I guess it's hard to point and shoot when you're enraptured with your surroundings. A true photographer I am not!

Another garden gate. Check out these cool hand-made pottery hanging sculptures

The Gazebo sits on a hill of Korea grass and overlooks the house

A detailed look at the Gazebo. Notice the hand-painted mural on the right.

Hortense's outdoor reading nook. I'm swooning over those Walter Lamb chairs!
But now I'll move on to her fabulous Mid Century Modern home, designed by architect Knowlten Fernald, Jr. and completed in 1959, it's the place of Mid Century fantasies. It is that simple, indoor-outdoor living that MCM fiends (like me!) adore! Her home was perfection and the place where her true artist self could be explored. She painted murals and whimsical drawings and sayings in the most unexpected places (like her bathroom!). I found a mention of her home being featured in Home and Garden Magazine in 1959, but darn! I couldn't find any photos or story to back that up.

The sun-drenched dining room. Are those Wegner chairs paired with the Saarinen table? 

The ultra modern kitchen. 

Can't you just picture Hortense sitting at this desk, journaling and documenting her plantings

A wonderful airy space. Notice the bird cage on the left. It was originally for her Cockatoo, Dody, but Dody was never, ever  put in his cage!

More to gush over. The handmade globe hangs from a thin wire from the ceiling.

The sun streams through the glass between the bricks

The brick wall continues past the glass wall into the garden. Hortense's garden hats
are still on the rack. I wonder which was her favorite?

Musings on the bathroom wall

The desk in the guestroom. I love the way Hortense put things together.
She had quite an eye for detail.

A sitting area in the Master Bedroom. I die for those red Wegner chairs!

Oh, the joy! That lamp, that chair, that fireplace...
And I wish I took a close-up of that ultra-cool mural!
One view of the Master Bath. I adore the fainting bench! 
Hortense died in 2007 at the age of 99, just six weeks shy of her 100th birthday. An ardent environmentalist, a progressive-minded feminist, an artist and devout naturalist, Miller was the kind of woman that I wish I could have known.

I'm sure she was thinking of her next project,
whether in the garden or on some unsuspecting wall.
If you're in Laguna, and want make a reservation to visit this a-maze-ing place, call the Laguna Recreation Dept. at least 2 weeks in advance: 949-497-0716. I highly recommend it! I really can't wait to go back. Springtime in this garden must be what dreams are made of!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Flea market madness

I've fallen in love. Hard.

I've been going to flea markets and swap meets almost my entire life. When I was a kid and lived in Clarence, New York, my sister's best friend's family owned the local flea market called Hickeys Flea Market. We scoured the trash and treasures every Sunday morning after church. Such great memories!

Lately, the only flea market that I've been going to has been the local Irvine Antique Fair, which is on the first Sunday of the month. Well, yesterday I took off late by flea market standards and headed north to the Long Beach Swap meet. 

Let me just tell you, it was THE most fun that I've had in ions! There was more than even I could have bargained for. Ah, sheer bliss!

Of course, I didn't have a whole lot of cash to work with, but even walking through the never-ending aisles of wonderful treasures was intoxicating!

I found and splurged (don't tell Mr. R!) on a set of 4 butterfly chairs! I have been searching e-bay and craigslist for years for these beauties. Whenever I found one that was affordable, I'd always be outbid. Uhggg! So frustrating! And craigslist never even had one on their site. Never!

I'll change out the covers and spruce up the paint.

Can't wait to put these in the backyard!

I also found this all wool queen size blanket for $10! I love the creamy yellow and white colors. And it's pristine condition is amazing!

All wool from Holland
Perfect condition!
Like I said, I've fallen hard for the Long Beach Swap Meet. Sorry e-bay and Craigslist, but I'm breaking up with you. I know it's difficult, but it has to be.

I can't wait for next month!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More than luck

The very last sentence of my last post was, "Wish me luck!", in trying to get my guys to help me drag those folding screens onto the back deck. Well, that never happened! I guess I needed more than luck.

I woke up this morning to both screens laying on the front porch, pretty much smashed to smithereens. What a mess! Apparently it got pretty windy last night, and one screen toppled onto the other, and well, that was that. Looks like I really needed a windscreen!

So... back to square one on the folding screen project. After sweeping up all of the glass and pieces of door, I assessed the damage. Out of six doors or panels, only three were left somewhat intact with no broken glass. I'm going to see if I can put together one folding screen with those three panels that are left, but I'm not so sure the frames will hold. They really took a beating when the fell over!

 I was sooo happy that I actually finished a DIY project! Ah well...
( I can't stop laughing at myself!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just another winter day

Yesterday was one of those days. One of those days in a really good way! I really do feel sorry for my east coast friends who are stuck in blizzards and ice storms right now, but I just have to be another annoying Southern California gloater right now. It has been so gorgeous out the last couple days, wandering around the beach and hiking up the hill have been an utter delight!

The view along Heisler Park

Through the palms
Notice not even a ripple in the ocean

Looking north from Heisler Park
Oh, what a day! It's is about 80 degrees on my back deck right now. Not bad for the middle of winter!

Don't hate me because I'm warm. Well, I understand if you can't help yourself.

My friend and I hike from Laguna Village to Top of the World neighborhood, which is about 1000 feet elevation, anywhere from once a week to maybe four times a week. I've had this idea for awhile of creating a wind screen for my back deck out of old glass doors, so yesterday when we happened to notice these out in somebody's front yard in their junk pile, I had to snag them.

Junk? Who could resist?
Not being able to control myself, we loaded them up in my car, and I went to work on them, making them into 2 separate folding screens.

Make sure bottom is even, so when you stand them up they don't wobble.
Lay out the doors on a flat surface. You'll need 4 hinges.

Screw in 2 hinges, one near the top, and one near the bottom of the door.
You'll then need to flip the doors over, so you can screw the other 2 hinges on the next panel.

Yes, I still have my feather wreaths up. I think they'll be up until at least February.
And there you have it. One screen completed!

I put together the second one even more quickly than the first. Now I just have to get one of my guys to help me drag them out to the back deck. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Even more on the Evans' garden!

Cindy and Mark told Janine, from Laguna Dirt and I that the LA Times was planning to a feature their home and garden, but with the weather being cold, gloomy and threatening rain when the original date was set, I didn't know when they would eventually come out.

So, I was really thrilled to pick up last Saturday's paper, and there it was in the Home section! How cool is that? You can read the article here.

Somehow I couldn't get both the story and the pics on the same link. So, forgive me, but I'll share the pics below.

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
View from the dining room looking into the festive kitchen

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
Janine and I mostly wandered around the garden, but the LA Times folks focused more on the intereior. It was the Home section, after all!

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
Photo Gina Ferazzi
Cindy and Mark with Maude (under the table) and Junior. 

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
The beautiful garden for a backdrop

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
Siesta time

Photo: Gina Ferazzi

Photo: Gina Ferazzi

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
Mark also plays and collects guitars

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
Their dramatic dining room looks into the colorful kitchen

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
Cindy wanted her kitchen to remind her of her Mexican Grandmothers' kitchen

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
The latest flea market find: a wooden firescreen that depicts Mission San Juan Capistrano

Now we leave the house and get back to the garden... 

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
An vintage barbeque, that still works, is filled with succulents

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
Remember this one? That sombrero kills me!

Photo: Gina Ferazzi
Mark and Junior check out the palapa
Pretty darn impressive! I don't know about you, but the LA Times hasn't knocked on my door to feature my house in their paper.