The Joy of Junk Mail

junk mailLots of people I meet have a hatred for the mail; it’s shoved in drawers, overflowing from plastic bags, or abandoned in boxes for days on end. But my daughter and I actually fight to see who goes and collects the mail. We both rummage through, it as we slowly walk back to the step, seeing if there are postcards for her, or magazines and catalogs for me. Occasionally, there is a real letter, but sometimes it is just a few, official looking envelopes, screaming out for our attention, when they are merely clever impostors, pretending to be far more important than they really are.

We look at them together, and I roll my eyes at the credit card invitations, while she is excited at their promise of (seemingly) large amounts of money coming our way. I rip the plastic off the magazines, scan the headlines, and try to guess who is the latest beauty on the cover. I briefly believe them when they say that the new hair cut will make me look young and slim, then I put it carefully aside, coveting its promise for an indulgent, quiet read later on.

Getting the mail is a game to us, and I realized yesterday it’s because our focus isn’t on the bills and thoughtless, shiny pieces of advertisement (I always mean to take up the coupon crusade, but I just can’t seem to do it). These, we can’t avoid, but in the middle of the necessity is the fun of always having something unexpected to look forward to.

Yes, it may be setting the bar for enjoyment pretty low, but we never know what is going to arrive. Like everyone, I have had my fair share of devastating envelopes, but amidst the fear and breathlessness the garden catalogs continue to arrive, and the fashion magazines still sweetly call my name.

I know we are supposed to cut down on clutter, and unsubscribe to everything, but I don’t want my world to be that sanitized and pared down to exactly what I want. I control enough in my life, without knowing (and dreading) exactly what I will see every day. I like to be surprised; to have my eyes opened to something different, and to be allowed to wonder why on earth I have just received the latest bass fishing catalog …..

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph adapted from Martha Stewart

Fairy Light Tales

fairy light collage2Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a slight crush on Nigella Lawson; her cooking style is really similar to mine, and while I will never be as talented as she, I do tend to waltz around the kitchen at all hours, want everything to be delicious, and just know that daydreaming is an under-appreciated art.

One day, I was watching her cook, and I noticed that she had fairy lights around her kitchen window; assuming it must have been filmed during Christmastime, I thought they looked pretty, but didn’t think too much about it. The next time I watched, they were there again, and I realized that they weren’t just there for special occasions, she had them up year round. It was the first time, apart from being styled in magazines, that I had seen anyone use fairy lights in their everyday life.

It seemed so indulgent and fancy, that it just gave me another reason to like her even more. While I had often thought about buying my own fairy lights, I was never sure where I would put them, and I suspected that they might look a tad silly in my own corner of suburbia; after all, my home isn’t featured on television, and I can only ever pretend to be Nigella.

So, I added them to my wish list, and went about my daily life, until a few months ago when a friend and I visited our favorite home and garden shop. When we walked through the door, the sky high room was literally dripping in branches that were covered in teeny, tiny fairy lights. Excruciatingly beautiful copper wires had been delicately wound throughout the shop for miles; we couldn’t even see where each one began, all I know is that we couldn’t stop smiling. and we decided that we must curl up in a corner and spend the night there.
We never did, but our reluctance to leave was a small price to pay for a few, giddy hours of happiness.

When December came, I had my Christmas tree lights on all day, and I started to wonder how it would be when they were gone. I would miss having the small sparkles appear at the press of a button, but I petulantly told myself that they were only for special occasions, and they would be plugged back in again next year. Besides, who buys fairy lights when there are so many other important (grown-up) things to worry about?

A few days after the tree had been taken down, my friend and I exchanged presents. Inside mine were glorious strings of copper, fairy lights, and the happy, grateful madness began. My inner child took over, preconceived ideas were abandoned, and I immediately put them on the small tree in my living room. Now, whenever I want to, I just press the button, and the room (and my life) feels just a bit more special ….

Thank you, Stephanie!

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photographs: Top left: Pinterest Top middle: One Kind Design Top right: We Hang Christmas Lights Middle: Tesco Bottom right: Babble Bottom middle: Pinterest Bottom left: Home My Design



If you have a website and/or a blog (and yes, you really do need both), then our April 12th webinar (7-8 pm EDT) is a must! Deb Mitchell of Deb Mitchell Writing will teach you

  1. How to kick your fear of writing to the curb and start creating an online presence that works for your business
  2. The difference between good writing and effective writing
  3. The most important item you’ll ever write for your business – and why you need to write it before you launch your website and blog

All this – in just an hour! You’ll be ready to prepare/update your killer online presence!

And best of all? It’s free for ADE members – and only $24.95 for the public! Interested? Let us know before 12 noon on Monday and we’ll get you set up! Just send us an email at ade@associationofdesigneducation.com!



Our Latest News!

Our latest newsletter is filled with all the happenings at Association of Design Education! Read more . . .

Hazardous Decorating

marble coffee table1

The other day I went to visit someone, and I knocked the end cap off their gate. Because I didn’t know them very well, and it was in the dark, I hastily grabbed it and stuck it back on; mortified beyond belief, but also wondering why it had popped off in my hand so easily. Surely I was not the first one to do it?

When I watched a television show last night, a couple were “oohing and aahing” over a polished-like-glass marble floor. It actually made my heart beat faster (in a bad way) because as much as I dream of having marble counter tops in my kitchen, to look at it on the floor brought to mind images of me skidding on my backside and being carted off, in a very undignified fashion, in an ambulance. I could never wear high heels, children and dogs couldn’t tear around in crazy confusion, I could never leave the shower to grab the phone, and I would have to come in from the rain in a very sedate way, placing my drippy umbrella in a stand, and removing my coat and shoes before I even decided to venture onto the beautiful, marble floor.

Decorating can be hazardous, and I wonder sometimes if the wonder of it all gets ahead of the quality and the practicality? Like most people, I want it to look good, but if something doesn’t work for me, then the novelty wears off pretty darn quickly.

Along with my marble counter’s, I would love to have a gorgeous, new front door, with no screen door in front of it. I even know the exact one which I would get, and the color I would choose. But I like my windows and doors open, and I use the screen every single day; if I got rid of it, I would have a beautiful front door, but it would either be closed, or a welcome invitation to all sorts of unexpected critters coming in and out of my house.

When I get an idea, I do always try to anticipate the pitfalls, but one that I never gave much thought to was ripping up all the carpet in my house. It started off as a small spot by the front door, then slowly spread to every room. Apart from the extreme amount of time that it took, I found myself in the middle of a renovation with my toddler daughter; I knew she was there when I began, but for some reason I never thought about how it would affect her. I guess my post-baby brain assumed that she would just sit and wait, while I spent weeks ripping up carpet and placing thousands of rusty tacks into little porcelain bowls. She was never hurt, but there were more than a few close calls.

What I also didn’t think about was that my home would be twice as cold in the Winter time, that when the dog ran down the stairs it would sound like someone was throwing a barrel full of marbles, and that the floor would be so poorly built that when we laid on our tummies we could actually see through to the cellar below. Useful if we need to yell, or pass a note to someone, but not much good for our heating and cooling bill.

When Winter settles in, I wonder what on earth I was thinking and I crave being able to walk barefoot around the house on the squishy, soft carpet. But then Spring arrives; I forget my mistakes, and all I want to do is lie on my tummy, feel the sunshine warmth of the old, wooden floors, and watch the light peeking down through the cracks …

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph from Brabbu

The Association of Design Education approved Trainers have a terrific class schedule for April all over the country! Is there one near you? Here’s the schedule!


It’s almost tag sale season! You know, yard sales, garage sales, flea markets… gently worn, already loved bits and pieces with a dash of a history. I’m already gearing up and I have my list of wants and wishes ready to go. Soon, it’ll be time to clean out the car, grab some cash, and hit the road. And don’t underestimate curb appeal. Lots of people are just dropping things off at the curb—for free! My heart still aches the time I had to drive by two beautiful velvet chairs. Don’t let this happen to you.

So what should you be looking for? If you’re a beginner, start with the small stuff. Take stock of what you need and buy with your heart. It’s okay to offer a different price other than the one marked, but be fair. And if you’re trying to embellish existing furnishings and designs, be smart and take along photos of what you already have. Here’s my secret: Bring photos of your roomthis includes close-ups (for pattern reference and overall style), paint chips of any colors you’re trying to coordinate (hold those chips right up to each piece of fabric, rugs, and walls), and a measuring tape. If you’d like to stretch into the big leagues, then it’s best to brush up on antiques. You can find a multitude of books at your local library as well as lots of resources online.

This garage sale meets designer look really works. Notice all of the different patterns, colors, and materials. You might recognize this photo from the Hallmark show, Garage Sale Mystery where the proprietor is always finding treasure. Here are some tips to help you along. When you buy upholstered seats, there are two things to keep in mindcomfort and smell. Once it passes the smell test (yes, you have to get up close and personal), you have to make sure it’s comfortable to sit on. Take your time and be sure. When you’re buying seats for tables, or tables for seats, this is where your trusty tape measure comes in. Make sure the height of the table and the height of the arm (the chairs or yours) is within 2″ of each other to be a good match.

Scratches, worn paint, a few dentsthey’re all part of the charm. How do you like the miss-matched drapes? It works because the colors work well with everything in the room and they’re all the same color family. Don’t be afraid to put something old next to something new in a room. The juxtaposition between the two materials gives a room depth and interest.

What types of things should you look for?

  • Dishes, glassware, silverware – To be used as is or as vases, vessels, etc.
  • Distressed signs – To use in place of art. These really make a statement in a room.
  • Baskets and boxes – Use as is or as end tables, on walls as shelves or shadow boxes.
  • Old game sets – As accessories or hung as art.
  • Pottery and vases
  • Paintings and photographs
  • Light fixtures – Make sure you know how to make them work as you won’t know if they actually do.
  • Die cast metal vehicles and gadgets – Conversation starters for sure.
  • Clothing and accessories – Inspect carefully.
  • Metal or wood cabinets – A horizontal metal office cabinet can be used as a sofa table as pictured above.
  • Fabrics – Sometimes you’ll find fabrics by the yard and sometimes you’ll want to purchase clothing or bedding for the fabric alone.
  • and of course, furniture

Scour the newspaper, map your route, and have fun!

Photos: HallmarkChannel.com, Karlis Dambrans

Kim – http://www.BeautifulLivingBlog.com


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