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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Masquerade Party!

For whatever reason, I have a facination with masks and add to my growing collection all the time. Imagine how fun it would be to have a bloggers masquerade party?

If your carving skills, like mine, are not the sharpest give your pumpkins a mask instead. Scary simple!!!

Masks are also a great idea if your short on time....

I've been working myself to the bone.

Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cinematic Fright!

Every Halloween we would begin the festivities with a time honored ritual.  We cloaked ourselves in theatrical attire and headed out into the darkness in search of coveted concoctions needed to sustain us until Thanksgiving. Along the way, we bumped into friends who appeared deathly and comical. When we began to struggle under the weight of heavy bags, we'd stumble home weary with tales of scary characters and places. Once safely inside, squeals of delight could be heard as bags were emptied across the table for inspection and strategic trading. A feast of skeletons, eyeballs, worms and other prized gifts concluded the evening. Then it was off to bed for the once little goblins with high hopes they would drift off into a restful slumber, free of tummy aches and ghostly dreams.

In more recent years at the A&A house, after the night's final tricks & treats are dispensed, we gather together for a more chilling form of entertainment. With only the glow of flickering flames from the fireplace, we settle in for cinematic fright. We watch and wait for something to happen to someone on the screen. It always does on All Hallows Eve.

A list to lure you into the spirit.....

Lady In White
This movie takes place in 1962 and  Lukas Haas, of "Witness" fame, plays the main character.  Most people have never heard of this movie. We stumbled upon it more than a decade ago. It has a Halloween theme, plenty of suspense, and depending on your age, could feel quite nostalgic. The very end is a bit hokey, but the rest of the movie makes up for it. Not for young children!

Hocus Pocus
The perfect family movie to get you in the mood for trick or treating! Parts may be scary or confusing for very young children. A super fun story about 3 witches that spans 300 hundred years. It's from Disney and the sets are truly fantastic!

Sleepy Hollow
Classic. One of our favorites! For teens and adults only.  Johnny Depp is Ichibod Crane. Treat!

What Lies Beneath
This movie is not Halloween related, but the backdrop is full of autumn scenery. The third star of this movie is the home. The interiors are beautiful and even though this came out in 2000, don't appear remotely dated. The bathroom, in particular, is fantastic! Stars Michelle Pheiffer and Harrison Ford. Treats for everyone!

The Others
If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it! It's not about Halloween, but a truly eerie movie.  A very big trick awaits you in a perfectly orchestrated surprise ending!!!

What are your chilling favorites?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Decorating

Just the mere mention of these two words would have many running scared. Generally, I think the perception is that Halloween decor is tacky. And often what we see displayed in stores only confirms this fact. However, if you scout beyond the typical discount store, I think the choices have improved greatly and hopefully our perceptions as well.

My spider web convex mirror makes a most suitable backdrop!

A mini skeleton rests in the coffin.
Even though my kids are teenagers, I still make the effort to do some sort of Halloween decorating. I think they would be a bit disappointed if I didn't and I know I would miss it too! My assortment is mostly of the vintage reproduction variety mixed with some glittered, beaded and jeweled favorites. Toss in a few fresh pumpkins and a dose of humor and I'm done.

I borrowed one of my husband's vintage French newspapers for this display.

White pumpkins, feathers and mice greet visitors.

A trip down memory lane....

 Halloween 2002. My goblins with friends on our front steps.

All of these decorations I've had for quite awhile except for the tea towels! Thanks to an Etsy introduction from my bloggy friend Kat at Low Tide High Style, they arrived Saturday!

Old Spool Embroidery provided bewitching elegance in the kitchen.

What's brewing in spooky decor at your house?

Trick or Treat?

Vintage pumpkin heads: Mesmeralda's
Beaded pumpkins & garland: Crate & Barrel
Velvet mice: Pottery Barn
Silk frames with taffeta ribbon: Savvy Home & Garden
Candlesticks & bronze glittered candles: Villeroy & Boch
Acanthus leaf vessel: Pear Tree Cottage
Tea towels:

All photos courtesy of A&A

Friday, October 22, 2010

Picture Perfect

I came across this living room and library recently and fell in love! It's one of those rooms that I am not trying to edit or change something. Nothing needs to be altered in my view. It has tons of books, aqua walls, beautiful floors and an amazing fireplace. The presence of these elements rank it high for me without all the other perfect pairings. And, because I am not always so helplessly attracted to interiors this vibrant, I know the mix is perfectly done.

I don't know the blog source I snatched it from (very sorry), the publication, the designer (could it be Miles Redd) or the photographer. I am hoping a savvy reader will be able to help me with the credits and details?

This weekend we will celebrating my husbands birthday, my son is coming home from college for a visit and we will have plenty of teenagers roaming the A&A interiors. Picture perfect.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vicente Wolf:Lifting The Curtain On Design!

I remember my visit to the bookstore several years ago, when I spotted Vicente Wolf's first book, Learning To See. I was with my husband. We often go book shopping together, head off in different directions, then meet somewhere in the middle with our stacks of possible purchases.

This visit was different. I forgot to meet up after an hour. My husband found me on the floor reading one book. I never sit on the floor. I remember my reaction well. It hasn't change from the first book to magazines showing his work. This is different. This is sexy. Some may find my description odd or not agree, but to me it's perfectly clear.

Vicente Wolf  approaches a space with great confidence.  He is informed by the architecture and the client but the decisions and selections are not just intuitive, but seem almost primal.  His interiors always have color, texture, antiques and artwork. But no one component jumps out to steal the spotlight. The details just reveal themselves to you...slowly.

His trademark yellow flowers that show up in so many of his rooms are never distracting. They are not a jolt of energy, but instead a subtle illumination.

His use of round tufted oversized ottomans are in stark contrast to the sleek trays he places on top. A perfect combination of masculine and feminine.

There are examples of his unique approach to holding the television. Put it plain sight. Make it alluring.

His smart use of pictures ledges allows for a revolving art gallery.
And, he does not shy away from humor! There are many examples if you look closely at his work. Anyone with a sense of humor is just more sexy.

Vicente Wolf is not just a renowned American designer, a world wide traveler, gifted photographer, but also a most entertaining story teller. Very sexy!

I truly learn so much from reading his books. While the photography is stunning, the interiors are beautiful, it's his insights on design and detailed descriptions of his travels that truly captivate me.

Last night, I carefully removed the plastic off his latest book, Lifting The Curtain On Design.  I immediately slid the dust jacket off, which I do with all my books, to see if it revealed the vivid yellow cover that I anticipated. I read late into the night. I am nowhere near done. So far, my expectations have been exceeded.  Now another yellow spine will grace my bookshelves and continue teaching me more about what makes good design!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Harrison Howard

I am not artistic. In high school art class I could turn out the occasional decent drawing and I am able to do basic sketches for clients, when necessary, but that's about it.  My husband's father was an artist and loved to paint. It was his hobby and passion, but not his career. My son inherited the artistic gene and would spend hours drawing and painting. But, once a love of sports took over, his supplies wound up in the back of his closet.  I am endlessly fascinated and in awe of those with artistic talent. I love looking at art and fantasize about pieces hanging on the walls of my own home.

Imagine a space with soaring ceilings, beautiful moldings, gleaming wood floors, the perfect seat to perch on and breathtaking original artwork gracing the walls. Yes, in theory your very own gallery. I do this's the perfect escape!

Several weeks ago I discovered the work of Harrison Howard. It was being featured on the wonderful blog of Coty Farquhar.  I was mesmerized by the vibrant color, details, and story each work contained. Truly brilliant imagination captured. I was so taken, I called my husband come into my office to view the pictures. He commented that they seemed from another era.

Mr. Howard saw my comment on Coty's blog and emailed me to say thank you, but more importantly to share some thoughts about a common link we had.  Mr. Howard had read some of my posts and specifically the Letter To My Son struck a cord with him as his own son departed for college 2 years earlier. We both agreed it is a rather odd grieving process a parent goes through during their child's launch into adulthood. The other somewhat ironic husband and son's middle names make up his full name!

More recently, I have noticed pictures of his work on other blogs, so it seems I am late in my discovery of Mr. Howard's remarkable gift! If it is new to you...enjoy!

Wishing you a colorful autumn weekend!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Journey To Hogwarts Castle!

Last Friday, we left town for a little adventure. We arrived home last night weary from our visit to a magical, dream inducing place. 

Four Muggles took the train...

to Hogwarts castle.

In the village of Hogsmeade there was snow on the rooftops. The architecture everywhere was spectacular!

We began our journey with a tour of the the school. Our first classroom visit was the conservatory.

Whispers from framed portraits echoed through passageways and corridors.

Inside some warnings from Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Then off on a fast ride inside Hogwarts. We encountered some dark characters on the Forbidden Journey, plenty of thrilling excitement that included a harrowing Quidditch match...on our brooms at dizzying speeds of course!

And, there at the end, to congratulate us on a job well done then bid us farewell was Dumbledore!

After leaving the castle, the 3 bravest Muggles ventured onto the Dragon Challenge for some high speed, upside down, looping thrills. The other muggle waited instead, sipping Butterbeer, to let the Hippogriff take us all on a flight of smaller proportions and a far smoother ride back to the streets of Hogsmeade.

Through the skies we soared up the side of the castle and around Hagrid's hut.

Then off to visit Ollivanders to scour and hunt for the perfect wand.

Maybe a broom too?

Friends watching from above...

Oh, and if you need to use the powder room after so much excitement...Myrtle will be in there...moaning!

All pictures by A&A and may not be copied or reproduced.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Basement Storage Room Makeover

We have owned our house for 17 years this month. When our kids were young, they wouldn't go down into the unfinished basement because it was too scary. Typical. To entice them we sealed the floor and applied a coat of white epoxy paint, added a huge Berber carpet remnant and put 100 watt light bulbs in all the rafter sockets. This allowed for Big Wheel riding, Nerf basketball, playing dress up, and eventually in-line skating with neighborhood friends. Yes, the occasional spider halted play and damsels in distress had to be rescued, but it worked decently. Then we moved in 2001.

During our 4 year departure, it seems our basement became party central for the renter's teenagers. As in, the police were called to our house twice according to our friends and neighbors.  Back to square one. Clean up everything and repaint the floor. Add a guest bedroom and full bath then finish the majority of space as a media room and a hangout for our now teen children.  Minus the nightclub inspired antics and elixirs.

Entrance to the storage room

On one end of the basement is where the HVAC, water heater and sump pump are located. It would also be the new enclosed storage room for everything. And, literally everything got shoved in here when the construction was taking place. My husband built the shelving ( from 2x4's and plywood) years ago, it was the only thing that saved this space from becoming a total dump!  New stuff came in. A few things went out.  But, not nearly enough. It was the beginning of Oscar's takeover.

Things that keep the A&A house comfortable

Step 1:
Take everything out. Vacuum and mop. I could not bring myself to photograph this part. The contents stretched nearly to the other side of the finished part of the basement!

Step 2:
Paint the floor. Two coats of epoxy.  Let it dry for 48 hours.

Step 3:
Implement my 3 D system. Several bags of trash were dumped.  Then I held a little tag sale in my basement. I called a few friends who share the same aesthetic as me and they each brought a friend. In case this seems odd, friends & family have shopped my storage room before. They know buying is a necessary part of my work and that I love to scour and hunt. Many of them do not. But, they do enjoy the deep F&F discount! I will on occasion shop my stash for clients. A bed, chair and bulletin board were the first things go back in the spring for this project. Many items were also loaded up in my car and donated to our local thrift store. And, of course I decided to keep a few treasures, such as this wire urn:

A longtime favorite!

Suzanne Kasler used the same one here.

Step 4:
Create a small work area. Install sheets of pegboard to hang paint supplies and tools.


Peg board up and floor painted


Mr. A&A loves this space!

Behind the HVAC is a decent amount of useful space, but it's very dark. My husband does a lot of the painting around the A&A house (a skill acquired working summers during college and paints as well as the best contractors I know) and kept his supplies in a plastic opaque bin.  Not efficient.  He was always searching for something and buying duplicate supplies. Need a putty knife?


Right side

Same side...yes, there was more in the corner!


After-right side

After-wide view.  Everything in & organized!

You may have noticed from the before shots, I already had a system in place for holiday decorations.  Bins are colored coded based on the Holiday. Good thing too, since a few were shoved in places they didn't belong! In addition, the Christmas bins require labels, indicating their contents, since there are so many.  I don't always use the same decorations from year to year and it's great to know exactly what I am pulling from the shelf.  Only a few new containers needed to be purchased. Clear bins (lower left side) are the best choice for many things so contents can be identified at a glance. Now there is plenty of room to walk around. Before there was only a path with stuff blocking off one side of the doors! In all likelihood things will be reduced even further as I go through bins this holiday season.


Before-left side...OMG!

After-left side, middle shelf.  What I decided to keep.

After-left side with room to spare!
  Step: 5

Abide by the rules:
1. Cardboard boxes/shopping bags can not be used for storing items.
2. Color code and/or label bins that are not clear plastic.
3. Group and store like items together.
4. Keep  floor storage to a minimum.
5.. Make sure that everything remaining is accessible!

What it cost:
Peg board: $17/sheet
Hooks/organizers: $15/pkg.
Plastic storage drawers: $11each
Clear storage bins: $40 for 3
Concrete paint:$25/gallon
Labor/Organization plan: Seriously unpleasant/free!