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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Doors are Windows into the Soul

I love doors. No, not The Doors. Not the band. I mean the thing you walk through as you enter your house. Whenever my husband and I travel, I always take tons of pictures of them. I don’t know what it is, but I love old, unique doors. Whether they are old, carved wooden doors or brownstone doors painted with high gloss paint, I love them so long as they have character. I feel like they have a story to tell, as if they have seen so many incredible things.

Our front door definitely would not have been my choice, but it was already on the house when we bought it. Yesterday I was thinking about my dream door. Depending on the house, it would either be made of weathered wood with ornate carvings or it would be one of those brownstone double doors, but I wasn’t sure if those could be converted into a single door. Well, as I was out shopping, I stopped by a European antique store near my home and lo and behold, their front door was a converted brownstone door. It is possible!

Paris and New York have their share of beautiful doors, but one of the best places for door spotting is the colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. It is an enclave for artists and American and European expats. The colonial architecture in San Miguel is stunning (more on this in a later post), so it is full of beautiful doors and whimsical door knockers.

We took these pictures during our trip to San Miguel in March of 2006.

Everyone Loves a little Gossip

I love Manhattan, fashion, over-the-top teen drama (it's part of my unofficial job description) and I must admit, gossip. Now, I can and will definitely keep a secret and I wouldn't consider myself loose-lipped, especially not in comparison to most of my friends. However, I do love hearing juicy, little tidbits every now and then. Naturally, I love the CW's new show, Gossip Girl. It has all the makings of a fine, little guilty pleasure. It seems that I am lucky that I haven't read the series of books by the same name because those who have, seem to be having a tough time getting past the casting on the show. It's sort of like The OC meets Cruel Intentions with lots of fabulous New York scenery and an amazing soundtrack. I do have to wonder if the creators of these shows have ever met real teenagers, though. I don't think I've ever had students who look like that.

This Week's Quote

My husband went out of town for five days this week. I had no idea just how lonely I would be without him. It was the longest we had ever been apart in the almost seven years we've been together. Our house felt so big and empty while he was gone. He is my best friend and the love of my life and I honestly cannot imagine not having him in my life.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Design Inspiration for our Home Office

So, the hubby and I have been talking about getting a new desk and redecorating our home office. I think we'll paint the room a grayish taupe color, add some shelves, and an Eames Management Chair. After looking online, I fell in love with a couple of desks from Ralph Lauren Home. I absolutely love the modern twist of the sawhorses! However, the desks retail between $16,000 to $18,000. That's way more than we want to spend on a desk, but they are just so chic! How can we get this look at a more reasonable price?
Ralph Lauren's Highbridge and Brigham desks:

Enter CB2, Crate and Barrel's younger, edgier sister. I found two dining tables with a similar look to the Ralph Lauren desks for a fraction of the price! Even though these are dining tables, they are not as long as the RL ones (we thought that could be a problem).

Here is the Reunion Table, which retails for $399.

The Silverado table for just $299:

The table would be paired with a timeless Eames Management Chair.

And I think it would be cool to finish the room with this coral chandelier from Worlds Away, though I don't know how practical that would be.

I'd also like to add an inspiration board on one of the walls to pin inspiring photos and magazine tear outs on. Opinions? Am I crazy for wanting to use a dining table as a desk?

Quote of the Week

Proverbial wisdom from the ever-fabulous, Carrie Bradshaw:

"In life we do things. Some we wish we had never done, some we wish we could replay a million times in our heads, but they all make us who we are. And in the end, those experiences shape every detail about us. If we were to reverse any of them, we wouldn't be at the exact place that we are today. So just live. Make mistakes, and have wonderful times but never ever second guess who you are, where you have been, and most importantly, where it is that you are going."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Long-Awaited Sex and the City Movie

I am beyond excited about the upcoming Sex and the City Movie! I have every season on DVD and watch them almost every night before bed. I've missed the SATC characters so much and can't wait to see how their lives have evolved.

Did Charlotte and Harry's long-awaited baby finally arrive? Are Samantha and Smith still together? How do Miranda and Steve like living in Brooklyn? How old is Brady now? And of course, the question everyone wants answered...what happened with Carrie and Big? Are they still together? From the look of this picture, which was taken during filming yesterday, I'd say that their chemistry is still sizzling. The movie is slated to hit theaters on May 30, 2008.

Update: Charlotte's pregnant in the movie!!!

Seasonal Envy

The air is getting crisp and the leaves are changing colors in most of the country right now. Several of my favorite bloggers are posting about their fall wish-lists, full of cute dresses, trench coats, and sweaters. However, I live in Texas, land of heat and humidity. While most people are enjoying fall foliage, apple pie, and fall accessories, Houstonians are burning up, with temperatures still in the nineties. My birthday happens to be in early November. It has been warm on every birthday that I can remember. I know that I can't control the weather where I live, but it would be nice to actually experience my favorite season.

Job Perks

One of my many, many job perks is the opportunity to be surrounded by sneezing, coughing, sniffling teenagers everyday. Oh the joy! I am a huge germophobe, so I have a gargantuan economy sized bottle of Purell next to my desk. I disinfect my hands after I touch anything my students have come in contact with. It's a bit extreme, but you would do it, too. Anytime one of them coughs or sneezes inside the room, I secretly freak out and hold my breath. After all, germs spread in a nine foot radius following a sneeze or cough. You knew that, didn't you?

Anyhow, Purell will only go so far. I have been sick at home for the past few days and I am sure that I can thank one of my students for this wonderful gift.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Travel Bug

I love to travel. It is absolutely my favorite thing to do. Experiencing new places is a source of inspiration and joy for me and I can guarantee that on any given day, you’ll find me daydreaming about the next place I’d like to visit.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some fabulous places, but the list of destinations I’m dying to see is still pretty long. Fabian and I are thinking we’d like to start trying to have a baby around this time next year, so I feel like we should try to get a few trips in before then. I would love to visit Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, London, Toronto, Lake Como, Positano, Capri, Santorini, Provence, The Loire River Valley, Cape Cod, Milan…the list goes on. I would also like to go back to San Francisco, San Miguel de Allende, Paris in the spring or summer, and I can never get enough of New York.

I would love to know where you’d like to go!

Salamanca, Spain
I will be spending a week here next summer.

Capri, Italy

Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America


Positano, Italy

Bilbao, Spain

Mexico City


Santorini, Greece

This Week's Quote

Friday, September 14, 2007

Make It Work, Tim

Tim Gunn's Guide to Style recently debuted on Bravo. I was eagerly anticipating the start of this show as I love Tim on Project Runway. He is a great mentor to the designers on PR and has an incredible eye for fashion. On the new show, Tim and model Veronica Webb take a style-challenged woman under their wing each week. They teach her about personal style and proper fitting clothes. Then, they arm her with a list of the Ten Wardrobe Essentials: the little black dress, the classic white shirt, a great blazer, classic trench coat, the day dress, the sweat suit alternative, a good pair of jeans, a skirt, classic dress pants, and a cashmere sweater and go shopping with her. It's a great list, but I feel like it is common knowledge for most people.

I'm sad to report that I have found the show uninspiring until now. There wasn't anything particularly original about it and as much as I love Tim Gunn, I feel like Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear are much more entertaining to watch. I've watched the first two episodes of Tim's show and will probably give it one more chance next Thursday night. If nothing else, it is pretty funny when Tim lets out his visceral "Gaahhh!" upon seeing the participant's horrific clothes. Please don't disappoint, Tim. Make it work!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reese Gets It Right

Reese Witherspoon continues to prove that looking gorgeous is the best revenge on the October cover of Elle. She has never looked better! She is in amazing shape and her hair looks so fabulous with long layers and bangs. I truly admire Reese. She is talented, intelligent, and seemingly grounded. She is one of the few celebrities I could picture myself being friends with.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coming Up for Air

Work has been crazy lately. I've been so busy working on lessons and grading AP essays and tests. On top of all that, our administration expects us to do all kinds of ridiculous things because we apparently have nothing better to do.

Sometimes teaching can be frustrating for a variety of reasons, but I feel like the most common reason is feeling under appreciated. Unlike with other careers, we do not reap any rewards for putting in countless extra hours and going the extra mile for our students. There are no promotions. There are no performance-based raises. Ultimately, I have to remind myself that I don't do this for the money (Obviously!) but for my students and for my love of foreign languages and cultures.

Today was interesting because I felt completely spent and overextended in both body and mind. However, a ton of my current and former students were really sweet throughout the day and let me know how much they enjoy my class or how much they miss having me as their teacher. I got high fives and hugs and even had a group of my former students come visit me this afternoon to catch up and let me know that they wish they were still taking Spanish with me. It's those moments that make it all worth it.

I have some ideas for new posts and will come back to write them as soon as I can come up for air.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007

J'adore Paris!

Paris is such a grand city. My husband and I were lucky enough to spend this past Christmas in Europe. First, we visited Rome and Florence and five days later, we traveled to Paris where we spent another five days. Though extremely cold in December, Paris is such a glorious city. The people are très chic, the food and pastries are divine, it's home to some of the world's greatest art museums, and the city itself is like a work of art. The architecture, culture, and history bring it to life. I really want to go back and see it in the spring or summer sometime.

While browsing Modern Girl Style, one of my favorite sites on the web, I came across Kamela Cody's latest post on inspiring Parisian hotels. She includes the grand dames like the Four Seasons George V and the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. Fabian and I almost always choose to stay in stylish boutique hotels, so the hotel on MGS that most caught my eye was the Hôtel du Petit Moulin in the trendy Marais district. It's reception stands in what was once a boulangerie, or French bakery. It looks incredibly charming, chic, and oh so Parisian. I love the moon and stars above the bed. I bet that would look adorable in a little boy's room.

Photo Credits:

Opera Garnier photo by my husband, Fabian.

Hotel photos: Modern Girl Style

I wish I could...

Do you ever think about things you wish you could do or talents that you wish you had? I spent some time thinking about this the other day and I came up with a few things.

1. I wish I could sing well.

2. I would love to be able to draw or paint. Sadly, my artistic skills haven't improved much since kindergarten.

3. I wish I had Samantha Brown's job on the Travel Channel. Unlike Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain, she doesn't have to eat a bunch of weird crap like haggis in Scotland or insects in the Philippines. She has had the opportunity to explore nearly every inch of Europe and Latin America, but she is so dull and cheesy! I could do her job so much better!

4. I sometimes wish I could tell people exactly what I am thinking without having to be P.C. or worrying about offending anyone. "Your ignorance offends me" "Are you a friggin' idiot?!" "No, I don't think you will amount to much and the mere sight of you pains me." "I don't give a damn." That felt nice.

5. I wish I could play the drums! I think it would be an awesome stress reliever. We went to the Maná concert this weekend (it was amazing) and Alex, the drummer played an awesome 10 minute solo. This isn't from the concert we went to, but it's the same solo:

6. I wish I liked working out. I do it because it's necessary (though not often enough) and envy those who do it because it makes them happy.

Okay, I'll stop here because I'm starting to think of general wishes as opposed to wishing for talents and abilities and I could go on for hours. What do you wish you could do?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Martha Stewart Sells her Homes

Okay, so she's never actually lived in them, but the houses Martha Stewart has designed and is currently selling with KB Home are inspired by her personal homes in The Hamptons, Maine, and Upstate New York. The only neighborhood selling these homes in Texas is about ten minutes away from me, so I convinced Fabian to go check them out with me a couple of weekends ago. Initially, I was skeptical because KB Home is not thought of as an upscale builder, but after visiting the Martha Stewart model homes, they have convinced me otherwise. Ever since that first visit, I have become a woman obsessed. I must have one of these Martha Stewart homes. Unfortunately, we are not in the market for a new home. We just bought our current house 17 months ago and it wouldn't be wise to sell with the market the way it is right now.

Now, as most of you know, I'm constantly talking about how much I miss the city and that we will move back in a few years when we will hopefully be able to afford to live in a beautiful home inside the loop. However, I seem to be regressing. Remember that post a couple of weeks ago when I described the strange force that was taking over me? You know, the one that made me feel like it might be alright to stay in the suburbs. Well, these Martha Stewart homes aren't helping my cause. I would gladly move 10 minutes further west than we already are if I could live in one of these homes. They have everything the homes inside Houston's 610 loop have. They have all the charm of old homes: wainscoting, subway tile, hexagon tile, coffered ceilings, picture frame windows, but they are new, so you won't have any of the pesky inconveniences of an older home like small closets. These homes have some amazing features like libraries, 3-way floor to ceiling dressing mirrors, enormous closets, mud rooms, and some seriously gorgeous kitchens. A similar home would cost upwards of $ 2 million in Houston's West University, Southampton, or River Oaks areas, but they are a fraction of that price in this community. You just have to be willing to drive into town.

As promised, I went back yesterday and covertly snapped some pictures for my files. In the event that these homes sell out before we are ready to buy, I will have pictures and floor plans to show a custom home builder. There are about 60 pictures, so I created some slide shows for you to see, but I don't think I will be able to add them into the post, so I will post the links instead. On our first visit, I fell in love with the Lily Pond home, but after visiting a second time, I think I love the Katonah home even more, though would choose a different elevation. It is a very open floor plan and would be fabulous for entertaining.

Katonah Model
Katonah 2
Katonah 3
Lily Pond
Lily Pond 2

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Domestic Divas

How do I love Martha Stewart and Ina Garten? Let me count the ways.

Ina Garten is one of my favorite Food Network personalities. She has such a great demeanor. I can only imagine that she would be very sweet in person. Every recipe of hers that I have tried has been delicious. Her food is elegant without being complicated or pretentious. Most recently, I made her recipe for Scallops Provencal. It was easy to make and turned out fabulous. One of the things I love most about watching Barefoot Contessa is seeing Ina's gorgeous home in the Hamptons. I'm always drooling over her beautiful kitchen and amazing gardens.

Always the gracious host, Ina makes even the most mundane event an occasion. Whether she is making dinner for her husband Jeffrey, having some girlfriends over for brunch, or having cocktails and hors d'oeuvres with every fabulous gay man on Long Island, she always sets a beautiful table with a lovely floral arrangement. The result is always elegant and inviting, never stuffy. I admire Ina for her kind spirit, killer ability to cook without being professionally trained, and her knack for effortless elegance.

While some people may not be familiar with Ina Garten, it seems that everyone knows Martha Stewart. Martha's empire is constantly expanding. Most recently she has added a home goods line at Macy's, Blueprint magazine, which is quickly becoming a favorite read for me, and a foray into the world of home building (more on that later). She now has her own line of paint and flooring and has 14 brands associated with her name. Although she isn't quite as relaxed as Ina, it seems that Martha has a knack for everything one would expect from a domestic goddess. She does it all and she does it beautifully.

Both Ina and Martha are an inspiration for me. Whenever I need to entertain, it seems that I inevitably turn to them for ideas. One of these days, I will try out Ina's coconut cake recipe. It always looks so delicious, but I hesitate to make it since Fabian doesn't like sweets. One of Martha's new home communities is located less than 10 minutes away from me. I'm going to try to go back this weekend and take some pictures. It is one more thing Martha has executed with her signature style.

This Week's Quote