Apparently, Milwaukee has the highest concentration of Halloween sales in the country. (I think many wholesalers are based here, so while sales are technically made, the items are shipped out. Anywho.). So no surprise that it's a big production and there's tons to do.

Now that Halloween is tomorrow, we are finally ready to partake in some of the many offerings. This began with "Hauntfest" last night. Another ticket giveaway, this time from my boss. Hauntfest is a haunted house set up annually on the official State Fair grounds. This year's was a tribute to Michael Jackson. First off, tickets are $15! Per person!

A hearst welcomes you.

Heck no, we're not paying that! Good thing these puppies were free. (Yes, we've fully acclimated to prices out here.) We had to wait 10 minutes in line to exchange our free passes for the numbered tickets to get in the 'fest. I wasn't really paying attention to the area beyond the booth, but I should have been. . . The wait AFTER getting the ticket, to enter the actual haunted house, was even longer!

Outside in the waiting area was a massive screen playing Michael Jackson's "Neverland" mini movie. (Weird.) A tent had snacks - Jon immediately hit that up, despite coming straight from dinner - a dance floor and a DJ. 

So we hung outside and watched the "Neverland" movie about 3 times. Somewhere in the middle a dance performance was announced. Yes! Action! Our next treat was Anita's Dance Crew, performing reenactments of Michael's videos: Billie Jean, Beat It, Bad and Thriller. Groups of high school girls danced while the videos played on the screen behind them (which was cool to compare the moves). Their costumes were awesome. In fact, I wanted to own the sequin black blazer from Billie Jean and the leather motorcycle jacket and leggings look from Bad. (Who covered the costume budget? Seriously? Call me.) I'm not sure the high kicks were literal interpretations of the videos, but they were effective. At least for the young boys watching.

Also excellent were the chainsaw murderer and enormous alien monster (7 feet tall in his costume, which was the most elaborate outfit I have ever seen - spared no expense) sneaking up on unsuspecting folks waiting outside the entrance. The chainsaw murderer (his face covered in blood, in a mechanic's onesie and revving a fake, life-size chainsaw that even smelled like gasoline) chased the young girls and boys mercilessly. Probably my favorite part of the evening was suddenly seeing a screaming kid race through the center of the crowd, followed by the equally sprinting and revving chainsaw murderer. Those kids were fast!

Alien. Ginormous.

After 50 MINUTES our ticket number was finally called. We end up in line with old people. Yes, I did hear an angry teen ask why we got to go first. And no, I did not respond when I heard his friend say 'it was all old people anyway.'

Hauntfest. We started off in a faux elevator that shakes you all over the place and lets you out in the "basement." After this we were on our own, following the maze-like corridors as kids in costumes jumped out left and right. More alarming than the constant screaming, flashing lights and terror sets that we walked through (mental hospital, jail, swamp, terrorized children, bathroom murders, crypt, morgue with body bags hanging from ceiling, etc.) was the absolute pitch black. At times, I had no idea what was up, down, left, right or someone's rear end. Which I probably ran into at least 10 times. The scariest part was technically not even scary. At certain parts the walls were replaced with giant black nylon pockets filled with air, closing in around you. In the pitch dark, as I was forced forward and down closer to the ground, with people in front of and behind me, I literally started to have a panic attack. Jon and I were convinced we'd veered off the course and had led our group behind the walls, lost for good. I was sure I'd end up on the bottom of a pileup of frantic bodies (being the smallest person in our group), suffocating in the dark. I just got the shivers remembering it.

It probably took 15-20 minutes to make our way through the whole place. The coolest part was a rotating barrel covered in flourescent paint that you walked through on an elevated metal walkway. Your entire sense of balance was lost. I was hoping we could stay in there, but the child actor forced us out. Rude.

All in all, a very impressive showing. And tonight? The corn maze.

1 MILE of haunted paths in a dark corn field.

If someone comes up behind me and lays a finger on my hair, they might meet a fist.

I'm already nervous.


The Uniform at the Movies

Here we are waiting in line at 9:00 AM on a Saturday to see "Under the Sea" at the brand new 3D IMAX theater.

Yes, our fellow theatergoers are grandparents and small children. And we all wore those amazing 3D glasses during the show. Butter popcorn for breakfast with fish swimming at our faces. It was pretty cool (not amazing) and the music was nice, but let's be real here - we got the tickets for free from Jon's colleague at work.

This showing was followed by 2.5 hours of Abbey walking around the mall alone while Jon went to see "Paranormal Activity" by himself.

Just a nice little Saturday up here in Milwaukee.

Disaster, Part 2

Jon on Monday.

That was me on Tuesday and Wednesday. 
Detergent and water, scrub, scrub. Stain remover, scrub, scrub.

Tomorrow is the last of the routine. Photo forthcoming. 
I am such an idiot.



A Milwaukee institution, ice-cream style. Only it's custard (no ice cream served here).

For 59 years Kopp's has served up daily flavors of custard, along with giant burgers and sundaes. Kind of like Ben & Jerry's flavors - for example, Grasshopper Fudge: mint custard with pieces of brownie. A little less sweet, with a creamier consistency, custard - with eyes closed - is pretty much indistinguishable from ice cream. Though the flavor of custard is a little more subtle than super sugary ice cream.

When you walk into the Bayshore store, a giant spoon and cherry greet you.

The machine spits out the day's flavors in a long, wormy shape. I know that sounds gross. Still didn't stop me from writing it.
That is one of yesterday's flavors, Mint Chip. Yummy.

We went for a sundae. When Jon spied the Peanut Butter Log, I knew we'd be eating it. Three scoops of custard, chunky peanut butter sauce and hard shell chocolate sauce (my favorite kind). Delicious. But next time I'm going for a cone of just one flavor.

Jon made me throw out the sundae after we'd almost eaten the whole thing. In his exact words: I cannot be controlled.

This whole portion control thing that doesn't happen in Milwaukee?
Not our friend.

P.S. Sorry for the horrible quality photos lately. All via Blackberry.


Disaster, Part 1

What is that, you say?

Just a little white paint. On the black and tan rug. In our rental house. Hilarious!

This little sitch occurred Sunday. Bored out of my brain after 7 hours of bad (lookin' at you, Giants) football, I decided to touch up some spots on the first floor trim where our movers nicked the walls.

Moi: Think I'm going to fix the marks by the stairs.

Jon: It's a rental.* You don't need to do that.

Moi: I don't mind. They left the paint.

Jon shakes the paint can while watching football as I hunt down a brush. He passes it over to me 60 seconds later and I, not trusting that he shook it long enough, begin to tilt the can to shake it more as I walk towards . . . the center of the living room. (Of course! Because this is in the opposite direction of where I need to be painting!)

Side Note: Jon and I are dressed in matching sweat ensembles: grey pants, black socks and Brown hooded sweatshirts. Only I have my Uggs on. Which I am prone to trip in, daily.

I begin walking towards the center of the room and over our precious Turkish rug and dog Houston, when I trip, lurch sideways and spike the paint can into the carpet and wall.

Like, I hate the rug, wall, closet door and antique dining room chair so much I'm going to punch them all in the face with this paint.
So hard, I will make them cry. Tears of white latex.

Which I did.

The next hour and a half is spent doused in water and vinegar and surrounded by crumpled, wet paper towels, as we attempt to mop up, dilute and lessen the damage of the paint bomb. No words are spoken other than silent terrified thoughts between shared looks. The Giants offensive game gets weaker and weaker. Hell has broken loose and moved into our house.

We finally give up, lay a towel over the stain and decide to reassess again tomorrow.

Tomorrow = Monday. Reassessment is I hate paint. Decide to address Tuesday.

*Bad Omen 1: We are hopefully signing a lease for December 1. As the landlords.

Outside our bedroom window



The New Uniform

An evening out at the movies. 

(Saw The Informant! Don't bother.)


5 Basics Budget Version: Texture and Color

On to interior designer Sara Gilbane's Basic No. 2: Texture and Color.

"For those who like a monotone color scheme it is very important to bring in texture to create depth. Go for your all-white room, but you must add texture - grasscloth on the walls, mohair, velvet, linen fabrics. . .

I am a sucker for wallpaper - I like using grasscloth in larger living spaces to bring in texture. Patterned wallpaper in unexpected small spots is great fun and gives your guests a surprise - such as in bathrooms, closets, backs of bookshelves. 

I am also a huge fan of lacquered walls. . . The ceiling is a space that usually goes forgotten in most homes. Whether you paint it a pale glossy grey or the same color as the walls - it adds instant drama. . . You can also throw wallpaper on the ceiling - a shimmery gold or silver patinaed wallpaper on a dining room ceiling works well with candlelight. A heavy grasscloth on your library ceiling or in between beams adds a modern coziness." 
Full post here

Texture and Color: From paint, rugs, fabric, wallcoverings to accessories - there are thousands of inexpensive ways to add life and depth to any room. A natural fiber rug is a wonderful neutral that instantly adds inviting texture. 
At Home Decorators Collection, you can find a banded 5' x 7'9" seagrass rug for $129.00!

You could easily paint the cotton binding a different color to coordinate with other elements in your room (though I like it just fine as is). Charlotte Moss, the ultimate New York stylemaker, recently debuted a sisal rug with a custom painted pattern for a New York showhouse.
A few more options from Home Decorators:

Kampur Coir Rug, for a rougher texture and more streamlined look.
$149 for 7' x 9'

Premium Braided Jute Area Rug
With knotted, loose ends - a bit more formal.
$249 for 7' x 9'  
Images from here.
Added bonus? The last two rugs are reversible, meaning twice the value. Another great source for rugs is West Elm. Even better if you can purchase the in-store sample for a discount or catch them on sale. Here are two favorites:
Diamond Jute Rug - this pattern can actually work as a neutral.
$229 for 8' x 10'

Zigzag Rug - Madeline Weinrib-inspired for a much better price.
Instantly, you have a modern element to the room.
$229 for 5' x 8'

Images from here.

Fabric. Check out the remnants section of your local fabric store (such as Joann Fabrics). I found enough yards of a quality, chocolate linen to make curtains - for $7/yd.* Additionally, you can find great patterns in surprising places - use this upbeat curtain fabric from Urban Outfitters to upholster a headboard, sew a coverlet or cover a pillow:

Climbing Blossom Curtain on sale for $19.99! 
52" wide in 63" or 84" lengths
Image from here.

Side note: If you aren't handy with a sewing machine, many drycleaners will make curtains, slipcovers, etc. for you with your own fabric.

Check out these fabric solutions from Ikea:
Coordinating Fialena fabrics for $6.99/yd each
And classic stripes for $7.99 yd 

Images from here.

A surprising source for wallpaper? Target.
Grasscloth! On sale for $40.49/roll

Mode Darcy Wallpaper on sale at $59.49/roll
A modern look for a downstairs bathroom or hallway without being overpowering.

Brewster Zinnia Wallpaper in Green on sale for $63.74
Soft and lovely.

Odyssey in Black on sale for $59.49
This is right up Kelly Wearstler's alley, paired with gold furniture pieces.

Images from here.
Wallpaper is a luxury, which is why making a statement in a small space is a great use for it - the closet, bathroom, a hallway (even just above a chair rail). I love seeing wallpaper in a home, you can immediately sense the personality of the homeowner.

And last but never least, there is always paint. By simply putting a color on the walls, trim or ceiling, you immediately dictate the mood of the room. It is hands-down the most affordable and simple way to add life to your space. Go for super high gloss on a chair or accent piece (table, lamp, stool, etc.) to mimic the expensive look of lacquer. You can always change it.

Now that is a deal.

*The damn curtains were an unfortunate failure. I got lazy, didn't measure twice in my haste and ruined them. The fabric was great and such a steal . . . before I touched it with scissors. Lesson learned.


And So It Begins

Friday evening, Stack'd Burger Bar:

Sample a beer named Abbey (on the left).

Which neither of us ever want to try again.

Followed by frickles (or fried pickle coins, as they called them).

Oh deliciousness.

Then the burgers. Jon and "The Hangover": Beef burger with fried onions, Nueske's bacon, cheddar cheese, a fried egg and served with a bottle of Tabasco. A side of mac n' cheese. Moi, "Don't Mess with Texas": Bison burger with pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, an onion ring and smothered in barbecue sauce, with a side of onion rings.

I decided to swap out the onion ring on the burger for some fried pickles I'd saved. They should probably just go ahead and make that change permanently on the menu.

Saturday morning, Macy's:

I purchase leggings.
With an elastic waistband.

These puppies are amazing. 



If floral design were taught in school, I would be in the special education class and require an additional private tutor with visual aids. The words "Are you creative at all?" and "Can you make your fingers into a circle?" might have been spoken to me yesterday.

Um, "Can I make my fingers into a circle?"

I have no words.

In the process of making two bouquets (for tomorrow's half-price, sale rack), the floral designer made six. I may have also been told, in a very kind Midwestern accent:
"Some people just don't get it."


Despite the fact that this was my first attempt at creating a free hand (just consider that for a moment), large bouquet - or any bouquet, period - apparently I should have been doing this with my eyes closed. While reciting the proper Latin names for each flower.
Grown in Wisconsin.
I blame the dang stems - every time I attempted to add a new flower into the mix, I loosened my grip, everything flopped over to one side or slid down into the "circle" and lost its placement. Back to ground zero. Again.

I felt like a kindergartner who arrived at school with her favorite box of Crayolas . . . only to discover everyone else was writing their autobiographies (yup, at age six).
In French.

I will dominate these flowers.

End of Week 1

De-thorned 200 long-stemmed roses. Have 5 battle scars on my hand as proof.
Cleaned and processed gladiolus.
Unpacked and priced boxes of assorted floral containers and wedding accessories.
Fully cleaned and restocked front cooler of loose flowers: lisianthus, daisies, iris, roses, spider mums, stock, asiatic lilies, snapdragons, sensie, baby's breath, sunflowers, Japanese aster, wax flowers, miniature calla lilies, Irish bells, alstroemeria, bupleurum.
Cleaned floral buckets. Hands are like old Italian woman's who washes clothing in salt and bleach solution.
Closed 10 sales.
Wrote out a card "To Mrs. Boo Boo, Love Mr. Boo Boo" with a stone cold face, as I am floral professional now.
Created a food basket for a college swimmer with a black and yellow theme. Hideous.
Bouquet tutorial. Oh boy.
Completed deposit form for store check and cash deposits.
Swept the floors of floral debris, a virtual green carpet across the entire back of the store.
Peaced out for the weekend.
Soaked hands in bucket of olive oil.


And . . . I didn't realize this until day 3.

It came to me today that my last name is Bloom.

And I work in a flower shop.



Sara Gilbane's 5 Basics: Budget Style

I thought I'd take Sara's suggestions for 5 basics and find some budget-friendly examples. Take one: Several Seating Areas

"In a small living space, that means 2 sofas - a couple can sit together on one or both stretch out on their own. In a larger living room I like to create several seating areas. A built-in banquette/window seat in the corner with a game table creates a nook for evening games, a larger gathering area with one or two sofas and a few chairs lends itself to great conversation over cocktails, while a chaise lounge or two is perfect for the person who is wanting their own space to read while others may be watching TV."

Here are my suggestions for two couches, which will ground any room and add symmetry (instantly making you look like had a design plan). Finding two new couches for around $1000 total is virtually impossible. BUT! On, a favorite of my friend Jessie's, I spied a find.

Photo from
Made of eco-friendly fabric and constructed of sustainable hardwood, this Metolious Limit Sofa in Cream will fit three people and is a traditional shape that won't go out of style. A user review remarked that the color is closer to a light khaki - even better!

Cost: $699.99 each.
Shipping: $2.95 (yes, you read that right)
Total (without tax): $1402.93

Add a soft throw over the center of the back of one and some appropriately-sized pillows*, and voila! Your living room will instantly have presence.

Of course, there is always Ikea (though you are paying less for lower quality materials). Check out these two sofas:

Karlstad Sofa (with Cover) at $399.00 each - a clean look that would work well in any apartment or home. Makes me think of the beach.

Knihult Sofa at $349.00 each - modern and masculine. To keep this piece from looking cheap, you'd need to be very particular about the pieces you surround it with. You may also consider staining or painting the legs.

Both photos from
In pairs, each of these sofas will center your room. And you can easily add a chair or two from Craigslist, a flea market or even the Salvation Army for more seating under $100! Paint or recover whatever you don't like about the piece (coordinate with, but don't duplicate exactly, the colors you use for throw pillows/blanket). This will also create a more lived-in, eclectic look, since the chairs won't match the couches. Repeat: don't match the chairs to the couches.

This is a very good thing, Martha.

P.S. So, why are quality couches so expensive? Most large retail chains don't use hardwood and quality fillers (such as down) when building their furniture, allowing them to lower their cost and charge you less. This means the pieces aren't made for long-term use and likely will lose their comfortability and look after extended wear (foam cushions lose their bouyancy). If you are investing in one piece of furniture, a good couch (made of kiln-dried hardwood, down/down blend cushions, 8-way tied coil springs, screw construction vs. stapling) is worth it - you'll keep it for 15 years. And Ikea will be a very distant memory at that point!

*I hate when throw pillows look too small or too large for a couch. It looks cheap. Boys, ask a girl for assistance with this shopping trip! This also ties into Basic 2: Texture and Color. More on that later.

I Have A Corn Problem

Ahem, the food kind.
I have been known to eat 3 - 4 cobs of fresh corn in the summer. In one sitting.

And my all-time, hands down favorite food is movie theater popcorn with butter (not the microwave or pot popcorn variety; those just aren't as tasty). No, I don't think that's weird. And no, I've never researched the calorie count nor the ingredient list for either of those foods. I also do not plan to.

Corn pudding, corn grits, you name it, if it has butter and corn, I am eating it and it's on the menu until Jon bans it. And then I might just make enough for me. 

Jon has a running joke, what with the proliferation of corn fields in Wisconsin and the general Midwest, that the doors must be locked and car speed increased whenever we drive past one.

I finally got in there at Barthel's apple orchard.

This was just before I realized the stalks had already been harvested.


Marie Callender's Going Down

Last night before we fell asleep:

Jon: Woah, nice dragon breath!

Moi: What?! I just flossed, brushed my teeth and used mouth wash. You can't be serious.

Jon: I can still smell it with my back to you. What is that?

Moi: . . . Garlic croutons.

Jon: Sick.

Moi: Turn back!

Jon: I can't. I have to look out for my interests.

Moi: And what are those?

Jon: Breathing.
_     _     _

The croutons are in the trash. I blame Marie Callender.


Florist: Day 1

Took the Dove Point of Sale system tutorial and closed 6 sales.
Swept floor of millions of stems and leaves.
Washed all buckets for flower delivery.
Unboxed, cleaned and reboxed returned glass cylinders from weekend wedding.
Stacked empty boxes in closet.
Cleaned tall fluted centerpieces for use tonight at 20s themed cocktail party for the American Managers Association. (A flower budget? Um, sweet office party.)
Folded small brown paper bags to hold Mum plant centerpieces for a women's garden party luncheon tomorrow.
Processed (cut, trimmed, cleaned) individual flowers: Japanese Aster, Snapdragons, Carnations, Asiatic and Stargazer Lilies, Spider Mums, Stock (yep, it's a flower), Burgundy Yarrow, Wax Flower and Decorative Kale.
Hand wiped pollen off the lily petals with a pipecleaner. They were like my sweet little children, that's how gentle I was.

And that, folks, was 8.5 hours. Work days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus pre-scheduled weekends for events. I am freaking loving that schedule.

Not loving the ache that has spread across my entire body from standing. All day. No sitting. Those Naot shoes are starting to sound real good.

Hee hee. Not yet.

But I will take a Leinie.

First Day!

At the florist shop! Work begins at 9.

Have no idea why I'm so nervous.

Wish me luck!


If you miss Domino magazine . . .

 . . . here's your substitute:

Love it!

(That's former Domino editor Kate Townsend on the cover!)


Numero Diez

This is certainly not a milestone I assumed I'd meet before I reached 30, but hey, you roll with the punches.

Starting Monday, when I begin work as a part-time florist (yay! got the job!), I will also be marking my 10th job since graduating college.


No, these are not all listed on my resume or I would never get hired.
Drumroll please!

1. Film Production Coordinator, Merchant Ivory movie "Heights,"starring Glenn Close (heck yes, my name's in the credits)
2. Publishing Intern, Abrams Books, Children and Young Adult divisions. Not much to say about this one - everyone who worked there seemed miserable.
3. Managing Editorial Assistant, Putnam Books, Penguin Putnam International - met James Frey (pre "Oprah" fiasco) who inscribed my copy of My Friend Leonard. Spied on L.L. Cool J as he met with editors about his health book. I may have had a crush on him. What?
4. PR Coordinator, Punch! Public Relations - fashion PR for women's clothing and accessories. I scored the company's first product placement in American Vogue and was rewarded with a leopard-print pony hair bag that I have to this day, and love.
5. "Writer" - this one's not a job-job as the novel isn't published (no moollah) and will remain unseen in my secret files, but I spent 18 months pursuing it. Ah, Palm Bitch. Hardest thing I have ever attempted.
And hope to attempt again.
6. Nanny to three adorable boys on the Upper West Side. Part-time side job to pay for health insurance while writing and a total pleasure. Loved the whole family.
7. Dogwalker - owner of my own "business," in fact. Happiest working time in my life, but uninspiring: I talked to dogs all day.
8. Event Coordinator, Van Wyck & Van Wyck. High-end boutique event design firm - totally inspiring and completely time-consuming for very little pay. Ran an African safari-inspired charity dinner for 500, as well as a party for an episode of "America's Next Top Model" at the famous Hearst building (cycle 10, episode 9). Also worked on a $3 million dollar wedding in the Florida Keys where golf carts were the only vehicles allowed and the band was Huey Lewis. Awe-some. Wedding expectations skyrocketed, to Jon's horror.
9. Program Manager, Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, Columbia Business School. Event-planning for business school students (including Jon, who may have allowed fellow classmates to believe he had met - during school - and was now engaged to "the chick at the Lang Center." We move fast). Holy bureaucracy politics! Learning experience from top to bottom about large corporations and people in general, including myself.
10. Florist, Belle Fiori. Future bouquet-maker for friends and family. A new skill for the books. Yes! 
10.1. Blogger. I feel like I just admitted to having a craft room filled with decoupaged ceramic cats. Perfect stocking stuffers! (I'm kidding. I don't. Not yet.)

I guess we're at 10.1.

Holy shitake and hello 30.

And It Was.

Email exchange earlier this week:

"If you happen to drive by CVS, we could use tooth paste, face soap, pomade (hair stuff). If not, I can go after work..."

"maybe we go together! as a trip!
we need kitchen garbage bags, toilet bowl gel cleaners, deodorant"

"It's a date!"
_ _ _ _
I don't think I need to add any more words to this one.


Thomasville? Yup, want.

Thomasville, who knew ye were so cool?

I discovered Darryl Carter's collection for Thomasville on another blog. Wow. Great pieces with truly nice details and what looks like (haven't seen them in person) perfect proportions. The furniture is out of my price range right now, but the pieces truly look much more expensive than they are (and are certainly cheaper than buying an authentic antique!).

A few faves . . .

Delicate, carved legs - love the cross hatch base and black and white color scheme.

Desk lamp. Also available in table lamp size. Masculine, but classic with a sheen.

With the seat in a modern, poppy fabric? Fabulous! I just love the graceful lines.

Great spindle legs. You could panel the doors with antiqued mirrors, too. 

Simple and rustic. Hides storage under the leather cushion.

I'll have to keep an eye out for future sales . . .
Photos from


I've gained 4.6 pounds.

I blame the cheesy casserole.


Saturday Night at The Rave

Rude. Uncle Kracker cancelled.

We arrived at The Rave and are told that Chevelle and Halestorm (?) are performing and our tickets are good for both. (The woman looked at us like we were insane when we said we were there for Uncle Kracker. Heck yes we purchased tickets for an Uncle Kracker concert! Okay, they were a gift from Jon's colleague, but we were still kind of pumped.)

What else do we have to do on a Saturday night? We stayed.

Awesome! 60% of attendees appear to be teenagers. Intoxicated teenagers. (We both had to get bracelets to buy beer and were informed we were not allowed to buy for minors.) Making out, storming off, and emerging from corners I didn't even know existed doing Lord I don't even want to know what. The Rave is an old building, really beautiful under a lot of grime and smoke, with a million nooks and crannies. Perfect for teenagers. We totally would have gone when we were 16.

There are two small wings off of the main, central stage. Both of these wing stages are featuring teenage hair bands. Nirvana plaid shirt and dirty jean wearing, long hair-whiplash-neck swinging, totally-unintelligible-screaming hair bands. (How do they do that in unison? Doesn't it hurt their necks? Call their mothers immediately! This has to be bad for their spines!) I couldn't understand one dang thing they sang about. Well, I did get one word - I heard someone say "boobies" once.

I wish I was making that up.

So Jon and I laughed (har har har) over our complete lack of understanding. And everyone assumed were were 40 and there to corral a soon-to-be-grounded teenager.

We decided to watch the main stage, currently in the middle of Halestorm's set. The fact that I did not understand more than 5 words the main singer (Lindsay Hale) said was unimportant. SHE WAS AWESOME. She had this Joan Jett vibe, was totally hot and had a ridiculous voice that she rocked out like Bon Scott of AC/DC. I mean, Jon and I were blown away. Whatever that 'it' thing is that people talk about, this girl was swimming in it.

At one point they even moved an extra drum set to the front of the stage and all played the drums at once (you probably had to be there, but it was cool). It was just a really good show. And I didn't even like the music. That's saying something.

Then our main act, Chevelle, came up. Everyone started screaming and throwing the longhorn up. Yeahhh! The bass music started, my heart began to palpitate, the lead singer commenced screaming and Jon and I, terrified, ran right out of the Rave and home to bed.

At 11:30 PM.

Our future children are mortified.


Introducing 5 Basics! with Interior Designer Sara Gilbane

5 Basics

I'm so excited about today's post! 5 Basics will be a series of posts featuring people whose work I admire, starting with the wonderfully talented interior designer, Sara Gilbane!

Photo by Anna Wolf

Sara says, "I like to design comfortable, livable spaces for my clients. Whether it is for a party for 30 in their living room or just the two of them having cocktails and hanging out, the space should work for them.

These [below] are essentials to any living space I design."

5 Basics

1Basic: Several Seating Areas.
"In a small living space, that means 2 sofas - a couple can sit together on one or both stretch out on their own. In a larger living room I like to create several seating areas. A built-in banquette/window seat in the corner with a game table creates a nook for evening games, a larger gathering area with one or two sofas and a few chairs lends itself to great conversation over cocktails, while a chaise lounge or two is perfect for the person who is wanting their own space to read while others may be watching TV."

2Basic: Texture and Color.
"For those who like a monotone color scheme it is very important to bring in texture to create depth. Go for your all-white room, but you must add texture - grasscloth on the walls, mohair, velvet, linen fabrics. With a monotone scheme most people think that means the same color over and over, but what makes a monotone scheme come to life is mixing varying shades of that color - such as ivory, cream, snow, pale tan. If you must have silk drapes in your dining room, throw a burlap tablecloth on a table to add a rough, unexpected texture. This makes a space feel more inviting and less serious.

YUM! I am a sucker for wallpaper - I like using grasscloth in larger living spaces to bring in texture. Patterned wallpaper in unexpected small spots is great fun and gives your guests a surprise - such as in bathrooms, closets, backs of bookshelves.

I am also a huge fan of lacquered walls. In dining rooms, dens, entry foyers - a high gloss wall in a deep jewel tone color is amazing at night. Bring in candles, chandeliers and table lamps and the room just glows. Paint your ceilings! Do not leave them white! The ceiling is a space that usually goes forgotten in most homes. Whether you paint it a pale glossy grey or the same color as the walls - it adds instant drama. A pale lacquered grey ceiling seems to float like clouds, and a ceiling painted in the same color as the walls makes a room very cozy. You can also throw wallpaper on the ceiling - a shimmery gold or silver patinaed wallpaper on a dining room ceiling works well with candlelight. A heavy grasscloth on your library ceiling or in between beams adds a modern coziness."
3Basic: Lighting.
"It is so important to have lighting at various levels in a room. By that I mean a chandelier or overhead lighting, table lamps, sconces on the bookshelves and a few standing lamps. This allows light to hit all objects (your face included) in the most flattering way. Add dimmers to all chandeliers and sconces. Mood lighting anyone? At night, bring out the candles - the more the better. Everyone looks better with a soft glow."

4Basic: Mix the Old with the New.
"We all have a few pieces of furniture that have been inherited from a grandparent or flea market. Just because you want a youthful modern home does not mean every piece of furniture should be brand new. Keeping something old and reupholstering it (that old ratty wing chair can be spruced up in no time with a bold modern fabric) gives the room an unexpected twist and you get to keep an heirloom in the family."

5Basic: Great Linens.
"I am a total linen freak so I obsess daily over the bed, table, and bathroom linens. Right now I am in love with those by Sharyn Blond."

And just because I must . . .
"I am crushing on a Cameroon cocktail table, malachite bedside tables, a very large photo of Marilyn Monroe swimming in the green lagoon in Capri (such a happy photo), a Chinoiserie pagoda-style bed - off the charts, and a real turquoise chandelier."


Where Sara Gilbane gets her basics:

Favorite Design Book: Jeffrey Bilhuber Defining Luxury. I am a girl who loves color- his book is outstanding.

Favorite Furniture Source: Oly studios, Treillage, 1st Dibs and any antique store.

Favorite Fabric/Wallpaper Source: John Rosselli, who carries lines like Carolina Irving, Peter Dunham, John Robshaw, Robert Kime, Elizabeth Eakins. I cannot pick a favorite. Quadrille is a very, very close second. And Phillip Jeffries for grasscloth - they have every imaginable variation.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and what would it look like?
I have too many fantasies about this, but I must say I love New York. Every time I leave my building I am surrounded by inspiration. My dream would be an old townhouse in my neighborhood that I could renovate with a large garden for entertaining. It is not so much what is in your space, but the way it makes you feel.

What is the most important design rule to remember when decorating?
SCALE. This is what most people get wrong and it is so important to the overall feel of the room. And accessories - it is not the first $1,000 that makes the room - it is the last $1,000. Accessories can dramatically change a space. They make a space feel lived-in and loved - do not skimp on them. A room with no accessories is like a woman who forgot to put on her jewelry.

Accessorized like a pro.

Time for me to take these tips to the living room. Thank you so much, Sara!


Apple Success

We made it to Barthel's Farm just before the rain clouds. After Apple Holler, I was prepared to apple pick in a hail storm as long as it meant no. toddlers.

Confirmation we were meant to pick here:

Yes, Jonathon is a type of apple. Also possibly a sign from Wisconsin to the Thompsons? Hmm . . .

This photo was asking to be taken.

 Honey Crisp apple trees. And Jon.

Red Delicious apples, looking like pomegranates. 


View of the cornfields surrounding the orchard.

Apples on Saturday.

Apples, meet Monday:

Lemons were for the sliced sugary apples, to keep from browning.

Before . . .


Ta da! Jon ate two pieces for lunch.

That's an 'M' for Mili-wau-kay