Can I show you some of my favorite photos from a recent weekend in Charleston AND give you a tip on how to find out if the products you use get tested on animals? Read on!
Today's post is just a bit of a ramble. Don't you think we should all sit down with a cup of coffee, put up our feet and ramble every now and then? Today's my day.
I wish I was one of those designers with endless energy who can seemingly run a business AND write interesting blog posts featuring pretty pictures of world travels, incredible rooms and adorable children in riding habits. However:
A) I am not
B) I strongly suspect they're not either, but it's not my job to call out the huge amount of smoke and mirrors it must take to pull that off.
I'm a working woman with an average amount of energy. Smoke and mirrors are nowhere to be found. My house is charming and we love it, but it's not Pinterest worthy, if you know what I mean. Housework and I don't pal around a whole lot, but most rooms have some semblance of order going on. The usual exception is the kitchen island. It's always covered with mail, lists and stuff that appears out of nowhere. And recently our sweet dog, Raven, has decided that the couch is quite comfy, so that's a new place to find large amounts of dog hair. But we're working on the island and shooing Raven off the couch.
About the blog: I like writing, but it takes way more time than I usually have. If you're reading this, you should follow my Instagram account--I LOVE taking pictures with my iPhone and it's fun to put them on Instagram because it's super easy. I generally take photos of things or moments that give me a quick dose of joy and of course I want to share that joy, hence the current love of the Insta.
About the pretty pictures: as I know I've mentioned before, my darling hub and I are raising our grandson. Grandboy is 12, almost 13. He's a super kid and we love him madly, but it's a tough age, reeking with hormones. Our days are filled with activities and eye rolls, snarky comments, deep sighs and being told that we are annoying or embarrassing him. Sigh. Yeah, the deep sighs are coming from me. Moments of joy sustain me. They sustain every mom--and every grandmother. Those pretty pictures are reminders of the beauty that's all around us.
Slow mornings, flowers, pets and fairy lights on timers in my china cabinet give me long moments of joy. I hope you have special things in your home that do the same for you.
Here's the promised easy recipe for a wonderful winter meal. We'll call it "Mom's Lamb Recipe" because my mom made it and I have no idea what she called it.
The ingredients are as follows:
Lamb - bone in. Mom used to make this with lamb neck pieces, I think. They were usually a cheap cut in the grocery store. I happened upon a sale price for lamb chops, so used those. Lamb is an easy meat to cook with.
Carrots (a regular size bag, cleaned)
Potatoes (I used 4 medium ones, peeled)
Green peppers (1 1/2 or 2, cleaned and seeded)
Onions ( 1 1/2 or 2, peeled)
1 14-16 oz. can Hunts tomato sauce
Garlic (I use up to a tablespoon of the prechopped garlic)
Salt and pepper (you decide how much you like)
Bay leaf if you want (my mom always used bay leaves, what they add is a mystery to me)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut everything up, including the lamb, into big chunks and spread out in a large pan. I'm not sure if a cookie sheet would work. I always use a broiler pan or a big roasting pan. Sprinkle some garlic (not a lot), salt and pepper.
Pour that can of tomato sauce over all. Give it a big stir. Put in preheated oven. Cook for 2 hours, stirring one more time after an hour. Your house is going to smell SO good! Yes, it cooks for 2 hours. You can throw this together any day if you work from home. Otherwise it's a weekend dish. Would make a fabulous, old fashioned Sunday dinner and takes MUCH less effort than roasting a chicken with all the accoutrements. Everything is in this pan.
Two hours later, take it out and serve. You can add a salad or bread if you want. It's so so good. The tomato sauce cooks into everything.
Thanks for letting me ramble. Enjoy your day!
Investing in a design consultation during new construction provides ideas that can make a big difference to the end result. I want to show you a couple of pics I took last week of a new construction project I consulted on. The homeowners, John and Diane, were wonderful to work with and the builder, John Dunning of Dunning Custom Homes, did a spectacular job. When Diane invited me to come see the finished results, I was happy to accept!
I've been crushing on stainless cable wire for a long time now, but it still gives me a thrill. When I mentioned this idea to John and Diane, they jumped right on it. Diane said waiting for it to be installed was like waiting for Christmas morning!
Another idea they ran with was to paint the barn door leading to the pantry a true red. This is Sherwin's Heritage Red, which is gorgeous, gorgeous. Most of the other doors in the house are hickory with a protective coat of polyurethane. The door to the garage, as you ca see, is white. I LOVE it when doors DON'T match! And look at that hickory floor. Again, just a clear coat of poly. Amazing.
Here's a better view of a hickory door in the house.
We talked a lot about using beams in the house. Final decisions can't be made until sheet rock goes up and everyone can really see the room taking shape. These are in the Kitchen and look great!
John and Diane are big fans of wood. They put this yummy walnut on the island counter. Love it, love it, love it.
The light was really mucking around with my trusty iPhone camera, the art isn't up over the mantel yet and decorating isn't complete, but I wanted to show you that built in shelving doesn't have to symmetrically flank the fireplace. My suggestion was to have the cabinetry and shelving on one side to display and store what they wanted, but to leave the other side open to create a cozy nook to curl up with a book. It's going to be a sweet spot in a beautiful room. I also convinced them to skip putting a soffit at the top of each niche. Bring the eye up!
I take no credit for this brilliant bit of great design in the Kitchen. It's built under the stairs and is out of the way from everything else in the room. Microwave, wine fridge, glassware, etc. - you can be pouring wine, heating things up, pulling out tableware, napkins, small plates, etc. and still be completely out of the way of the master chef. Like I said, brilliant!
That's soapstone on the counters. Lovely handcrafted shelving with puck lights make everything sparkle. A Wolf cooktop looks right at home in the center of it all!
The house, upstairs and down, is filled with great ideas, successfully executed. It's a wonderful example of attention to detail, creative thinking and pride in workmanship.
Meet Sheila Rennart of Quick Bookkeeping, Inc., (click on her business name back there to get the link) here in Raleigh. Of course I've been keeping my accounts straight throughout the years, but it has taken a LOT of time to do that--because knowing how to add, subtract, multiply and divide isn't the same as accounting. If you're running a business, this is another one of those things you need to hand over to an expert. Sheila LOVES accounting (thank you, God, for making all kinds of people)! AND she taught Karen and I how to use the accounting software. She is our hero.
Do you think you can't afford a bookkeeper? The truth is that you can't afford not to hire a bookeeper. She saves you money. Go figure. I won't share Karen (my Business Manager, talked about here), but I can share Sheila!
If you have a busy, hectic, slightly chaotic office environment, I have a cure for you:
Hire Karen. No, wait, that's not what I mean! Hire a person like Karen. You can't have Karen, she's the new Business Manager at DeCocco Design! She appears to LIKE running a business--I've heard about people like that. My office has become an oasis of calm. I'm not sure I remembered what color the top of my desk was and now it's clear and orderly. Records and resources are where they should be. There are processes and forms, invoices and reports.
I can focus on interior design. Thank you God, for Karen!
Do you have old house dreams like I do? When you pass one in the car, do you slow down a bit to take in a detail or two? I recently played hooky with my friend (and fellow designer), Christine. We headed to a tiny NC town that has a lovely Main Street. It's lined on both sides with beautiful old houses.
I was going to do a little research to identify the style of every house for you, but it's December and I just don't have the time. Maybe I'll come back to this in January (don't hold your breath). For now, just feast your eyes and get ready--tonight you might have Old House Dreams.
This street is a treat, isn't it? I've got more photos, but it's time to read to Grandboy (we're working on Roald Dahl's "The Wonderful World Of Henry Sugar"), so I'll stop here.
I hope your December is a merry one and that you have Old House Dreams!