Friday, May 31, 2013

Pretty Little Fridays... The Classic Blue Ball Jar at My House

I looooove Springtime!!!  One of my favorite things to do is to bring in things from my yard and put flower arrangements around my house.  (Yeah, I know it's 2013, but I still love it.)  I like things to look simple & relaxed so one of my staples has always been the classic Ball jar.  Whenever I see them for a great price at a thrift store or flea  market, I pick them up.  

{Chive blooms from my mom...  I love them in the bright blue jar in my bathroom which I can't WAIT to show you more pics of!!}

I was contacted recently by someone from the Ball Jar brand about their just released 100th Anniversary "heritage" collection jars...  and was thrilled when they offered to send me a set of 6 to blog about!!!  (You can find them from different sources online, but here's one I found: BALL JARS}

As you can see from these pics, the Heritage Collection Ball Jars are a bit more intense of a blue than the older jars, which I love!!!  They're really vibrant & cheerful looking.  

{Surprise Sunflowers from my guys}

I've been using them all over the house and the boys have even been drinking out of them.  Although I appreciate a good craft or an extremely-effortful-pretty-something, (my brain is tired and I can't think of the real word for that, so let's pretend effortful's a word. ;)  I rarely do that kind of thing...  BUT... after perusing the Ball jar pinterest page, I got a little inspired and tried a little something fun with the Ball jars for a Friday afternoon happy hour at the office:

(Ciders!  And if you hang out with me, you know these are Woodchucks ;) ;)

We've got lots to be thankful for so we are celebrating!!  Have a great weekend!!

And if you need some real Ball jar eye candy, check out their pinterest page here.

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Twin Blog of Easy Fashion

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L'Effort Moderne is the twin blog of Easy Fashion Paris. Twin blog for a different point of view on Fashion. Don't forget to chek "Here" and please leave a message.

L'Effort Moderne est le blog associé à Easy Fashion Paris. Il présente un point de vue différent sur l'univers de la Mode et du StreetStyle. N'oubliez pas d'aller y faire un tour et merci de laisser un message "Ici".

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Online map competition intensifies

There was a time that Google and its Map API was the only talk in town. Their revolutionary approach to serving spatial data online has broken the monopoly of specialist GIS companies on all things spatial. Many followed in Google footsteps with similar, simplified online products but were mostly overshadowed by the first mover in the field. For a moment it seemed that nothing else matters and that Google will dominate the market indefinitely. However, introduction of fees for high usage of Google Map API led to a big backlash against the company as many developers realised the vulnerability of their business to caprices of a key partner. Suddenly alternatives started to look very attractive - despite the limited functionality offered. And the competition in the online map market started to intensify again...

Acquisition of Waze by Facebook for a reported $1B is the flavour of the month (although not done deal yet). It demonstrates that the appetite of large companies for ready-made online mapping technologies is growing. Apple has its fingers firmly in the pie beefing up reliability of its offering (after a very unfortunate start) and optimising performance with vector graphics far beyond Google Map capabilities. Microsoft is surprisingly quiet…

The key enabler for “lower end” alternatives to Google Map was, and still is, Open Street Map project which provided developers with roads dataset all over the world (traditionally, the cost of using that data was so restrictive that only those with very deep pockets could attempt to do it on a world scale). CloudMade and MapQuest offered free access to their versions of OSM data and started building a variety of free services, enabling replicating key functionality of Google Map, such as geocoding or navigation. ESRI has also thrown in their support releasing free map layers and their GeoCommons platform (although I am not sure if the current licensing restrictions still allow unconstrained use of that data).

There are many viable alternatives to Google Map and, as a developer or end user, you are no longer forced to accept strict conditions imposed by Google. By switching to any of those alternatives you will have much more flexibility in developing services and applications and will take back control of your business. And you don’t have to compromise on functionality, at least not too much… My favourite amongst free alternatives is Leafletjs (originally developed by CloudMade). It is easily extendible with free services from MapQuest. If you are after a 3D kind, Cesium from Analytical Graphics, Inc looks very promising - supports also 2D mapping but unfortunately, it works only in WebGL enabled browsers (by the way, NICTA built on this platform a very impressive range of spatial applications which demonstrate its full potential).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dining Room Before & After

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I love before & afters.  (And if you're new to it, I love before & afters.)  There's something so satisfying about them with their instant gratification.  You get to see the meh "before" and then scroll down a little and the room is finished.  



In my mind when I'm planning rooms, one way I look at them is by thinking about each wall and each view or "elevation."  I think about how it will look from the camera's eye.  When I'm finishing up a room or accessorizing it, I often take photos myself of rooms to make sure I'm happy with how the space is looking.  The camera helps me be more objective & more critical.  

The dining room I'm sharing pictures of today was the type of room that I can see with pretty much crystal clarity in my mindseye as I'm creating the plan.  It was easy for me to envision because it was a fairly square room and had an important focal wall that is seen right when you walk into the house.  I worked with my clients throughout the first floor of their home (It was their family room I showed above, and you can view the full family room here) but the dining room was actually the first room we did, because it was empty. My client wanted a relaxed yet elegant dining room that made her go "ahhh." (And that's a sigh, not a yell ;)  Like I mentioned in my previous post about this client, she & her family love to spend time on the water and she loves nature.  

We started with this blank slate:

And ended up with this:

I was so excited about this plan when I presented it to my client.  I typically work with my clients throughout almost their entire homes so the first presentation meeting for the first room or set of rooms is really important in setting the tone for the home  and for determining how we're going to work together.  As much as I love designing a home in its entirety, I also love for clients to get the chance to experience a room entirely through from conception to completion because after that, the trust between us is incredibly strong as we go through the rest of the home.  Decorating a house can be worrisome for lots of people and so having this trust is key.

When I started working on the plans for this room, I knew I wanted to do a painted blue sideboard and a wood-topped table.  I love a mix of painted and wood furnishings in a room and thought blue would be perfect for my client's coastal leanings.  All of my client's inspiration rooms seemed to have slipcovered parsons chairs so we decided to go with those and I had them made with simple linen slips that didn't reach the floor, to keep things casual.  I thought adding a casual striped dhurrie would bring the formality down another notch and relax everything a bit.   The branch chandelier was one of the most important elements in the room to me & when I presented it to my client (at our first presentation meeting) I really wasn't sure that she would go for it.  (I'll be honest, most clients wouldn't go for it.)  I think I probably hugged her when she said "yes" to it like it was really no big deal.  (Thanks Colleen!!! :)

{Custom Side board & Windsor Chairs by Furniture from the Barn

For the artwork, we found these big black herb prints to go above the blue sideboard that would really create a dramatic focal point.  We've used black accents throughout the room and I liked the idea of doing a big jolt of black in the middle of the room.  We flanked the artwork with some gorgeous sconces by Julie Neil.  We had curtains made in my "Live Paisley" in a custom brown colorway to bring a little bit more organic movement into the room.  

 And, although it doesn't look like it, we did repaint this room.  The color we chose (my favorite go-to ivory, Benjamin Moore's "seashell" just had the slightest bit of glow to it that the original paint was missing.  It's something that doesn't necessarily show in photos, but when you get the right light neutral up on a wall, it makes a room sing.  It was that trust I mentioned that really made this project so special and such a pleasure to work on.  The Bamboo Windsor Chairs initially made my client a bit nervous because she thought they might feel a bit too traditional, and so we held off on them. Once the room was installed without them though, my client was ready for them.  They're one of my favorite elements in the room and that little addition of warm wood was just what it needed.

I'm off for an installation in DC, but hope you enjoyed!! I'll be sharing our clients' foyer soon too. And thank you, especially, to my client, for being so open-minded about everything.  (She's the one who is an artist and doesn't know it yet.  See here.  She's said she's open to doing more paintings, so if you're interested, send me an email.)  Have a great day!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

*All after photos taken by my insanely talented friend, Helen Norman

Monday, May 27, 2013

Zoe - Rue du Fg St-Martin - Paris

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      Zoe - Rue du Fg St-Martin - Paris

      J'ai photographié Zoe plusieurs fois (voir en bas). La petite étudiante chinoise toute timide a terminé
      son école de mode à Paris et elle envisage aujourd'hui de retourner s'installer dans l'empire du
      milieu pour mettre en pratique ce qu'elle a appris en France. Je crois que c'est elle qui a réalisé ce
      haut noir cousu de cristaux style Swarowski sur la base d'un vêtement ACNE. Sa casquette est de
      chez Kenzo.

      Photos by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris

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Elena - place de la Concorde - Paris

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      Elena - place de la Concorde - Paris

      Lors de la dernière Fashion Week parisienne, Elena Perminova portait cette tenue pied de poule
      avec le sac assorti. Une tenue qu'elle pourrait encore porter aujourd'hui tellement le printemps n'en
      fini pas d'être en retard cette année.

      Photo by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris

Bich Van - les Tuileries - Paris

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      Bich Van - les Tuileries - Paris

      J'ai rencontré La jolie Bich Van dans le jardin des Tuileries. Son prénom est originaire du
      Vietnam, un pays très cher à mon coeur. Ce jour-là elle portait une chemise en jean Zara, un
      pantalon Mango et des chaussures Kurt Geiger. Son sac est vintage et ses lunettes sont de la
      marque Komono. Bich Van  anime le site "MyStyleInfluencer" (lien) et collabore au Magazine
      ELLE Vietnam (lien).

      Photo by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris

Friday, May 24, 2013

more FAQs

Yay for Friday!!  I've got another round of most frequently asked questions for you...  Like I mentioned before, I'm really not able to keep up with emails & questions these days, (due to work, family & life in general)  so I'll be doing FAQ Roundups to hopefully answer as much as I can. I appreciate your patience!! Thank you!!

Here we go: 

Q: Hello. Love your table. Can you share how the lucite holds up to scratches. if it scratches can they be removed? Special cleaner needed etc? 

A: My lucite table has gotten a beat-down at our house.  Our boys have scratched it to death with toys and it looks pretty terrible after three or four years of abuse.  I have to admit, after I saw that it was getting so badly scratched, I sort of gave up and figured that we'd replace it later.  I keep magazines or a tray and books on the coffee table anyway so it's mostly hidden.  I've also watched my kids fall on it more than once without crying, which is what's kept it in the house for so long.  They also love playing under it and around it because of the clearness.  (Nothing's funnier than watching a newly crawling baby ram his face into it ;) ;)  However, I recently purchased a lucite buffer/ polishing kit (by Novus) and one of these days am going to give it a try.  I'll definitely post to let you know how it goes.  Lucite should be cleaned with a super-soft cloth (never paper towels) and hot soapy water.  Don't ever use a cleaning product like Windex or anything else in a spray bottle that isn't specifically for lucite.  

{Our client's custom porch swing}

Q:  Where did you get the porch swing?

A: We had our client's custom porch swing made by Vintage Porch Swings , who did a beautiful job.

Q: I JUST read your post about not having time to answer all questions, so I get that you might not get to this and no hard feelings! Anyway, I've admired this room for awhile. I'm looking for the right paint color for my room and I'm struggling. I want a cream or white, and then noticed the curtains in this room. Are those the Pottery Barn Velvet in Ivory?

A:  Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you!  The walls in this room are seashell by Benjamin Moore and the curtain panels are custom and made of oyster-colored linen.  

{Our kitchen, when the island was still in-progress}

Q: What type of floors do you have in your home?

A: We used unfinished random width (4"-8") wide plank white oak and had it finished with  gray Woca oil.  We got our floors from Mountain Lumber Co. (specifically, Janel Conforti) who couldn't have been more helpful.  Woca Oil "contains primarily cold pressed vegetable oils and aromatic hardening oils that penetrate into the surface of the wood floor and, as they cure, harden to form a very protective surface that becomes part of the wood floor. This means that normal wear and tear, such as small scratches and indentations, do not show up as much as on a floor with a urethane finish.  The oil finish will also let the wood floor breathe through its surface.." (taken from their website)  I loooove the finish on our floors as it's matte and very natural-looking.  Oils do leave marks on the the floor and it's already started to develop a patina, which is what we're after.  

Anyway, I'm off for the day & have amazing Memorial Day weekend!!!  To check out my last round of FAQs, (including questions about my wall mural on my dining room wall) go here.


If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Garden Progress

Our kitchen garden isn't quite finished, but I couldn't resist sharing a few progress pics with you!!  Like I mentioned in my last post about the garden, I'm working with a good childhood friend of mine Danylo Kosovych, who owns Organic Edible Gardens in Arlingon, Virginia, and specializes in creating edible landscaping.

I wanted a space with lots of paths and separate beds so we could really enjoy being in the space and walking through it.  And here's how it's looking so far:

Next week, Danylo will be adding more black compost to the tops of the beds for a more finished look (and because it's good for the plants too ;)  and they'll be cutting all of the bamboo poles (which are for tomatoes) to the same height.

Here's a view of the whole garden and you can see I haven't moved in my second pot yet as I'm debating what to actually put in the pots in the centers of the paths.

The one pot pictured here holds my hydrangea but it needs to go back to my patio so I'll either get more of these or do fruit trees if possible.  (I'd love to do lemons but I'm really terrible with keeping things alive indoors throughout the winter so I'd rather something that can stay out in the winter...  I did see some pretty appletrees yesterday but don't know if they'll outgrow their pots too quickly... guess I should talk to my garden designer ;) ;)

(Ashby girl enjoys a morning jaunt  ;) ;)

I added delphinium yesterday throughout the gardens because I had to get my flower fix and am impatiently awaiting for my veggies to get tall!!  The beds are edged in boxwood (which of course need to grow in) and I've put a bunch of boxwood basil between them to fill them out a bit for this season.  

I'll go over everything that's in there when I can get some better pics next week but I hope you enjoyed this little peek!!  Have a great day!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to think about the future

Nesta has just released a video (below) of the event I did in London a few weeks ago with Nate Silver and others. It's a short discussion (5 minutes from each) on prediction and forecasting, followed by 45 minutes of (good) questions from the audience. My wife's opinion is that I spoke well but radiated unnecessary waves of negativity over the audience by emphasizing the limitations of prediction and the dangers that follow from believing you can predict when in fact you cannot. Maybe so! But sometimes I do like to be cautious...


BSMC Event at the Shorditch Studios 2013

Myself at the BSMC Event courtesy of

The BSMC held their inaugural bike show at the Shorditch Studios over the weekend, this is an event that I'd been looking forward to for a while and it certainly was a blinder of a show. Over 2000 people visited on the Saturday alone giving the event an incredible feel with a constant buzz of people and of course bikes coming and going. The main hub of the show showcased a great range of custom bikes from various builders including Deus Customs, Barons Speed Shop and Old Empire Motorcycles. Along side the bikes was a great range of artwork adorning the walls from the likes of Ornamental Conifer, Corpses from Hell, Death Spray Custom and Sam Christmas. Last but not least Sidburn Magazine were in attendance flaunting their wares for all to buy. The show was a great amalgamation of all aspects of the current custom scene, not just the bikes. 

I attended of course with my trusty sketchbook and pen.....

Yamaha Bobber

(ink sketch)

This was sketched on the Saturday of the show when Imperial Customs were in attendance. This bike was definitely a ridden example with all the signs of the rider adding and changing elements as time has past. For me this makes a more organic machine where the bike and rider reflect each other... perfect.

Deus Grievous Angel

 (ink sketch)

Deus Customs were in attendance via their UK connection Black Closet. Their bike of choice for the show was their Grievous Angel a custom based on a Yamaha SR400. I love how clean this bike looks, it's not intentionally attention seeking but it has such a minimal feel it certainly makes you look twice.

Old Empire Motorcycles, Vulcan

 (ink sketch)

I've been wanting to sketch an OEM bike for a while now and seeing that I was on a run with the Jap customs this was just the ticket to finish off my weekends sketching. This was the Vulcans first outing and it looked great. I loved the compact solid nature of the build, hence cropping my sketch down to the heart of the bike. The button seat is a work of art too.


Based on a 2008 Royal Enfield Electra the Pup brings the motorcycle back to the simpler days of motorcycling whilst utilising some more modern components without making it too complicated.

Here's some more shots from the weekend, the bike park at the show was a constant carousel of various machines as riders came and went...

The Guzzi's were in strong attendance on the Saturday

I fell in love with this Sunbeam twin

BMWs seemed to be a popular choice both in the main show and the bike park.

Kevils BMW R100/7 "BMonda"

Great Early BSA Single

I was hoping to have time to sketch this 750 four but time was not on my side.

Harley JAP Hybrid
Using a new JAP engine.

Last but not least Death Spray Custom's GSXR 1100 with She One tag.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday to Lou!

One year ago today, this little guy arrived:

He's one of the loves of my life and is just such a happy kid.

This is really what it's all about for me.  (yes, sleeping too ;) ;)

I love my wild little thing!!

Happy Birthday to Luke (Louie/ Lou/ Lulu) 
We love  you.

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.