Saturday, July 30, 2011

Signs of life ...

Another pearl of wisdom!

Mood board as decor?

An affinity for collage has started me thinking about using mood boards as actual design elements. Sure, these boards are meant to explore ideas and inspiration for designing everything from events and venues to fashions and products, but my eye tells me that we could consider the resulting board as art itself.


I'm crazy about the way these boards contribute to the overall look of each room above. Take away the beautifully framed mood boards and their contents, and you take away the artistic layering of color and texture in the space. Images via Designer Digs (left) and Country Living (right).

If you watch programming on the HGTV network, you are probably familiar with Emily Henderson, a past winner of Design Star and now host of her own series, Secrets from a Stylist. Above is a photo of her own space with requiste mood board. Both the room and the board share a casual, modern style.

Okay, so they didn't want a formal board. But, did they have to pin their inspiration to the elegantly papered wall behind the desk? Seems nutty to me, but it works rather beautifully, don't you think? Image via Velvet Palette (left).

Above, jewelry designer Clair Green strung little wire lines across her papered grasscloth wall and attached her clippings via mini-clothespins.

Art imitating art. Interesting.

What's blooming: not much

Between the temperatures hovering around 100 degrees for more than 30 days and one of the worst droughts on record, there's not much blooming in our gardens. But, our Moss Rose seems to find joy even under these intolerable conditions. It is the only potted plant that continues to blossom at our pergola.

Moss Rose (portulaca grandiflora)

The Moss Rose loves an environment that is hot and dry. Welcome to Texas my little lovelies! With their succulent leaves and brightly-hued flowers, these babies are a perfect match for our climate. Mine freeze back each winter in a pot they share with other bloomers, but with the arrival of summer these roses take center stage.

When moss rose gets too long and lanky (they can spread up to two feet), just pinch them back and stick the cut stem back in the soil to root. Like every flowering plant in my garden, I deadhead spent blooms to keep the energy flowing into new growth.

While the weather has diminished the beauty in most area landscapes, some truly dedicated gardeners have created amazing hanging baskets to add lush greenery. The patio at Scenic Loop Cafe is a perfect example of container gardening that I would love to emulate.


Everything from begonias and caladium to ferns and ivy adorn the hanging baskets on the cafe patio. Beautiful!

Dressing the summer table ...

Keep it cool, keep it casual. That motto applies to my summer wardrobe as well as my entertaining style. So, when it's time to dress my table for summer entertaining, tablesettings are always relaxed and fun.

You can't go wrong with fruit! It's the best of summer's bounty, ever so colorful and an inexpensive way to decorate the table. Above images via Bury Something Precious (left) and Hip Hostess (right).

Making lemonade from lemons is just part of the refresing fun at this summer table from HGTV. In addition to the iced drinks, lemons grace the table and contribute to the striking blue and yellow color scheme. Check out the mini-bottles of champagne with drinking straws ... love it!

The yellow, geometric patterned runner adds lots of pizazz to the tablesetting above from Matchbook. I also like the simple moss balls that are super easy to make and have year-round appeal as centerpieces.


Colorful tablescapes and clever design can take so many forms. I love to let my imagination take shape with a variety of dishware, linens and decorative elements like those above. Images via Delish (left) and Home Goods (right).

When you live in a warm hot climate like ours, sometimes there is no better color palette than white to cool things down a bit. I really like the white with accents of green. It's crisp, cool and sings of southern hospitality. Image via Good Housekeeping.

Peanut Butter Cups ...

You have to try this recipe for Peanut Butter Cups from Matchbook magazine. All I can say is, "Yum" and "Am I drooling?"



10 graham cracker squares (5 whole crackers)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted
1/4 cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener
1 cup grain-sweetened, non-dairy chocolate or carob chips
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds or peanuts)

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

Break the graham crackers into large chunks and place in a food processor or blender. Pulse on and off until they are ground to fine crumbs. Measure out 3/4 cup of crumbs (reserve the rest for another use) and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and maple sugar. Mix well. Remove the mixture from the heat. Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.

Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan. Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted. Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Top with chopped nuts. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes 12.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New directions ...

It's official. My one year sabbatical has come to a close. If you ever want to totally de-stress and refocus, I highly recommend taking a year all for yourself. This time has given me the opportunity to step away from my job and kick back mentally and physically, allowed me to appreciate and participate in nature's bounty and provided the time needed to explore my passions. As a result, I am embarking on a new career!

I'm shuttering my communications firm to pursue a dream I've had for over 30 years. I've always wanted to follow in my grandfather's footsteps, and now I'm making that dream a reality.

My grandfather (second from left above) started the first soap manufacturing company in San Antonio along with his brother and brother-in-law. Using my grandfather's soap recipes, the company made soaps for home and industrial use. You can still make out the Acme Soap Co. stamp at the bottom of the 1952 photo above.

While no one in my family is at the company today (last family member involved sold the business in the mid-1980s), I think my grandfather must be smiling down from above knowing that I've decided to make soap my business, too.

My husband and I have started a new business venture, Capistrano Soap Company. Named after the Spanish Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Antonio (where my grandparents first joined the local community upon moving to the city), the name 'Capistrano' honors both the history of my family and our city's heritage. Our company will be manufacturing bath and body products with all natural ingredients.

I had great fun designing our new company's logo, represented by the 'swallow' that returns again and again to Capistrano (as we hope our customers will, too!) I hope all the years I spent designing graphics, developing marketing and advertising campaigns, planning and managing events for my clients will be of great benefit to our new venture. Finally! I'll be able to use my skill sets to grow our own business.

We anticipate our products will be sold by retail merchants as well as online via our website shopping cart. As soon as our site is up and running, I'll let you know. That's one more item on my creative 'to do' list. But, I do have a bit of time. I'll keep you updated as we move from the development stage to our anticipated launch in January 2012.

I plan to continue my blog posts on Alamodeus, too! Do you like the new 'look?' It's like redecorating ... I have to keep it fresh!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The new black ...

"It's the new black." How many times have we heard that phrase? Well, I happen to love the old black, applied as a dramatic paint treatment in any room. Although I haven't found the courage to create a room d'noir in my own home quite yet, I find these glam rooms utterly swoon-worthy.

Ooh ... sleek, modern, refined ... there's no way to go wrong with black and white. Image via Decor Pad.

Throw in some metallic accessories and a bold shot of blue along with white to create a serene and sensual space. Image via Apartment Therapy.

You have to have great natural and artificial light in a room painted black. The use of white for painted trim and upholstered pieces really keeps the room from becoming too heavy. Above images via Polished Plum (left) and Kelly Proxmire (right).

Okay, I may be brave enough to try a focus wall in black. The one above looks spectacular as a backdrop for furnishings and art. Image via Eclectic Revisited.


Bathrooms and powder rooms are so dramatic dressed in black. The bath above (left) definitely has a Zen personality thanks to the use of large, black striated tiles. Image via Pitut. I could sit for hours in the powder room above (right), but then people might talk! This is the best of 'Cigar Lounge meets NY Upper East Side.' Image via My Daly Designs.

This Euro-chic bedroom is transformed from ordinary to extraordinary by the use of black stained wood strips that cover the focus wall. Stunning! Image via Remodelista.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Animal instincts ...

I would never, ever suggest using an animal hide to decorate your home. Geez, surely we've all evolved since the time when early man roamed the plains and lived in caves. But, I'm all for handsome man-made animal prints that bring a bit of untamed nature into our lives.

The zebra print rug perfectly anchors the seating group above, adding interest and texture to a well-dressed living room. Image via Splendid Sass.

Even in a room this enormous, and with a variety of surfaces and textures, the animal print ottoman makes a noteable impression in the seating area. Image source unknown

Zebra prints seem to be a favorite among decorators. It's hard to deny the animal magnetism found in the upholstered pieces above. Images via Home Unplugged (left) and ArchiThings (right).

The union of nature's patterns with modern materials can result in a beautifully contemporary design style. Occasional table photo (above) via Flick River.

Red cheetah and yellow zebra patterns add whimsy and drama to the space at left. Image via Design Clique.

Oh, Dr. Doolittle, could you have a chat with my sofa?

A harlequin romance ...

When I see a black and white tiled floor, I take my que from Mr. Zegfeld. I envision desending down an ornate staircase in a glittering gown and feather boa to arrive at a harlequin floor for my musical number.

Image via Abel McCallister Designs.

The glamour of harlequin tiling has not been lost on designers of our day either. A thoroughly modern salon (above) designed by Larry Abel has all the drama of a cinema classic.

Image via The Fancy Pants.

Where better to make a great first impression than in the foyer? The undeniable beauty of marble is evident in the entry of the home above.


The rustic texture of natural limestone and honed black marble are a luxurious and soothing flooring choice. I also gravitate to the black and white saltillo tiles that give an entry a more casual, rustic appeal. Images via SF Girl By Bay (above left) and Coco Cozy (above right).

Image via Coco Cozy.

But, if I ever get around to retiling my guest bath, this is without a doubt the design I have in mind for the floors. Beautiful black and white basketweave tiles set in a classic carrera marble floor tops my list for timeless beauty.

Broad strokes ...

Muralists amaze me! Visualizing an artistic concept takes a good deal of honed talent, but the execution of an image from ground to multi-storied rooftop is a challenge as enormous as the art itself.

I am particularly impressed with the work of two artists, Alexandros Vasmoulakis and Alexandre Farto, whose talents serve as artistic beacons in major cities across the globe.


Greek artist Alexandros Vasmoulakis has created images up to 10 stories tall on buildings throughout Athens. His 'individuals,' as Vasmoulakis refers to his whimsical caricatures, are interwoven with emotion and political commentary.


Often, the 30-year-old artist creates his visions on blighted buildings where he considers derelict facades and crumbling sidewalks a perfect canvas for his imagery. Since it's not necessary in Athens to get permission to paint in the public domain, Vasmoulakis has taken his street art to new heights, much to the delight of the communities he embellishes with his talents.

While the Moscow work of Alexandre Farto (above) is vastly different from Vasmoulakis, it is strikingly similar in its impact. Enormous, penetrating eyes peer down from multi-story buildings and speak intimately to each passerby.

Farto, a 20-something Portuguese graffiti/street artist also known as Vhils, came into prominence at the 2008 Cans Festival in London when his photo was on the front page of The Times, Britian's daily national newspaper. He has created hauntingly beautiful images over walls and doorways across Portugal, England, Russia, Italy and the United States. The ghostly image above is one of my favorites.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Erase and begin again ...

Chalkboard art must strike a harmonious cord with everyone who ever attended school. Perhaps it's our need to make amends for the times teacher called us to the board to write in front of our classmates. Or, perhaps we're enthralled with the knowledge that, unlike other media, we can easily erase those chalk mistakes and begin anew.

How fun it would be to take the mundane blackboard to new artistic heights with a personal chalk design and handsome frame! Chalkboard art looks comfortably at home even in the elegant, traditional setting created by Valentino Interior Design (above).

What a perfect way to remember a shopping list ... just write it on the wall. I love the practicality and functionality of blackboard paint on the kitchen wall (above left) featured on The Inside Story.

Want to change out the art in your living room? Just whip out the chalk to create something new as tastes change. Humble blooms complement the transitional style in the sitting area (above right). Photo via Eclectic Revisited. The board below shows a industrial style chalk art offering. Image via Urban Jane.

Go ahead and apply chalkboard paint to a bedroom wall. Then, you can create some architectural embellishment that your room lacks, or create your own accessories as shown in the images below.


Wall wizardry above via Colorful Creative Ideas (left) and Pick Me Yard (right).

Okay, it may not be chalkboard art, but the obsessive organizer in me loves the chalkboard labels on the jars above. Purchase them from the Braden Grace Wall Art shop on Etsy. I see no reason why these lovelies couldn't play host to some artwork, too!

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