Saturday, September 27, 2014

Soap-making maven ...

Before I post this week's inspirations, I want to share a small request.  You may remember that I decided to follow in my grandfather's footsteps when I made a life and career change several years ago.

Granddad, second from left, was a soap-making pioneer during the Great Depression. Sure he earned a living, but never had the resources to build the family business in a way that allowed it to reach its full potential.

Today, my husband and I have an opportunity to receive a grant from Chase Bank to help us take big steps in our business and community.  Our Capistrano Soap Company is eligible for a $150K grant to grow our business if we can show some social media power. We need 250 votes to finalize our grant application, and we're not yet half way there.

I’m asking you to take less than 10 seconds to cast a vote for us. Your support would be most appreciated!

To vote, you’ll be asked to connect with Facebook, but no worries. They won’t store or share your personal information – it’s legit and a secure process for verifying online votes. HERE'S THE VOTE LINK:

Your vote really does matter! This grant will help our manufacturing operations and add to our ACEQUIA all-natural product line (see our ad at top right of our blog page).

This is making me blush, so I’m just going to come out with it. We can’t do it without you, so please take a few seconds to help us reach our needed vote count. I wish I could reach out to hug you and give you smooches, but I’ll just say thank you 150,000 times!

Please VOTE NOW, then get back to the Alamodeus posts below for this week's inspirational powder rooms and wallpaper eye candy!

Point me to the powder room ...

I'm not sure why that small guest bath is called a 'powder room.' My guess is that ladies would dash off to powder their nose for a little refresh. Actually, my powder room is the place that needs a refresh from floor to walls!

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I came across the image above and fell 'head over heels' for every nook and cranny of this room designed by Eric Olsen. From the wood beam ceiling and pendant lighting to the graphic wallpaper, concrete sink and wall mounted faucet, the Italian word 'amore' keeps repeating in my head.

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We have a similar inset for our sink as in each of these photos, so I can pretty much visualize how any of the looks could work at home. I know, I know ... the wallpaper is the lipstick that gives these rooms punch.

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The architectural drawings married to the industrial finishes above are clever and attractive. But, what I really would enjoy is taking something with amazing 'bones' and creating a dream space. I'm up for a 'real' challenge ...

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I'd really like to give the powder room in this abandoned manor house outside of Paris a little rehab. In someplace this beautiful, it wouldn't even be considered work! Now, where is that realtor?


Wallpaper wishes ...

Every once in a while, I rediscover the beauty of wallpaper.  Sure, I've peeled and steamed more than my fair share of the stuff off my walls and have sworn "never again." So you'd think I wouldn't even consider decorating with it again, but I've fallen in love once more.

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The current object of my desire is Escortal hand printed wallpaper from Pintura Studio (shown above and below). Photographed by Rachel Watson and Alexandra Strata for Lonny Magazine.

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I love the bold pattern, and the earthy green is enticing, too. But, I actually think it's the rustic, artisan nature of the print process - a bit Wabi Sabi - that perfect imperfection that I love.

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Thibaut Design also gets it oh-so-right with its fabulous swirls in melon pink. This entire room is a masterful expression of cheerful ambience.


I'm even smitten with some of the new designs that evoke a decidedly masculine tone. The gold antler motif with cranberry background (above left) from Barnaby Gates would work beautifully in a man's study or library, while a gold floral 'Petal Pusher' pattern (above right) from Hygge & West is charming on charcoal gray.


Until I've convinced myself that my new-found fondness for wallpaper will be a lasting desire, I may just add some interest to smaller surfaces like drawers and cabinets.

Images above via Good Housekeeping (left) and A Lo and Behold Life (right).

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Maybe a pantry makeover is a good place to add some glam color or just a hint of pattern.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mainly mustard ...

As autumn rolls in, my color choices make way for deeper, richer tones, and mustard is the first shade that comes to mind.

Blame it on Fashion Week, but I'm reminded of a mustard yellow wool coat that I had years ago, so beloved that I finally tossed it after it was almost threadbare and moths got the better of it. I'm so happy to see this color reintroduced.


Images above via The Dress Spot (left) and Chicismo (right).
Photos below from Lulu's Couture (left) and Love Waffaa (right).


I even have a family heirloom chair upholstered in velvet that was once every bit a vibrant as a classic Dijon. It pairs well with the taupe and gray (griege) tones I so love.

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When I think of jewel tones, I always include deep yellow hues as a counterbalance. Think of how amethyst, sapphire and emerald pair so well with their contrasting golden counterparts.

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The falling leaves and harvest crops of autumn are my signals to focus on my favorite seasonal colors indoors, too.  I have some pillow projects in the works and tablecloths to add that will bring a pop of mustard to our living spaces.


Images above via Country Living (left) and Poppyseed (right).

Mustard is a predominate color in the linens of Provence and are everywhere in the collected artifacts and antiques in village flea markets and brocantes.

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Crazy beautiful and definitely warm and inviting!

Futon flair ...

You're probably thinking futons have made little progress since your dorm days.  But, au contraire. There's a whole new world of convertible seating designed to impress.

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I'm hoping the day will arrive when I have to furnish a small Paris apartment, and when that opportunity comes, I've got my eye on some gorgeous futons to give limited space more function.

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Futons have come a long way in terms of comfort and style. Photos above and below show two handsome futons manufactured by Bento, both reasonably priced and available through

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Even when space is not an issue, futons have become attractive in their own right as seating choices. The fact that they can accommodate overnight guests is a plus. And, now there are more options in length to give those sleepers extended room to really stretch out.

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Gorgeous fabrics and sleek lines have moved futons from dorm dwelling to dynamic design that transcends style labels. From New York penthouse to Paris pied-à-terre, futons feel right at home.

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By the time we get around to buying that little lodging in France, I'll have completely furnished the place in my mind. Futon. Check.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Salt savvy ...

Wow!  I've been away from blogging for a month and have so much to share, including a new-found love of salt.  I spent some time during my 'vacances d'été' reading a back issue of Kinfolk Magazine, and was delighted to learn how this simple little mineral can elevate food in ways that are new to my culinary experience.

I love it when reading exposes me to something entirely new and unfamiliar. In this case, it's all about salt block cooking, specifically using Himalayan salt blocks for bringing out the best in foods.

The Kinfolk article features an interview with Mark Bitterman, the sultan of salt who owns The Meadow, a specialty boutique that sells salts, chocolates and bitters from around the world with locations in Portland, Oregon, and New York City’s West Village. He has authored several books on salt block cooking that I'm dying to get my hands on very soon, including: Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes and the follow-up James Beard Award-winning Salt Block Cooking.

Bitterman sums up salt block cooking this way, "Sautéeing on Himalayan salt blocks creates exponentially more flavor than sautéeing in a conventional skillet. This is because a salt block cooks your food in two ways. At a blazing 500 degrees or higher, the heavy block of salt has enormous thermal mass, sizzling away moisture to produce a thick crust of rich, concentrated flavor. At the same time, the Himalayan salt itself sets to work, bursting cell membranes, intermingling juices, and breaking loose new flavors that in turn sizzle away to make for even more concentrated flavors."

How could I not be hooked? Once I read Bitterman's recipe for Salt Block Scallops with Szechuan Peppercorns and Citrus, I knew I had to get my hands on a salt block of my own. (I'm thinking Happy Birthday to me ...)

Anyone who knows me knows my love of sweets, so the thought of using a Himalayan salt block to freeze ice cream made this idea a done deal.

I'm ready to succumb to the allure of salt.

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