Friday, April 29, 2011

A Seemingly Invaluable Box of Negatives

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection
In 2007, a Chicago real estate agent bought a box of old negatives at auction.

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection

It wasn't until several months later that the agent, John Maloof, examined them and realized that he had stumbled upon something extraordinary. 
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection

He had discovered one of America's best street photographers.  Someone who had the ability to capture arresting and beautiful public images of people in their most mundane and intimate moments.
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection

Mr. Maloof eventually tracked down and bought other boxes of negatives that had sold that day at auction.  

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection
But Mr. Maloof wasn't aware of the photographer's identity until he found an envelope of negatives with a name scrawled on it.

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection

When he googled the name, Mr. Maloof found an obituary.  The photographer had died three days earlier.

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection

Her name was Vivian Maier.

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection

She had taken more than 100,000 photographs in her lifetime and it is believed that she had never shown a soul, except for her charges.

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection

 You see, Ms. Maier had worked all her life as a nanny and was a bit of a loner. 

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection
This is a picture of Ms. Maier with her Rolleiflex camera.  It requires the photographer to look down into it, thus obscuring the fact of picture taking.  

As a result, many of her subjects seemed unaware of their photographer.

© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection

 Unknown to her subjects and unknown as an artist, until now.  

Mr. Maloof has taken on the responsibility of curating her work exhibiting it to the world.

To see more of her extraordinary pictures, you can visit Mr. Maloof's blog at
Sources:  All photographs were copied with permission.
All information used to write this post came from the May/June 2011 issue of Mother Jones magazine's "Exposing Vivian Maier."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A small feature on Apartment Therapy


Today I was surprised to find out that my thrift store plant stands were included in the Apartment Therapy article 

Too bad the picture is so blurry.  I had just started the blog when I took these, and had yet to find out that there was a fingerprint on my lens.  That automatic lens cover is just too irresistible for little fingers. 

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I never did turn this into a lamp or into a side table.  In fact, one of them is currently being used as a,

wait for it...

plant stand.

For Melissa

My friend, Melissa, who's bedroom I recently helped with, just had a flood in her condo.  The carpeting has to be replaced, and she has decided on hardwood floors.  Darn the luck, right? I bet she isn't thinking that now, though.

Anyway, she asked me to help her find pictures of hardwood floors to help her decide what to get.
I'm pulling from my favorite rooms, plus a few others.

Medium Tone

This medium tone is really nice and classic.  The herringbone pattern in the first two feels traditional, but it's also pretty trendy now. Although it may cost more to install. 

Light Tone

These lighter floors give an airy look to a place.  They can feel country or modern.  To me, these floors say I don't take myself too seriously.

Dark Tone

Note the glossy finish here.

Dark floors ground a space and look really great with white or very light colored walls.  This finish has drawbacks though because if you have an animal in the house (or children for that matter) every hair and crumb will show. 

Here's something to consider when choosing.

While some people might like this look, I prefer not to match the floors to the cabinets or furniture.

I should know...

I did not choose the finish on my floors, but had I chosen the stain, I would not have gone as dark or red.  Why?  Most of my furniture is dark. 

Scroll up again and look at the photos above.  Notice that many of these rooms have furniture, walls, cabinets that are not the same tone as the floor.

If I were to choose for Melissa, I'd go with a medium tone on the lighter side.  It's a classic feel, will be easy to resell when the time comes, and they hide all manner of mess.

Do you have a preference when it comes to hardwood floors?

Maybe something else to add that I haven't thought of?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Things I Like and Good News

Barn Light Electric - Barn Light Radial Wave - $174
I have no place to put this, but isn't it cheery?

Ballard Designs Bull Head - $50

I recently posted about decorating about the invisible line.  I think the black one would look great above a doorway.  Actually, any one of them would.  But I'm partial to black.  There's a surprise.

Now the for the good news.

I got this email today from our landlord's daughter.  (The landlords are older and do not use email, so we communicate through their daughter.)

Hi Camille,
I spoke with my parents.   They are fine with the project.
Please submit your receipts for the materials and we will reimburse the costs.
Thank you.

The project to which she is referring, is my request to paint our kitchen cabinets.  So excited!  The best part is that we said we'd do it on our dime.  So I certainly didn't expect that they'd offer to pay.

 Ugly oak, here I come!

Anyone have any good kitchen cabinet painting tips?

Look Alikes

This is my recent dining room table project.

I found the black base at a junk shop for $15 and the wooden round top for $20 on craigslist, which I painted. 

I keep running across these look alikes.  First this one from Houzz.

Which sources from this website.  It's one of those with no prices given.
via bellini modern living

And I finally came across this smaller version on Olioboard the other night.  It's a cafe table from Target and retails for $199.
via Olioboard

While I can appreciate the chrome and glass look, it's a bit too polished and contemporary for my taste.  

The inspiration for my table came from Wisteria.

 They're at least distant cousins, right?

It's been fun to see my table in it's other incarnations.  

P.S.  I got the idea to use a round table in my dining room from my aunt.  She also recently put a round table in her dining room for the same reasons I have.  She has had a huge influence in my interest in decorating and interior design.  Love you, Auntie!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


via The Decorista
via The Decorista
via Komma Hem

via House Beautful
via House Beautiful
via New Victorian Ruralist

 via Mrs. French

It makes sense.  They're like little sculptures with their texture, color, and form.  And like most things, they look so great grouped together.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Arranging Flowers 101

As a trained floral designer, I've been waiting to do this post on professional floral arranging tips all winter when I knew that Spring would be ripe with free pickings.  

This loose and garden-y looking bouquet is made from cuttings in my yard.

If you saw my yard, you'd never believe I had enough stuff to fill a vase.  You'd be surprised, my friends, what looks good when you cut it and bring it inside.

 Like this broccoli that has gone to seed. (The yellow flowers.) 

And this sage.  (I think it's a sage.)

Clockwise from top left: ginger leaf, geranium, lemon balm, Japanese iris, sage, lavender, broccoli gone to seed.  I also later added some petunias when I needed more flowers to fill a hole.
 I took 1-5 cuttings of each kind of plant and brought them inside.  Notice that the size of the flowers varies from large to small.

Most of these are not typical cut flowers, like the kind bred for longevity you'd find in a flower shop. So they may not last as long, but they're FREE!

Professional Tip
Start with a CLEAN vase.  If you want your flowers to last, it HAS to be clean -- like scrubbed-with-soap-and-hot-water clean.

This vase is a favorite and a good beginner vase.  It's only about five inches tall which means your stems don't have to be super long.  The opening is about the size of a deck of cards.

When you start experimenting with arrangements, any opening larger than a deck of cards is going to bring frustration!

The rectangular shape is awesome for arranging.  I'll show you why in a sec.

Here's one of my favorite Professional Tips:
Use a wide. very large leaf like canna, ginger, or hosta, and take a sharp knife to cut the inflexible spine off.

This allows you to roll it up in your hand, and plop it into the vase for great shot of green.
(The wide-leaf-in-vase look is especially wonderful with a dome full of roses, or other tightly formed bouquet made from a single kind of flower.)

Next add your greenery -- you a can use anything here -- even clippings from a tree!  

Professional Tip:
Starting with greenery allows you to create the "framework" to hold the other flowers in place. 

In this case I used wonderful smelling lemon balm.  Arrange it so that the greens literally drop over the corners of the vase.  Rectangular vases are easy to arrange in!

Professional Tip
Remove ALL foliage below the water line.  Foliage rots more quickly than the stems, creating bacteria which is the enemy of every cut flower.  (The wide leaf I added will contribute to bacteria growth, however, it will decay more slowly than your standard leaf because it has a waxy surface.)

Hold your stem up to the vase to determine which leaves fall below the water line and to help you determine the length of the stem.  Cut your stem at an angle.  This allows more surface area for stem-drinking, and it keeps the majority of the stem end off of the bottom of the vase, where it would not be able to suck that water.

I like to add the largest flowers next and slowly move to the smaller flowers.

Professional Tip:  

If you want your arrangement to look a floral designer got to it, be sure to cover the edges of the the vase with flowers and greenery by angling the stems and letting them hang over.  This is not true in all cases, but it is in most!
In this arrangement, I chose to group my like flowers together for more impact, but added one or two away from the group to bring the eye around the arrangement.

I didn't get pictures of the rest of the flowers being added, but if you like this kind of post, I can do more tutorials with more professional tips.

I'll leave you with one last tip.

Professional Tip
Turn your vase as you work to make sure there are no "holes" and to create a uniform shape.  In this arrangement, the overall shape is that of an umbrella.  It helps to visualize an umbrella as you create. 

Happy flower arranging you all!

If you are interested in more of these kinds of posts, or want to know how to do a certain kind of flower or arrangement, let me know.

I'm also linking up to The Lettered Cottage's "How-To" Link Party

The Lettered Cottage

Update: To see other floral arranging how-tos as part of my new Friday Flower School Series, click: