Ew.

Up until yesterday, when we had a lapse into cold weather, there was little doubt that spring had arrived around our house.  Mr. M and I spent last weekend planting flowers, herbs and vegetables, and he did his annual fixing of our goldfish pond, triumphing in the hope that he'd finally gotten it right. That very evening we were greeted by the songs of toads, and were somehow to tired to remember exactly what that meant. Instead, we gleefully poured glasses of wine on the porch and toasted the sounds of spring.

On Tuesday after clipping some overgrown herbs I decided to take a wander around the gardens in between rain showers.

When I went around to the vegetable garden I forgot all about it. I couldn't hear. My eardrums were practically blown out by the "calls" of the toads. I kind of wish I hadn't walked over to the pond to see what was going on, because what I found can only be described as a massive amphibian orgy. Suddenly I was forced to remember the revolting sight of freshly-laid toad eggs. OMG. Ew! And so many procreating toads!!

I wonder if they thought the new statue was some sort of fertility god?

I wonder if they thought the new statue was some sort of fertility god?

The leader of the pack, next to the yet-to-be-hidden pump wiring

The leader of the pack, next to the yet-to-be-hidden pump wiring

Ew. Just ew. Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew.

Ew. Just ew. Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew.

Ew.

Architectural Digest Home Show 2014 roundup

Last month I returned to New York for the Architectural Digest Home Show--one of my favorite trade shows of all time. For some of us, the show is partially a writer/blogger/design nut reunion and partially an annual primer in where both practical and aspirational design is headed. To me, this is one of the few large-scale design trade events in the United States that pays proper homage to what really draws each individual in to the pleasures of aesthetics. The corporate conglomerate is on the same floor as the mixed-media artist who is working his or her way through local and regional galleries. It's a perfect and exhausting blend that I hope will keep the same constitution through the years.

Over the next few weeks I'll be highlighting some of the people and brands I scouted in March, but in the meantime here's a visual summary of the show experience.

Lori Morris Design provided a visual display that stopped everyone in their tracks. The display's centerpiece was an amazing floral design by Preston Bailey, which was a testament to "art for the sake of the good and the beautiful," to borrow from George Sand, the 19th century French writer.

The Marys & Mimosas media and blogger event, sponsored by Modenus, has become an AD Show tradition. Writers and bloggers are invited to kick the show off with a cocktail at 10am, before the floor opens to the trade and the public. What a way to start a day!

Veronika Miller (far right), the force behind Modenus, has a way of making everyone feel as though she's known them forever. This unique trait has brought so many design bloggers together into a chain of friendship that spans the globe thanks to the brand's BlogTour, which is currently having a ball in Milan.

This was Andrew Madvin's first time showing Axiom Glass at the AD Show, and his work was a huge hit.

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Happy Mother's Day to me? (hint, hint) Alison Cooley; Luctor Et Emergo; watercolor on paper; 22 x 30 inches. image via thetappancollective.com

Happy Mother's Day to me? (hint, hint)

Alison Cooley; Luctor Et Emergo; watercolor on paper; 22 x 30 inches. image via thetappancollective.com

If you're looking for resources to build your art collection, bookmark The Tappan Collective, an online platform started by University of Michigan alumna Jordan Klein and Chelsea Neman. The duo has built an impressive reputation for connecting promising emerging artists with collectors who have discerning eyes and intelligent taste.

This year I was introduced to Gaggenau for the first time via an industry party/cooking demonstration the company was kind enough to invite me to. The German kitchen appliance brand celebrates a "return to traditional production methods, linked to a quest for original authentic food is becoming an important influence in the culinary world." The culinary demonstration and tasting by Chef Mark Ladner (Del Posto) was as wonderful to taste as it was to see, and I now have a brand on the brain that celebrates the ways in which many genres of the arts intersect in the quest for quality and careful thought.

Hopefully these images whet your appetite for more to come!

All photographs are my own unless othewise noted

Le déluge s'en vient...

Yeah.

I went away for two whole weeks.

Again.

I haven't exactly been idle over the past couple of weeks... but I certainly misjudged how many hours of the day my brain is able to produce readable written words that aren't always part of my day job. It happens to us all sometimes. We've been to New York for the Architectural Digest Home Show. I've been putting a girls' weekend together for one of my dearest friends who's getting married. I've been meeting with various people about my next phase of "life."* Mr. M and I attended Dr. Leo Twiggs's wildly successful opening at if ART gallery. There are always deadlines. The kids, for some strange reason, always want to be fed, read to, played with, clothed, or driven somewhere. Oh, and it's tax season--my absolute (least) favorite chore of the year. There's a whole gaggle of people out there like me who will stare this kind of calendar down with narrowed eyes and declare that they can do it all and then some--and we believe ourselves. So here I am, four days past due on the blog, with a backlog of things to share. It could be worse. What if I had nothing to share? 

I've managed to acquire an overflow of unnecessary noise in my life over the past couple of years. It's the kind of noise that tries to suffocate your love for the causes you take on and toys with the feelings about the city in which you live. There will always be people who disagree with your views, and the people I respect the most aren't necessarily the ones who always say things I agree with. They're the ones who can argue their side and still raise a glass with you at the end of the day, no matter which way the argument went. Despite that, I've felt a little bogged down and am looking forward to some re-focusing (seems like I get into the New Year's resolution spirit when summer approaches!).

I need more of this in my life right now!

I need more of this in my life right now!

Mr. M and I are not taking the boys to London this summer (though the two of us may slip off for a week at some point). June is going to be a fresh start, where I'll have shed the heavy cloaks that have been pulling me away from the parts of my life that make me uniquely myself. I hope to be constantly creating instead of constantly wishing for more time to create. I'll be immersing myself in projects that have been patiently waiting in the wings for my full attention while I've been dodging well-intended questions about where they'll lead. I'll be re-entering that bubble I used to make fun of myself about. Most importantly, I'll be driving the boys crazy with arts and craft projects. All. Summer. Long.**

The bubble full of fun, positive people who celebrate ideas action and triumphs instead of looking for hairline cracks at every turn is something that I've been missing lately. 

In the meantime I have SD cards, notebooks and external drives that are groaning with the content that I've built up since March 16, so expect a busy couple of weeks on the blog.

*more on that soon, I promise!

**and documenting their resistance with glee!

Experimenting with florals

I really intended on setting a #PhotoFriday post this week, but I kind of ran out of time. Sorry about that! But today has been a rainy, dreary mess. Each member of the family has been content to quietly claim their own snippet of the house to relax or play.

Since I recently promised myself that I would work more on still life photography, I converted my "Mama Space" into a pop-up photography studio and quietly worked away this morning. I guess we'll just pretend that it's Friday.

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Today I'm obsessing over STUDIOS

Like a lot of creative-minded crazy people, I go through intense periods of stalker-like obsessions. One week it's a quaint hunt-box cottage in the country. One month it'll be a tightly-fit, fabric bedecked reading nook. Some other time it will be a determination to make part of my kitchen into a magical  baking project retreat for my kids (which would go over like a lead balloon). 

Lately this obsession has honed in on creative studio workspace. If you follow me on Pinterest, you'll see that I have a board dedicated to all kinds of airy, industrial, light-filled spaces. Here's a roundup of some favorites.

This is one of the few situations where a room being dramatic and busy serves an important purpose. You can create anything in that light--words, photographs, paintings, music... a true multipurpose space. The image was found on the Tumblr blog Fashion Fever (and was a re-pin, on my part).

More light, plus an inspiring and thoughtful collection of art to stare at between sentences and clicks. This one came from a post on From The Right Bank, and is a Swedish import, originating from Sköna hem.

Another Swedish import, from Trendser-- more light, more white, more blank canvases to dwell in while coming up with ideas. 

Where do you dream of creating these days?