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English Muse: March 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The cats are out...

Our two cats emerged this week from under the couch...
They immediately took up residence on the windowsills. They seem to be recovering from our move. I am too.

There's only one way to fight these house blues: Decorate. I'm putting most of my rustic pine furniture from the old house on consignment. Tomorrow I'm starting my quest for new things for our new abode!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Some good news, finally

Window Box
We learned today from our real estate agent that we have ten offers on our house! Almost all of them are above our asking price. The offers arrived with the loveliest, heartfelt letters. There were so many kind comments about the garden from the sweetest people imaginable.

I spent most of the weekend on the couch with a box of tissues feeling such a profound sense of loss. I was semi-prepared for my layoff. After so many of my dear colleagues had lost their jobs before me, I had vowed to only keep at my desk what could be packed in five minutes. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the realization that we could no longer keep the house.

I am heartened tonight knowing that the house will soon be owned by a family who loves it as much as we do.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Loss & Life

Dominique Browning, the former editor of House & Garden, wrote so beautifully in today's New York Times Magazine about her struggle to rebuild her life after Conde Nast closed the magazine in 2007. I've read a lot of layoff stories since I lost my job at the Los Angeles Times in October, but Browning's captures the pain and devastation most eloquently.

She writes: "Just because something failed doesn't mean you're a failure. Just because something has ended doesn't mean it was all a mistake. Just because you've been rejected doesn't mean you're worthless and unlovable."

I know I've been talking a lot these days about my layoff. It's weighting especially heavy on my mind because -- like Browning -- we're selling our house to start anew. This is how it goes: first you lose the job and then you lose the life.

I'm not exactly sure how my new life is going to shake out. It will be different -- and maybe even better.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ode to a house

Diana Camera
It's official: our little Tudor style house is on the market.
If anyone out there is looking for a very cute place in Pasadena, maybe this is the house for you.

I would like to write a missive here about my layoff....I'm just going to say this: We spent nearly 12 happy years in this house. I'll miss the roses and the clawfoot tub.

Life goes on...

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Giant Treasure Box

I have this large Chinese chest that serves as the catch-all for a variety of trinkets, knickknacks and curious junk. Every six months or so I open it to add new things or take things out. (It's very similar to opening the ornament box at Xmas.) After this move, I was searching for colorful things to display on my bookcase. The Chinese hat with the pink pompoms is once again my favorite. This is how it looks now:

Do you have a box like this?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Decor Dilemma

My dear decor experts, I'm having a small decorating dilemma. We have a very mod brick fireplace in our new flat. It poses a challenge because it's off-center, stands about a foot off the floor and has no mantel. Should I just leave the top portion plain or try to hang a painting?

I definitely would love to find a fantastic Eames-era screen like this:

I also think this fireplace is lovely:

Any thoughts!?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It isn't really home...

...until the books are on the shelves:

Screen shot 2010-03-21 at 8.46.34 AM
Screen shot 2010-03-21 at 8.46.08 AM
This is my favorite part of unpacking: arranging the shelves. I always start out with the intent to keep things minimal, even monotoned. But I am a magpie at heart. So there's more color to come!

PS: A few of you asked about the screensaver on my computer in my last post. It's a Japanese noren called "The Great Wave," by Hokusai. It came with my Mac, but I've now uploaded it onto flickr, if you want to use it as a screensaver too. Just click the picture below:

Screen shot 2010-03-20 at 10.45.22 PM

Hope you're having a lovely Sunday...


Thursday, March 18, 2010

A room with a view...

Hello everyone! It's so nice to be back here blogging! I wanted to show you some pictures of our new home....

This is the view from the terrace. We have five huge windows that look out into the garden:
Screen shot 2010-03-18 at 10.19.42 AM

Here's Lola on the couch. Our angry cats have been hiding underneath it for a week now. Occasionally we hear the couch growl.
Screen shot 2010-03-18 at 5.02.47 PM

Here's the view from my desk (it's where I'm now doing this post!)
Screen shot 2010-03-18 at 5.03.53 PM

Here's a rare sighting of Kali, walking fast past our white brick fireplace...
Screen shot 2010-03-18 at 5.00.30 PM

I have lots of unpacking still to do. Thank you for all your warm wishes and emails. I hope to get caught up by this weekend! xo


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Video of our move..

Hello, I'm Isabella. I'm guest blogging today on the English Muse while my mom unpacks our boxes! I wanted to show you a video I did of how simple it is to complete an entire move in 3:00 minutes with iMovie. Thank You Kris Allan for the great song. I used photo booth to take each and every photo that you see here. I transferred these pictures onto Imovie and made them about .3 seconds each. I added music and there you go, a true piece of art right before your eyes!

I hope you like the video. I'm only 11 but my mom thinks I should go to USC film school someday. I'm not sure. I think I'd like to be a veterinarian because I love animals, especially my cat Kali.

PS: My mom wanted me to tell you that everyone who entered the drawing last week will receive a gardening book or magazine. Please send your address to englishmuse (at) yahoo (dot) com. She also wanted me to tell you that she's behind on answering emails and sending out packages but will catch up later this week!

Thank you,



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Still at it...

Sorry I've been absent...I'm still packing like mad! Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be able to come up for air.

Re: My grand book giveaway.
Thank for your emails! I've shipped 80 packages. Sending more this week!


PS: Don't forget to enter to win the art table! Will announce the winner later tonight!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fantastic Friday Giveaway: Hand Painted Table

I'm very pleased to announce the giveaway of this gorgeous little table, created
by Los Angeles artist Susan Spinks.

The colorful piece is called "The Dance Recital." (I especially love the crown on the elephant.)

Susan specializes in transforming 1950's era tables and trays into works of art...

She says: "I paint my images on vintage trays and tables to tell a fragment of a story and let imagination fill in the rest.  All trays and tables are functional art and can be used for serving as well as decor."

Susan has many more beautiful pieces for sale in her Etsy store.

This little table is 17 inches tall and 14 inches square. (It's also a $100 value!) To qualify to win, please leave a comment here and visit Susan's Etsy store. The winner will be announced on Tuesday.

Good luck lovies!

UPDATE! The winner is Michelle Carter!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mid-Century Love

Hello everyone...Here are a few Polaroids of our beautiful 1960s-era apartment building...For some reason my scanner made the photos black and white:

I'm especially in love with the lobby, with its funky hanging lamps:

and the exterior awning...

and, of course, our apartment:

I can't wait to move in!

Drowning in a sea of paper...

Over the past two days I've been trying to clear out our garage. There's so much paper: old bills, newspapers, xmas cards, photographs, letters. Stacks and stacks of books and magazines...
It's stressing me out!

Maybe there's something to living a paper-free life.

What do you keep and what do you toss? And what about books? Do you keep them forever or give them away after you read them? I have a friend who leaves boxes at the backdoor of her favorite used bookstore late at night. She calls it stealth dumping!

(Photo found on the Internet, somewhere.)

Monday, March 1, 2010


Hello everyone,

We're moving! We put the house up for sale and we found a gorgeous garden apartment, very 1960s mod. At the moment I'm trying to clear out 10 years worth of accumulated junk. I'm looking forward to a simpler life -- less stuff, smaller living expenses and more money to travel...

I promise to post photos of our new place in the coming days!

I'll miss our little rose-covered cottage, but mid-century modern seems so chic...

PS-- The winner of the vintage Japanese box is CHELSEA HAYWOOD!