Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Book List

Girl in Translation.  Kimberly Chang emigrated with her mother from Hong Kong to New York City under the sponsorship of her Aunt.  Her Aunt doesn't end up as benevolent as it first may seem as she puts them up in a hovel: an untenable apartment that is infested with cockroaches and doesn't have any heat to get them through the bitter winters.  To earn their keep even young Kimberly must work at the factory her relatives own.  Yet even under these dire circumstances Kimberley thrives academically earning her way into a prestigious private school, which ultimately puts her on the path towards a better life.  Amidst her struggles she meets another young factory worker, and they embark on an innocent love affair that turns out to be much more serious with life changing consequences.  What makes this story even more compelling is that it seems like a thinly veiled memoir, as the author herself emigrated from Hong Kong, worked in a factory, and received stellar grades gaining her entree into an Ivy League University.  Girl in Translation was this month's book club pick and the consensus was that the controversial ending made it lose a few points in our ratings.

The Tiger's Wife.  After the death of her grandfather, Natalia begins a quest to discover the mystery surrounding his death.  Interwoven with Natalia's present as a doctor working at an orphanage after the Balkan War, are folk tales her Grandfather told her as a child, which help her come to grips with the surrounding circumstances.  Often reading more like short stories than a cohesive novel, some chapters left me riveted while others were tedious.  What compelled me to pick up this book was the young author: in her mid-twenties, Tea Obreht, has earned the title of The New Yorker's one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty, and despite some of the slow chapters I can still see why she earned that title.

Mini-Shopaholic- The newest book in the Shopaholic Series.  I have read almost every book Sophie Kinsellas has written, certainly all of her Shopaholic books.  I was excited to pick this one up but Becky's shopping travails often fell flat in these economic times, as it read extra frivolous this go around.  I did find myself getting immersed in it mid-way through, as I had to see how Becky would manage to get herself out of immeasurable obstacles to escape financial ruin again.  Coming off reading Kinsella's Twenties Girl, which I enjoyed much more than expected and found surprisingly funny, Mini-Shopaholic is still a fun read but if choosing between the two I would definitely pick up Twenties Girl.

The Glass Castle- I read this at the insistence of a friend even though I always avoided it, because I thought the subject matter would be too depressing.  I'm glad I finally listened, they say "truth is stranger than fiction" and it would be hard to imagine such a childhood that Jeanette Walls endured.  A fascinating biography that I wish hadn't taken me so long to finally pick up.

Dreams of Joy-The long awaited sequel (at least by me) to Shanghai Girls.  This book picks up where Shanghai Girls ended, with a guilt ridden Joy fleeing to Communist China during the Great Leap Forward.  What I found most interesting is that most everything I have read about Communist China during this time period has been from the perspective of what it's like to live in the United States, but never have I heard about what it would be like for a US citizen to return to China.  Joy's naivete was sometimes grating and I found myself waiting for the chapter's with her Mother/Aunt's perspective. While definitely paling in comparison to the first book, I still highly recommend Shanghai Girls and this sequel as very interesting historical fiction.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Office Space

I have finally made most of the decisions regarding my office/study, which has come a long way since my initial plan.  I decided to put the settee on hold for now (I was definitely getting too caught up on this design detail) and focus on the essentials, which include a desk chair and bookcases.  The jumping off point was the desk and the Calypso Rug that I ended up being able to purchase during a rug sale I just happened upon when visiting the relatively new Dallas Calypso Home store.  I think I have also found my other key furniture pieces and my revised space can be seen below:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cocktail Dresses Courtesy of Net-A-Porter

With wedding season upon us, I have found it increasingly difficult to recycle some of my old cocktail dresses that I find in my closet.  That's why I was excited to discover that my favorite go-to site for designer clothes, Net-A-Porter, is having a tremendous sale, so it's the perfect time to stock up on dresses for these upcoming events.  Here are some of my favorite finds:

1.  Alice by Temperley Mini Annette Printed Modal Dress (Was $375 Now $120)
2.  Phillip Lim Embellished Cotton-Blend Dress (Was $620 Now $347)
3.  Day Birger et Mikkelsen Sequin and Bead Embellished Voile Dress (Was $560 Now $179)
4.  Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti Sequin-Embellished Crocheted Dress (Was $825 Now $264)
5.  Anna Sui Embellished Silk-Chiffon Mini Dress (Was $555 Now $266)
6.  Milly Metallic Strapless Mini Dress (Was $335 Now $107)
7.  Alldressedup Metallic Linen-Blend Dress (Was $610 Now $244)
8.  Tibi Animal Print Cotton-Twill Cap-Sleeved Dress (Was $370 Now $148) 
9.  Thread Social Draped Hammered-Silk Dress (Was $495 Now $158)
10. Matthew Williamson Embroidered Crepe Dress (Was $1495 Now $358)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Escapes

I LOVE Europe in the summertime and it has been way too long since I've been.  It doesn't look like I will make it there this summer so the next best thing is to reminisce on trips past.

First stop-Krakow, Poland:

A charming city with an expansive, vibrant city square.

Culture, music, and sumptuous pierogis.

A towering clocktower:


For novelty, you can visit the nearby salt mines and travel to the bowels of the earth to see a whole city created entirely out of salt:

And of course no European city is complete without a castle:

Have a great week!

Friday, June 24, 2011

House Progress 6

All things considered, this week went much more smoothly than last week as far as our House Progress goes. They installed the honed marble countertops and backsplash!

Here is our butler's pantry:

Close up on backsplash in the kitchen:

The honed carrera marble installed on our island:

View of the kitchen with the faucet:

They also installed our light fixtures including our ceiling fans (not pictured), a necessary evil in Texas, which I can appreciate at this point since we have hit triple digits consecutively for what has felt like a very long time.

This is our dining room:

The pendant light installed in our powder bathroom:

They also installed our sink and faucets in all the bathrooms including the Master:

Until next week, have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chevron Floors a la Million Dollar Decorators

Is anyone as obsessed with Million Dollar Decorators as me?  I often think that Bravo can do no wrong, as they have me hooked on numerous shows and this one is no exception.  This week's episode featured this redesigned office by Mary McDonald where the floor was at first a big issue of contention:
Image via Bravo
The homeowner really hated it at first when the room was a blank slate with only the chevron floors as the focal point.  But once the room was finished and all the furniture installed, she really warmed up to the look.  I happen to love chevron floors, especially in a bathroom:
My favorite!

Another chevron floor by Mary McDonald

Images via Pinterest
How do you feel about chevron floors?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Candy Colored Settees

While I was lamenting the demise of the Urban Outfitters citron settee, I scoured the web for a reasonable substitute and found these settees from Nate Berkus' line at HSN:

While their yellow is more marigold than citron, I am also really liking the ikat pattern.  It's nice to know that not all is lost as far as reasonably priced settee options for my library.

P.S. Has anyone bought anything from Nate Berkus for HSN?  I bought a side table and was so impressed with the look and quality!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Candy Colored Watches

While shopping at my neighborhood Target, I found these colorful watches at a steal:

I have seen quite a few of these watches out there for a few hundred dollars.  At only 12.99, whether lounging poolside or running around town, they are the perfect way to brighten up any summer outfit!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Escapes

Summer officially starts tomorrow and you know what that means, it's time to pack your bags and visit an island:

Where you can drive to the top of the world and look down on the clouds:

And enjoy varied terrain with lush peaks and valleys, along with volcanoes surrounded by a craggy landscape:

This island also holds black and white sand beaches:

Images via Travelmoon
But you are more likely to find an English Pub rather than a Luau.

It's Tenerife, Canary Islands!

Have a great week!

Friday, June 17, 2011

House Progress 5

We have had some setbacks this week that have made our house progress a bit of a roller coaster.  We were very excited to have our marble kitchen countertops installed only to discover that they were going in polished instead of honed, so off they went.  The honed countertops will be going in today.

The biggest disappointment was our exterior color.  For all of my focus of overseeing the progress for mistakes like the one noted above, I made a major mistake in not arriving first thing in the morning to make sure the paint color was what I expected.

I arrived at the house in the early afternoon to find that the exterior was a very light shade of purplish/bluish/gray.  I was disappointed that they had not shown me a sample on the home as they had for the interior to approve.  Instead, by the time I arrived the whole house was painted!  We are back at square one and have a few samples on the exterior, so we can see it in person before going forward with the color change:

As for the positives, they installed the tile in our Master Bathroom.  This includes the floor to ceiling tiles in the walk in shower, the countertops, and the backsplash above the countertops (sinks are still nowhere to be found at this point):
They will lower the mirror frame so that the edge meets the backsplash.

Walk in Shower

Close up of Countertop and Backsplash
Alternate View of Bathroom

After they complete the plumbing, the same tile used for the backsplash will also be installed on the entire face of the tub.
They also installed the countertop in the powder bath along with our vessel sink:
Powder Bath
And the marble tile fireplace surround:
Currently they are completing the tile in the upstairs bathrooms and utility rooms.  After a scare that the tiles we had selected were back ordered way past our expected closing date, they ended up locating the tiles after all.  It has been a tumultuous week on the house front, but I know it always comes together in the end.

Have a great weekend!