Friday, November 30, 2012

It's Raining Indoors! Oh, the Joys of Home Ownership.

When I talk about my home, I usually about the nice parts of home ownership: Choosing paint, selecting flooring, and having the freedom to tile my backsplash any way I like. But sometimes home ownership sucks. Today's post is a valentine to Keith, who was awoken at 6:30 by the sound of rain in our kitchen. Something was not right.

Penelope Cruz poses for the Campari 2013 calendar. IF ONLY indoor rain made us all look like this, right?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

a calm, cool place to sip coffee on a Saturday afternoon while admiring the way the sun sparkles on the water

After working and saving for more than 30 years, my parents just bought a beautiful house on Old Hickory Lake. The house is on a peninsula, so it has views of the lake from almost every room, and lots of big beautiful windows. They're so excited, and Mom is already working hard to make it feel like home. That got me thinking about vacation houses. Why are they usually so kitschy and ugly? Does owning a second home suddenly make people really like junk with bears on it? If I'm going someplace to relax, I'd want it to look and feel like home!

Elegance at the Lake House

Monday, November 26, 2012

Inky Midnight Blue Walls

Right now I'm so drawn to dark colors that evoke moody Edgar Allen Poe stories, ominously overgrown gardens, and sternly patrician elegance... but with a clean, modern edge. Perhaps it's a desire to hibernate that makes me love these dark, cozy rooms--but aren't they gorgeous? I love that way the white trim and accents crisply pop against the inky midnight blue paint.
I love these dramatic contrasts! The wooden farmhouse table juxtaposed with the Saarinen style chairs, the lushly textured
sheepskin rug against the parquet floor, and the velvety blue versus the acid yellow upholstery have me swooning.  Source
This is not a young look, but I love it. The original art, classic mantle, and wingback chair are so elegant. The faux bois rug and crisp white accessories make it just modern enough, but I still imagine Mrs. Charles Dana Gibson might swish though this room at any moment.  Source
Neutrals don't have to be boring, and blue can be nautical without being overly themed! I like the seascape and starfish. Source
Imagine this room with white paint. Nice, but nothing special, right? Every single
item pops so beautifully against that powerful blue-black paint. Source
The poisonous green of that throw! The crisply bold stripes against the neutral chaise!
The cheerful art juxtaposed with that dangerously dark blue paint! I'm in love.
This looks like the perfect place to curl up and read Rappaccini's Daughter, but get this--it's a nursery.
This woman is a design genius, and her entire home is this awesome. Go read her blog now.  Source
Why, you might ask, am I inclined to hibernate? Well... It's been an interesting week.

Friday, November 23, 2012

DIY Pom Pom Cluster Ornaments à la West Elm

Are you ready to begin your Christmas crafting? Me, too! As part of my ongoing quest to recreate West Elm's holiday collection (see here and here), I spent Thanksgiving Day making my own version of West Elm's pom pom cluster ornament. I'm pleased to report that it was lots of fun, easy enough for kids to make, and extremely cheap.

If you're looking for fun diy ways to trim your tree and gifts this holiday season, try this project! It's a great way to clean out your yarn stash, and it's so mindless that you can make these while you watch Love Actually for the thirty-seventh time. I like that it has a softer, less tight and structured look than the West Elm ornaments. If you're not into diy but you love the look, buy them from Lauren at Old Red Boots' etsy shop, The Bomb Pom! Lauren offers seven color choices, and I think she makes a bigger, better pom than West Elm.

One big ball of yarn ($3.49)
Brown craft twine ($1.00)

Start by making a big handful of yarn pom poms using the fork method. Eskimimi's tutorial is perfect; I recommend using it.
Follow her instructions exactly, except tie your pom poms together using an 8 inch long piece of yarn, and don't cut the tails off of it

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Nashville Scarf in Natural Fisherman's Wool

I finished knitting and blocked my first scarf on Monday night! It started as a huge mess, but I love the way it turned out. I knew nothing about knitting when I started last month. I taught myself to knit and purl from a book, misunderstood the meaning of "knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches" in a bad way, frogged the whole thing, switched to smaller needles, and started over to create the INSANELY HUGE 13 FOOT LONG* scarf you see here. Go big or go home, y'all!

Yes, it's really over 12 feet long and less than 3 inches wide. Why? BECAUSE I CAN!
Pattern: Ravelry Scrunchable Scarf, with my own modifications

When I lived in Los Angeles, I saw a woman wearing a long, skinny scarf looped loosely around her neck at least three times, with the ends dangling near her knees. I never forgot how dramatically chic she looked in just jeans, riding boots, a simple long-sleeve tee, and that scarf. The scarf created a long vertical line that drew the eye up and down, making her look impossibly tall and lean. I'm not exactly statuesque, so I've wanted a scarf just like it for years. But I couldn't find one that didn't feel cheap or cost more than my phone bill. I didn't exactly become a librarian for the money. So I decided to make my own! I knitted it up in a neutral color so I can dress it up with brooches and wear it with everything.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Librarian Fancy Anniversary Award Time

A lot can happen in five years time. Five years ago when I began working at my library, I had no idea how attached I'd become to it and the people there. But now I can't imagine working anywhere else! Tonight I'm attending the annual city employees' banquet and receiving a plaque for five years of service. I've never worked at another place this long, and being honored makes me feel FANCY. Almost as fancy as the Strahov Monastery Library in Prague.

Once I sat in one of those hard little blue chairs. It was possibly the pinnacle of
my academic career. And yes... it REALLY looks like that in person! Source 

I like my life! My whole library is great; I can do anything good. Yeah! 
Have a good weekend, y'all, and go use your library cards.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Coney Island, Cloche Hats, and Vintage Romance: Lonesome by Paul Fejos

Lonesome, a (mostly) silent film made in 1928 by Paul Fejos, was released in August by The Criterion Collection. I watched it last weekend, and I was delighted by its charmingly simple story, bustling action shots of 1920s New York, and Barbara Kent's adorably round face and sweetly sparkling eyes. Modern attention spans are shorter, acting styles have changed, and current standards of beauty are very different, but the sense of feeling lonely in a crowd is timeless.

Made at a time when colored film tinting and "talkies" were just coming in vogue, Lonesome occasionally employs these effects with varying degrees of success. The overwrought dialogue in the talking scenes is silly, but the dreamily tinted Coney Island scenes are beautiful. But I'm getting ahead of  myself! The movie begins with long introductions to the main characters, Mary and Jim. They each rise in the morning, get ready for the day, endure their commutes, and spend a day at work. We learn that they both live alone in New York City, and though city life is fast-paced, their routines are dull. They're both lonely and long to meet someone special.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thoughts on Marriage, Feminism, Ambivalence, Hopin', Wishin', and using "Dusty Springfield" as a Verb.

A colleague loudly asked me at a staff meeting, "So, did y'all get engaged on vacation?" 

Cue a long, painful silence while my boss and colleagues stare at me.

When I said no, another person interjected, "Wait, what? You two didn't get engaged?" All eyes were on me, and I felt so embarrassed, as if coming back from Curaçao un-affianced meant that something was wrong with me. After the meeting, I pondered my reaction. Why should that question make me feel so uncomfortable?
The Bride Game, circa 1971. Object of the game: Collect a matching set of bridal gear,
and walk down the aisle before all the other girls. I'm throwing up in my mouth a little.
I mean, women don't need to marry anymore to be happy. We can earn our own money, travel, earn advanced degrees, buy property, and have exciting careers and fulfilling friendships, no husband required. When we do meet a man we like, we can make the first move, if we feel like it. And if it turns into a relationship, we can expect an equal partnership. And that's the problem. 

Wait, what? Just keep reading! We establish these awesome relationships where we can state our needs, we have space to pursue our own goals, we function as equal partners, and everything is great... until it's so great that we want to get married. Because at that point, the dynamic shifts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Etsy Artist Spotlight: Elaina Louise Studios

A while back I mentioned a beautiful hot air balloon necklace by Elaina Louise Studios that caught my eye. I'm glad to announce that they're now offering more hot air balloon jewelry, along with many other new beautiful baubles. I love that their jewelry subtly suggests steampunk, pirate, fairy, and classic art motifs without looking like over the top novelty items. At first glance, you see a cool pendant. Look closer, and you realize you're looking at a tiny Da Vinci sketch encased in glass! And the warm copper metal they use on so many of their pieces is so pretty for fall. Right now, ElainaLouise Studios is kindly offering Librarian Tells All readers free shipping--just use the code ELSFREESHIP when you place your order.

Alexandrite teardrop earrings. That gorgeous antique industrial metalwork makes these so special.
WHERE AM I? Wire wrapped compass pendant
Black Pearl Teardrop Earrings with Orange Glass. It's Girl with a Pearl Earring, grunge style?
Charm Necklace with Labradorite, Leaves, and a Black Pearl - ERMAGHERD I love labradorite!
Amber Glass Hot Air Balloon Earrings. Up, up, and away!

Turquoise earrings with copper filagree - If vintage globes jumped off your bookshelf and onto your ears, AMIRITE?

"We wants it, we needs it.
Must have the precious!"

Friday, November 9, 2012

Original Watercolor Art by Lauren at Laurendy Home

Today I want to share the beautiful watercolor art I recently received from Lauren at Laurendy Home. Lauren's home decor blog is full of young, fresh, fun ideas that are actually affordable. You should go read her blog right now! When Lauren generously offered to give away a custom watercolor painting of any subject the winner liked, I crossed my fingers and held my breath.

When she told me I won, I was thrilled! I think she was a bit underwhelmed when I asked for a portrait of Gary Oldman as Dracula, but at least she was relieved that I wanted handsome Dracula instead of icky monster Dracula. Ha! Lauren was a good sport, though, and she humored me. I'm so glad she did, because I love her Gary Oldman painting almost as much as I love Gary Oldman himself. Which is a huge feat.

Lauren wasn't satisfied, though, so she threw in a surprise painting of me and Keith as a bonus gift in case I didn't like the way the first painting turned out. I wasn't expecting this at all, and when I opened it I cried a little! Isn't she talented? Don't you want to commission a painting from her right now? Well, you can! Send her an e-mail and a brightly lit inspiration photo, and let this woman work her magic.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Live Here: Black, White and Blue Bathroom with Butterflies. And Gary Oldman.

When I bought my place, my goal was to create a relaxing, spalike bathroom with a modern-reimagines-vintage look and minimal clutter. This is definitely the room I've done the most work on in the last five years! Originally it had white walls, sadly stained white square tile in the shower, and a gross, warped, slightly squishy hardwood floor. Who puts hardwood flooring in a bathroom?! I put in a black granite floor with a white marble threshold at the entrance, shiny white subway tile with subtle black trim, and a new toilet. Oh, and I painted the room blue. GO ME! I totally love it now.

Since my bathroom is practically the size of a phone booth, these are my rules:
1. Use closed storage. I know open cabinets are trendy, but I don't think grooming products make a pleasant display. I definitely don't want to go all OCD and arrange my hair stuff and skin potions on a shelf and, like, put the Listerine in a crystal carafe. I want to chuck 'em in the medicine cabinet after I get ready and go to work!
2. MINIMALISM. MINIMALISM. MINIMALISM. I don't know how some women can afford 17 shampoos and 9 skin primers and 60 bazillion lip glosses! Seriously, how do y'all pay the phone bill? And where do you put it all?! I'd rather buy less stuff, deal with fewer things in the bathroom, and have more money to do other things.
3. Have a picture of Gary Oldman in the bathroom at all times. Just because. This is by far the most important rule.

You're lurkin' my stuff and you like what you see? Here are sources:
Medicine Cabinet - Target
Bath Mat - World Market

I made some good choices, and I made some bad choices.

A word about grout: I'm glad we used gray grout on the subway tile.
It makes the shape and size of the tile slightly more prominent.

A word about black granite flooring: IT ALWAYS LOOKS DIRTY. If you have a live-in housekeeper and wear
the Hope diamond on your pinky, then go for it. But next time, I'll choose something more low-maintenance.
However, I LOVE the marble threshold. Now I want one at the entrance to every room!
This concludes our admittedly weird episode of Lurk Jen's Bathroom.
What do you like about your own bathroom? What would you change?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DIY Paint by Number: Botticelli's Flora

Last night I finished the last of my three paint by number mini-portraits of the ladies from Sandro Botticelli's Primavera mural. Say hello to Flora! I took a lot of creative liberties, and painting her eyes nearly drove me crazy, but I like her. Doesn't she look like Uma Thurman? I hung the trio near my kitchen table, and they're the first thing I see when I come home.

I'm beginning to realize that this technique yields portraits very similar to American Primitive art. When I was a kid, my mother collected American Primitive portraits of children--the cruder and creepier, the better. Dad hated them, but I loved them, and I remember helping her hunt them down in antique stores when I was small. Her fondness for these oddly flat-faced images definitely rubbed off on me.

Want to paint your own version of Flora? Click for instructions and a free paint by number template...
and to see some hilariously bad early versions of this painting. We're talking monkey Jesus bad.

Supply List:
one 8 by 8 inch pre-primed canvas
carbon paper, one colored pencil, tape, and scissors

a few small paintbrushes
acrylic paint in black, white, red, green, pale blue, Caucasian flesh tone, and various browns and beiges

1. Save these images and print them on standard-size printer paper. Choose the "full page photo" setting, and DO NOT check the box that says "Fit picture to frame." You want two nice, large 8 by 8 inch square images. 

2. Trim the excess paper from the black and white image so you have a perfect square.

3. Tape the carbon paper securely to your canvas, carbon-side down. Make absolutely sure the black carbon side is down; otherwise the image won't transfer. Yes, I once traced an entire painting with the wrong side down, and it's infuriating. Tape the black and white image over the carbon paper, so the image stays securely in place.

4. Use the colored pencil to trace over ALL the lines on the black and white image. Why use colored pencil? Then you can easily see what you've already traced. This part takes about 20 minutes, and it's tedious relaxing.

5. Gently loosen the tape and remove the black and white image and the carbon paper. Your canvas should now look like this. Yay! It looks cool but kind of weird, right? Don't worry! Just keep going.

This is what happens when ladies and topographic maps become one.
6. Paint! I like to start with the skin, then paint the facial features, and work outward toward the edges. Feel free to change the details of the painting as you like. I changed the details a lot to make it look the way I wanted: I changed the color of Flora's collar to give it more definition, gave her a wreath of greenery in her hair, added light contrasting curls to her hair, and removed the stuff at the bottom left of the painting because I thought it just cluttered things up. 

I did these cartoonishly bad things things to her face in the name of glamour. 
But um... NO. I ended up painting her features just as the template dictated.

Feel free to use this template for personal use and modify it however you like, but please don't use it for commercial projects. If you do try this project, send me a picture! I'd love to see your finished painting and link up to your blog.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Beastly iBride Animal Portrait Trays

On Saturday, Keith and I popped into a boutique called Kore because we were both fascinated by the strange and beautiful animal portraits we saw in the window. The moment we walked in, all my stress melted out of me. I felt deliciously calm--the place was magical! We spent a wonderful half hour chatting with the owner, Jenelle Hynes, and browsing her carefully curated collection of natural skincare products, hand-knitted goods, locally made jewelry, and unusual home decor items. Keith chose a bottle of Whiskey scented aftershave and treated me to a pair of sparkly handmade earrings by RINjuel. We were a bit shocked by the prices on those weirdly wonderful animal portraits, made in France by iBride, but they're definitely going on our Christmas lists. What do you think of them?
Ao-Chin the King Dragon

Bianca the Governess

Berenice the Zebra Lady
Cornelius the Monkey Gentleman

Bel Ami Bookcase

If you like them, be sure to visit Kore. 
According to iBride's website, Kore is the only iBride dealer in Tennessee!