Twig Terrariums: Life in Miniature

Okay, I’ve always loved terrariums, mainly because they are a way for me to keep plants in my house without my cats chewing them up. But when I came across these creations from Twig Terrariums, I was laughing out loud. Or completely in awe. Sometimes both. The wonderfully creative people over at Twig (I’ve never met them, but it’s obvious they are both wonderful and creative) use terrariums to tell stories. Some of the stories are sad (a woman crying in a cemetery), some are comical (a man being chased by two mean-looking dinosaurs), and others are pure joy (a top-hatted groom carrying his bride). Many are just observations of everyday life, like of the lady hanging clothes on the line to dry. I don’t know what it is, but seeing these Lilliputians living their tiny lives among real plants, dirt and moss makes me happy. Maybe it’s like Twig’s motto says: these terrariums are “easily contained, easily maintained, life.” Who wouldn’t want that?

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Dreamy master bedroom

My master bedroom is my favorite room in the house, not only because it is DONE (no more tweaking required!), but also because it’s the one room that doesn’t contain a single pile of mail, stack of dishes, or computer lighting up begging for my attention. This room is my haven: purely for sleeping (and other activities not suitable for mention on a design blog).

In this space, I stuck to just the basics:

  • White wooden bed from Crate and Barrel (purchased about five years ago for $1200…similar to the current Durham)
  • Mahogany nightstands I scored for $150 each in a neighborhood consignment shop
  • Swing-arm wall lamps from Lamps Plus
  • Flax fabric canvases above the bed from West Elm

On the wall opposite the bed, a Hemnes dresser from Ikea holds bedding and linens. Such a great piece of furniture, and only $299. Of course, it comes in about 299 pieces you have to assemble, but in the end, worth the cursing and head scratching required to put it together. The painting above is from eBay, by an artist based in Burlingame, California. I love the combination of geometric and organic shapes and the colors are soothing…perfect for the bedroom.

The details of the bedroom are nods to my wedding day: a framed picture taken right after saying “I do,”  a heart-shaped Nambe dish we received as a wedding gift, a mirrored box that holds dried flowers from my bouquet, and a silk pillow that reads: “Grow Old Along with Me, the Best is Yet to Be.” These treasures give the room a romantic, sacred feel, and help remind me what’s really important before I nod off each night.


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Getting local: The best home boutiques in McKinney, Texas

I visited McKinney, Texas last weekend and was blown away by the number and quality of the interior design boutiques there. If you ever find yourself near this town with a few hours to spend, here’s your guide to its not-to-be-missed home design shops. I left at the end of the afternoon with a few fun purchases, loads of design ideas, and a renewed energy to finally decorate those last stubborn  rooms in my house.

Patina Green Home and Market (above) is unlike any shop I’ve seen. Visitors are greeted by casual windowsills of decorative cabbage planted in coffee cans and a pair of lovebird finches chirping “hello” as you step inside. Follow the long, narrow marble-topped table to order lunch: fresh, local foods (the menu rotates daily) and don’t forget a large glass of fresh-brewed tea ($2). Past the lunch counter you’ll find home furnishings and fixtures, many from natural materials used in creative ways (a carved, polished tree trunk turned sink basin, to name one example). Founded by dynamic duo Robert and Kaci (a chef  and interior designer, respectively), Patina Green is the spot to stop in McKinney for great food and design ideas.

Gray Living is a luxury design boutique that carries home accessories in natural, seaside materials, high-end furniture in neutral color schemes, deliciously scented candles, and some serious art for your walls. Like Patina Green, this shop is right on the town square. Beautifully merchandised and worth a trip in just to look at the home decor eye candy (even if you can’t afford it).

Smitten is full of colorful, fun accessories for home, garden, and wardrobe. I came away from this shop with a Two’s Company faux pearl necklace with magnifying glass pendant ($32). A steal for such a fun, chunky statement piece! Vintage jewelry, quality linens, and letterpress sold here too.

Petals & Vine Design carries eclectic, colorful finds for the home, and offers interior design services (“no job too small!” boasts a sign). A large variety of outdoor accessories, like tabletop garden torches and decorative planters, make this shop the perfect source for sprucing up your patio to enjoy the sunny weather.

If you like Sid Dickens Memory Blocks, definitely check out Ambrosia, which carries one of the biggest selections I’ve seen. The boutique also sells great gifts, clothing, and items for baby.

In terms of square footage, Uptown is one of the bigger boutiques in McKinney, offering plenty of room to explore the unique furniture, soft goods, and clothes (you’ll find both trendy and basic wardrobe pieces here). An indoor fountain surrounded by calladiums and topped with cherub statues gives this interior a zen-like feel, offering peaceful respite during a busy day of shopping.


Gray Living
113 N. Kentucky Street, Suite 102, McKinney
(972) 542-0033

118 E. Louisiana Street, McKinney
(972) 529-6994

Patina Green Home and Market
116 N. Tennessee Street, Suite 102, McKinney
(972) 548-9141

Petals & Vine Design
205 N Kentucky Street, McKinney
(214) 585-0600

201 E. Virginia Street, McKinney
(972) 548-3950

102 East Louisiana Street, McKinney
(972) 562-0303


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Getting local: The farmers market in McKinney, Texas

To market, to market we go! The Farmers Market at Chestnut Square in McKinney, Texas is bustling with townspeople, tourists, and treats.

Hubby and I headed out for a day trip to McKinney, Texas today. Memorial Day celebrations are in full effect in this quaint Texas town (named the #5 place to live in America by Money Magazine!). Spend ten minutes in this place and you start to fantasize about what it would be like to pick up and move there: well-kept Victorian and Arts-and-Crafts style homes on shady lots…posh boutiques and cafes surrounding a central town square…a small-town, out-in-the-country vibe yet only minutes away from all your city-slicker needs (living within a 10-mile radius of a Whole Foods is a must for me, and McKinney fits the bill).

The Texas Historic Commission designated McKinney as an official Urban Main Street City in 2003 and it does not disappoint. We started off in Chestnut Square Historic Village, a lovely shaded park surrounded by heritage homes that were built at the city’s founding over 150 years ago. Dixie’s Store offered a glimpse into the past, showcasing old gadgets and goods the shop sold when it opened in the late 1800s. Today, farmers had booths overflowing with local produce, bakers offered samples of their homemade sweets and fresh breads, and a live band busted out foot-stomping tunes that floated through the whole marketplace. We left the market with some homemade cilantro-cayenne infused linguine that I can’t wait to cook this week, as well as a gift for my mother-in-law: a quilted microwave bag that cooks potatoes to perfection in minutes.  Overall, a great day trip for the kids to hang out and explore old-timey buildings while adults shop for home goods and good eats.

And we spotted these little frog planters all over town, so I’m thinking they are some sort of McKinney mascot…

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Fossilized jewelry: the ultimate vintage accessory

One of the reasons I love browsing antiques and vintage clothing is because they have a story (even if it’s one I make up in my head). Take that sense of history and multiply it by about 25,000 years and you get Monique Pean jewelry: earrings, bracelets and rings made of extinct woolly mammoth tusk and other ancient, natural materials. Yes, the prices are exorbitant, but if I had the money I think I may splurge on a pair of her earrings…a small trinket to connect me to my cave-woman ancestors. Monique Pean jewelry can be found at select trunk shows across the country or at Barneys New York.

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Q&A with artist Narda Lebo

I recently discovered the gorgeous drawings of Narda Lebo, a talented illustrator who works from a refurbished barn in Dallas, Texas (so cool!). My favorite quality about Narda’s work is its vintage feel; her pieces look like they should be on display in a museum, touched only with white gloves or they might crumble and be lost forever.

Narda was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about her work:

Q: Narda, how did you get started as an illustrator?

A: I was drawing pictures since I was very little, but I really thought I wanted to be a doctor…long story short, I studied to be a medical illustrator.

Q: What is your favorite medium? Do you ever draw digitally or is all your work by hand?

A: All of my work is by hand and on paper. For the most part I draw and paint with watercolors and gouache, and sometimes build up a collection of things into collage.

Q: I love that you draw on what looks like old parchment paper, complete with wrinkles and torn edges. Where did you get this idea?

A: I love textures, old salvage from previous work, and the essence of time that old papers and books inherently hold. Also, I love anything that really shows that it is handmade. Sometimes I pick up something old that catches my eye and wonder ‘who touched this and what was their story?’ And, I love a good story, so that’s where my thought process begins.

Q: You incorporate Chinese lettering and stamps on some of your work for a beautiful layered effect. Do you have a connection to that culture?

A: My family is half Colombian and the other half Italian, so the eastern cultures are purely fascinating…I really don’t have any idea what some of the symbols are. Occasionally I find a cache of antique Japanese love stories, or something equally gorgeous…as in so much art, words are not as important as the context.

Q: Where is your favorite place to work? Do you have a sketchbook with you everywhere you go?

A: I work by myself in my studio, and become truly absorbed for long hours…when I’m out in my city I love to just see what going on around me. When traveling, my sketchbook is like another person, so I do sketch during those lonely moments.

Q: Where can we find your prints for purchase? Or do you only take on commission-based work?

A: Mostly, my work is commissioned, but I do have a huge amount of studio sketches, as well as prints that are being readied for sale. They will be available through a link on



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Swiss Avenue Home Tour favorites

My mom and I check out the Swiss Avenue Home Tour during Mother’s Day weekend every year. We both love old homes, beautiful gardens and antiques, and this event is a great chance to see the insides of the estates that I so often admire along my running route through the historical Swiss Avenue district.

The interior above is one of my favorites on this year’s tour. The homeowners spent a year and a half remodeling every square inch of their home, and each room features a mix of vintage and modern style. The colors in the master bedroom are spring perfect! Below are shots of the home’s living room (complete with zebra rug and original stained glass) and dining room (with fully set table):

My favorite kitchen on the tour is in a 1917 remodeled home on nearby Gaston Avenue. Moss green cabinets and modern appliances and fixtures are anchored by white hex tile on the floor. Light floods in from the French doors that open onto a beautiful deck and sitting area beyond.

On the Swiss Avenue Home Tour, there is always at least one or two original Rookwood tile fireplaces. My favorite one this year features a cattails and reeds motif and is topped with modern art and Roseville pottery on the mantel. Gorgeous! In another home (that is still undergoing a complete overhaul), fireplace mantels were shipped in from architectural salvage dealers in Pennsylvania and Alabama. So while not original to the house, the mantels are from the same time period that the home was built (1906). The owner picked out new Walker Zanger tile that she thought mirrored what the original may have looked like. I can’t wait to see this home completed on next year’s tour!

The Swiss Ave tour is not restricted to interiors; gardens are opened up to stroll through and enjoy. My fave backyard this year features a quaint potting shed, complete with farmhouse sink, brick floors, and green-tiled walls. The shed overlooks a raised vegetable garden. Someday, when my pocketbook is bigger and my thumb is greener, I’ll have a fabulous potting shed too!

The home I was most excited to go into (mainly because the landscaping out front is always immaculate everytime I jog by) owes its curb appeal to gorgeous English Manor / French Normandy-style architecture coupled with its creative spin on the classic formal English garden. Perfectly sculpted shrubs are planted asymmetrically alongside ornamental cabbage, mixing elements of structured and casual gardens. So imaginative!


Thanks to all of the talented home owners and designers for opening up their amazing houses to us through the Swiss Avenue Home Tour! See you next year!


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Pass the salt and pepper please

I have a mild obsession with salt and pepper shakers, so when I saw these I kind of flipped. Another big thanks to Anthropologie for bringing us such unique, vintage-inspired tableware.

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Stained glass kicks a@@

I adore stained glass. My parents were avid collectors and growing up I remember scouring antique marts and surplus stores for old pieces in good condition. We even started making our own. We set up a homemade lightbox and would score glass with a cutter, wrap the edges with copper foil, and use a soldering iron to melt and drip a coil of solder between the pieces to hold them together. Admittedly, mine were not of the highest craftsmanship (I was only 11, after all). But the process instilled in me a lasting appreciation. Stained glass brings sunlight, color, and artistic detail to otherwise plain walls or doors, and adds vintage character no matter what your style: shabby chic, arts and crafts, or modern.

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Spring cleaning = organized closet

One of the things I feel completely spoiled by in my house is the size of the master closet. The builders knew what they were doing when they alloted so many square feet to that space…that was one of the biggest selling points of the home. After a little spring cleaning the closet looks better than ever, with organized rows of clothes and shoes. (I admit it…I’m a neat freak!) Plus, I compiled a nice-sized pile of gently used stuff for Goodwill. Win-win!

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