Apr
14
2015
The Design Confidential A Dell-iriously Easy Way to Keep Track of Digital Online Photos

If you don't happen to be a blogger or photographer or anything in a similar line of work, it might truly be a bit hard to fully explain the sheer number of images those of us in these professions take in a given week or month. Don't even get me started on how this number multiplies over the course of a year, let alone several. It's staggering. But if you happen to be a parent, then you get a very sincere taste of this because you very likely take meellions of pictures of your babes, and I guarantee those pictures, over time, have gotten smeared all over the place between social media postings, computers that croak, and however many phones you have worked your way through during the last 5 or 10 years.

The Design Confidential A Dell-iriously Easy Way to Keep Track of Online Photos

Some of your photos are on Facebook, hundreds of your favorites are on Instagram, and maybe you even store or back up your images to an online site like flikr, icloud, photobucket, etc. One thing I can say for certain is that no one I have ever known does not have digital photos in more than one place. And not generally in the I'm so smart I have backups of my backups kind of way, but the normal my last 3 phones croaked and then I found Instagram, meanwhile my family is on FB so I can't deprive those people of my children over there... and voila... pictures scattered across miles upon end of digital wilderness.

The Design Confidential A Dell-iriously Easy Way to Keep Track of Online Photos

When the cool folks over at Intel sent me a Dell Venue to check out, I think one of the things I was most excited about was discovering that this cute and ultra thin (the world's thinnest) Intel Tablet has a nifty little gallery app that links all of your various accounts from all around the digital world and instantly makes them accessible in one single spot. Genius - problem solved. I definitely feel a lot less guilty about having my older boy's baby pictures so digitally spread out.  I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see all of the images I lost long ago due to tech croakage (totally a word) but that I posted to social media or were sent to me via dropbox, are now just as easy to find and access as my latest design project images. Those past years of digitally irresponsible image storing weigh on me and I feel that mom guilt over not having backups of my backups and often for having lost them altogether. Do you experience this?

The Design Confidential A Dell-iriously Easy Way to Keep Track of Online Photos

This nifty feature helps put my anxious mind at ease and makes it so much easier to access my images for sharing on this blog and for sharing with friends and family. Now if it can physically force me to make yearbooks for the past several years, we will seriously be in business. The gallery app places your images in timeline order and you can view by the date the image was taken, but I am a little bit more excited for the mapped version of my timeline, than a normal person probably should be. It essentially groups your images by location and shows you a visual of where your memories took place. I don't currently have all of my pictures geo-tagged, but suddenly I want them to be so I can see how they spread across the country for the last several years of my life. I definitely want to at least be sure to add the locations for some of the more special albums I have on FB because... I don't know why... but I do! This app will also pull in images that your friends have posted that you are tagged in. That is just the most fabulous thing ever.

The Design Confidential A Dell-iriously Easy Way to Keep Track of Online Photos

How far do your pictures stray? How many images have you lost from digital deaths? Don't you think this type of gallery gathering app is so helpful? No more jumping from social media site to social media site to round up your faves, just sort your timeline however you wish and enjoy... love that. The Intel RealSense technology can do some amazing things and I can't wait to share them with you! I gave this baby a tech test drive for one of my recent projects and some of the tasks this tablet helped me accomplish, with the mere flick of a finger, are mind blowing and really simplify things for me. I know you will think so too, especially if you build like we occasionally do around these parts! Stay tuned for more details...

#spon: I'm required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel. This could include the Intel Corporation providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

 

 

Apr
07
2015
The Design Confidential Bi-Coastal Getaway Central California Coast and Cambria

I mentioned our little family vacay and break from reality last week and today I thought I would share a bit more of our travels with you. It's always interesting when you travel with young kids and the road ahead is never an easy one especially when you are traveling by car. If you happen to be traveling a road paved with ocean views, well then all the better to suffer the rest with. We were planning to head down to Southern California for a few days and hit some of our favorite kid-centric theme parks and the beach. At the last minute we decided to break up our long drive down by stopping half way to stay in a coastal town near Hearst Castle. It's been a dream of mine to walk the grounds of that massive compound filled with historic architectural goodness and I am happy to report I got to do precisely that!

The Design Confidential Bi-Coastal Getaway Central California Coast and Cambria

It takes nearly 5 hours to travel from my neck of the woods to Cambria, which lies south of Monterey along the coast. For those of you who have ever enjoyed the company of a toddler on a long car ride, you know how precious those calm moments can be when they are sleeping for any portion of the drive. The Bird, is not the greatest of travelers, and can exhaust even the most experienced of child wranglers in a matter of minutes. I kid you not. I count myself lucky that we had 45 minutes of absolute peace and quiet with his short little nod off, and I managed to capture the moment on film as it so rarely happens. Pure bliss... and hey, as it turns out, proof of my existence, which also rarely happens, since I'm virtually always behind the camera. Perhaps I should turn that camera around in selfie mode more often... probably not though. Not precisely my style. But who knows, life is full of surprises, eh?

The Design Confidential Bi-Coastal Getaway Central California Coast and Cambria

We only stayed one night in this most adorable little town of Cambria, but I will cherish the couple of days we spent there, forever. As luck would have it, the only hotel room we could find at the very last minute was right on the ocean. It was terrible and I hated every second of it. Obviously I'm kidding.

It was ridiculous and mind blowing and I didn't waste one second of my time there - soaking in the views and enjoying the local fare.

The Design Confidential Bi-Coastal Getaway Central California Coast and Cambria

We spend quite a bit of time hitting the beaches of Lake Tahoe in the summertime, and Penn seems to remember how fond of playing in the sand he is. He was asking about the beach for days prior to our trip and neither of these babes could wait a single minute to get their toes in the sand... or their shovels... and of course their buckets. Blake is pretty consistently on a mission to build and create great and amazing structures in the sand, while Penn is constantly out to destroy. It isn't exactly a match made in beachy heaven for those two but they still manage get more sand in their ears and eyes than you can imagine and they always enjoy every second of it.

The Design Confidential Bi-Coastal Getaway Central California Coast and Cambria

Even the restaurant next to our hotel had amazing views and was right on the ocean. I've decided I think it makes the food taste just a bit better, but the food was pretty spectacular all on it's own. 

We watched the sun set while we walked along the path above the water and it was breathtaking. I could watch the waves forever, it's absolutely mesmerizing to me, and this particular place was more beautiful than I can capture with my camera.

The Design Confidential Bi-Coastal Getaway Central California Coast and Cambria

If you follow along with me on Instagram then you might already know that we had breakfast at the most delicious bakery that happened to have gluten free muffins. As a gal who can't have gluten without some fairly upsetting consequences, I can't tell you how wonderful it is to get to eat a muffin. It was absolutely divine. I wish the remainder of our trip was as carefree and wonderful as the beginning was, but we can't have everything in life, now can we. It was all still magical because it was the first real vacation we have ever taken as a family, sadly. We manage to sneak in some trips here and there when the mister and I have conferences or work related events, but this was purely vacation which made it extra-special. I think my mind is still sitting on the beach somewhere and it is taking me much longer to jump back in to work life than I expected.

PLACES OF NOTE //

Cambria Landing Inn + Suites

Moonstone Beach Bar + Grill

Linn's Restaurant

If you have a chance to explore a bit of the Central California Coast, I highly recommend making a stop in Cambria. It was splendid.

Kiddos 
Mar
31
2015
The Design Confidential On Holiday in 2015

The TDC Clan is officially on holiday for the remainder of the week! I will be posting intermittently through the week and weekend, but it will certainly be limited as I plan to thoroughly soak up some sunshine with my little family. This was the view from the balcony of our room on the first night of our travels. I mean... it was pretty spectacular and I am not sure I have ever been quite so spoiled in my entire life. Alas we were only there for one night, but I hope to go back in the very near future. I will be sharing more of our adventures on Instagram, so be sure to follow along for moderately real time updates of my gorgeous surroundings and cute pictures of my babes. If we are lucky there may even be a picture or two of me, but since I am typically behind the camera there is rarely any proof of my existence.

Kiddos 
Mar
18
2015

If you have been with me here at TDC for a bit and you remember one of my recent room reveals, you might also notice a new addition has popped up in the kitchen to family room view corridor. I am pretty excited about these gems, but in truth they didn't come easily and I had to punch the clock a bit on this project to actually make it work.

A few weeks ago I gathered up my little family and we headed east to the Alameda Point Antique Faire. Which by the way is hands down one of the best (if not the absolute best) vintage markets out there for us folks in Northern California. I never leave empty handed and this particular trip was especially good to me, seeing as I found the makings of a new set of much needed bar stools.

You see, shortly after we moved into this house I purchased bar stools and it was a happy day indeed given the prominence of my kitchen island and how much time we were likely to spend gathered around it. I searched for hours to find an option that was affordable (real people affordable, not crazy designer affordable), easy to wipe down for the kids, adjustable to counter height, and comfortable. In my mind, comfortable meant that it would be cushiony, had arms, and could swivel. Since the stools would sit between the kitchen and family room, being able to turn between the two spaces would be good. Little did I know that the adjustable factor would ultimately clash with the arms and the swivel factor and both the bar stools and my kitchen island would suffer dearly for it.

You can see a few of the wounds from the counter and the arms fighting like mad, and neither came out ahead, trust me on that. Sadly this is one of the better arm covers in the bunch and many of the other covers were lost within a couple of months. Every single day of living with these derelict stools made me sad and the damn chairs ultimately weren't even comfortable. They were almost comfortable and probably would have been, except the seat was too short and too upright. If the seat had 2 to 3 extra inches and the back sat at a slight angle, say at 95 or 100 degrees from the seat, these would have been superb. Instead they hit at a weird spot on the back of adult legs and so a person could only sit in them for short periods of time. Very unfortunate and so very sad.

But then one fine day, I carted my cute boys all the way to the bay and plied them with amazing food and endless hours on tablets to get them to agree to come along for the ride. And I stumbled upon four bar stools which were a vision of perfection with nary a flaw to be found... except a bit of dirt and rust on the stands. Then came the task of trying to stuff them in the car with both boys, the stroller, and another 4 chairs I nabbed, which I will share more about later... and I will be honest, it was touch and go there for a minute. I wasn't sure we were going to get everything to fit, but we did by some miracle of the vintage furniture gods.

It was a bit of a full house on the trip home, for sure, but these babes of mine were all smiles, shockingly. That is more than I can say for how they were feeling while we were still at the antique faire...

And I brought these bar stools in and put them back together faster than you can blink an eye... only to find that they were too high, ugh. It wasn't as if I was expecting to find bar stools and I definitely wasn't seeking them out or I might have been smart enough to remember to measure before I left - but of course I didn't.

Totally deflated and not entirely sure how to fix them, they sat there for a couple days looking all cushy with their back rests that cradle you as you sit, and nice deep seats with a ton of comfort... just begging me to hang out and stay a while. Insert sad face. Then it occurred to me that I had 4 stools that I happen to be hating on, but that happen to have bases that are not only the right height but also adjustable - you know, for the kids - and it just so happens that the way the stools attach to the seat was similar! I can't tell you how relieved I was to figure this out.

I used the new base to mark out where I need to secure it to the seat and traced the screw holes for reference. I made sure to stay away from the existing attachment locations so as to keep it from weakening over time.

To secure the base I used self tapping screws that were the same length as the screws for the existing base and I used the washers that were used on my old bar stools (the soon to be new base) to keep the screw heads from falling out of the screw holes.

I gave that sucker a test drive and it worked and fit beautifully. Oh what a relief it was...

I'm happy to report the new bases are now all nicely secured in all their adjustable counter height glory! And bonus... no rust or dirt to deal with! Yahoo.

Mar
12
2015
The Design Confidential Room Envy California Dreamin + 5 Things Nursery Design

This nursery is the epitome of California design. Throw in some over sized agave and a few hanging plants and you have yourself a true California Dream. Light, Bright and Airy this room makes me think the people who live here are laid back and barefoot much of the time, yet entirely worldly and well traveled. It must be so peaceful here, and quiet. Doesn't it seem quiet to you? It isn't often a room speaks to the sound that emanates from the space, but this one is speaking volumes to me at the moment. It would certainly be funny to find out that it is in fact wild, loud, and rambunctious in this home, in real life. Somehow I think not... but perhaps it's all just wishful thinking on my part.

5 THINGS // Interesting tidbits and a few of my own California Dreams

One // I am currently sporting a pretty amazing infection and it is sucking the life force out of me. It is unusual for me to be tired during the day, pretty much ever, but it is taking all I have to function like a human even just a little. Ugh.

Two // I am never working on less than 4 projects at a time, and at any given moment, at least one of those projects involves seating. Chairs are quickly becoming my kryptonite - and I have no less than 12 in my 'workshop' this very minute.

Three // It is my dream to design products and I am going to be putting a bit of my time and energy into this aspect of my career for this year. Who knows where this will lead, and maybe nowhere at all, but I think it's important to pursue what makes us unbelievably ridiculously happy whenever the chance presents itself.

The Design Confidential Room Envy California Dreamin + 5 Things Nursery Design

Four // My older boy Blake is equal parts easily embarrassed and completely shy at first encounter. On the flip side he is utterly social and outgoing once he has a good grasp on things, so to speak. But I can't even truly put words how completely out of left field it was to see him, for the second time in a year, dance his little heart out in front of the entire school and all of the parents during their class performance. This is the kid who refused to wear his Halloween costume several years in a row, for sheer embarrassment, and most definitely would not wear the outfit all of his classmates wore during their preschool performance (only a year prior to his first dance performance I speak of here). The whole things was so unusual in fact, that during his performance last year, the mister and I both sat there with our mouths hanging open in complete shock and awe. I think you can hear our exclamations on the video and strangely the camera started to droop and film the back of the chair in front of us. I blame the shock. Who is that child, I have never met him before. He just owned that stage... so weird - perhaps it was a fluke - but no, he just did it again, for the second year in a row. But according to him he hates dance and wouldn't even dream of taking dance lessons? I can attest to the fact that he can jokingly twerk better than most of the housewives and they are actually trying. I don't know where he learns this stuff... ?

Five // I would like to collaborate with some interesting folks in an adjacent industry this year. Food, fashion, photography, maybe graphic designers... not entire sure how this would go down or what it would even be, but I know for sure that I am completely inspired by so many amazing artists and creatives out there and I truly believe it helps us as creatives when we push our boundaries and step outside of the norm. To be immersed in another world for a bit is good for the soul.

To catch up and read through past Room Envy articles, click here! I am certain you will learn something odd / interesting / funny about little old me that you didn't know before!

Via Domaine Home / Design by Amber Interiors

Living 
Mar
09
2015
The Design Confidential In the Garden Adding Year Round Color and Interest

In the sea of beige that is my yard each winter, I have been desperate to make some changes that will bring year round color and interest to this space. I'm guessing I'm not alone in my dislike of this baren stretch of time, where the leaves have fallen and everything looks dreary, because I have been noticing quite a few new plant varieties pop up in the garden centers around town, that aim to solve for this. I am determined to add varieties of trees, shrubs and plants to my yard that are evergreen, whenever possible, so that my privacy screen doesn't dissapear each winter and my beautiful yard doesn't look dead and dormant.  Imagine my joy at finding some of my faves offered in an evergreen variety! To have my plants be green all year round no longer means I must go without flowering, vining, and beautiful varieties and I am no longer resigned to alternate between the different colors of shrub to gain that interest I am seeking in my landscape. 

The Design Confidential In the Garden Adding Year Round Color and Interest

Many of the plants are now also water-wise, even more hardy and able to withstand full sun as well as those colder temps in the winter. For our climate this opens up our options quite a bit since it doesn't snow here in the winter but we occasionally get frost and this obliterates a great many of my flowering, sensitive beauties each year... hibiscus - I'm looking at you doll.

Because I want it all and I don't want to sacrifice anything in order to have what I want.

So I have set out to tackle each area of my yard, little by little. Most of my yard has extreme heat and sun to contend with, but my courtyard has 2 planters that get a bit of shade and naturally I am over the moon about having this little slice where I get to plant the good stuff. Seems like most of the lush and beautiful things I love most, don't prefer to bake at 105 degrees from sun up till sun down, for several months of the year - go figure...

The Design Confidential In the Garden Adding Year Round Color and Interest

This is what I started with... it was wild and unruly after an irrigation leak and subsequent repair, an entire tree worth of fallen leaves, weeds, and all that beige.

THE PLANNING PROCESS // 

// When I plan my plantings, I like to have each section stand on it's own while it remains part of the greater whole, so I try to infuse each individual area with it's own mixture of color, texture and type.

// I will generally carry the design vertically in addition to adding interest at ground level so for each section I go for a nice high / low mix - which in this case has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with location, location, location.

// I tend to choose a contrasting mix of colors to give each area the most bang for it's buck. My tendency is to work with foliage in shades of burgundy, dark green, variegated yellow green, and a pale silvery sage.

// I also mix texture and foliage type and find that a nice mix of large and leafy, grassy or blade-like, and soft and delicate leaves to be most appealing to me.

// I think each section should have it's showstopper, for me this is usually some spectacular variety of flowering beauty or an extremely unique plant type that commands attention in some way, shape, or form.

The Design Confidential In the Garden Adding Year Round Color and Interest

To deal with that beige wall that is so prominent and to hide the drain I chose a vining, dark leaved, evergreen clematis to live in this vertical space and bring an organic feel to it with it's wild growth pattern. I did a serious little happy dance at the nursery when I found that baby since all of my other vining plants lose their leaves in the winter. I chose two variegated winter daphne that will grow to a substantial mid range height of around 4 feet by 4 feet and will provide a gorgeous back drop for the double peony I chose to make my showstopper.

I will generally lay them out to get a sense of placement and so I can set up the drip line and keep everything watered properly once I forget about them all.

The Design Confidential In the Garden Adding Year Round Color and Interest

I often mix the leaves right into the soil to ammend it and give it some good organic matter and I did that here during the planting process. I will generally just turn the soil all throughout an area I'm planting and turn any of the decomposing leaves and mulch right into the mix. This is particularly helpful when your soil isn't grade A top soil with tons of nutrients and replacing all or most of your existing top soil isn't quite in the budget. I raked aside a decent amount of the remaining organic matter and I will use it to ammend the soil in another more derelict portion of my yard that currently does a pretty good job of suffocating my plants, it is becoming dire.

The Design Confidential In the Garden Adding Year Round Color and Interest

All that is left is some additional cleanup and a good solid layer of mulch to keep the girls happy, and then I can move on to the next spot! 

So tell me, how does your garden grow? Do you like a wild organic mix with lots of contrast or do you like a minimal and calming design? What are some of your favorite plants to add to your landscape? I'm very much still learning what works best here and what the elements will croak on contact, so I would love to hear your tips and tricks.

This project was created in partnership with Monrovia, the Horticultural Craftsmen who are creating these amazing hybrids I love so much. Thank you all for supporting the brands that help bring new and fresh content to The Design Confidential... my no longer dreary spot in the courtyard thanks you!

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