the search for the perfect clear glass lamp

clear glass lamps

I refer to it as "the one that got away". Yes, I am talking about a lamp. My "missed connection" of the lighting world. Back in the fall of 2009, I was doing some usual browsing at Homegoods. That day, I made a great purchase and bought a chaise lounge on clearance for $250. That same day, I saw an amazing lamp. I photographed and sent it to Susie. She too loved it. I was faced with a dilemma: the lamp was $60, I was already spending $250. I did not buy it. To this day, I still regret not buying the lamp. It was perfect. Clear cylindrical glass base with a cork insert in the top of the glass and a linen drum shade. There something about having a clear lamp that just glows and emits just the right light.  I have since found anything that even compares. In my recent web search, I have found some that are nice, but way too expensive and still not as good. The above table lamps range from $40-$400, yet none are still quite right. And then I thought, could I make this? They sell DIY lamp kits. All I would need is some kind of glass cylinder, a cork piece for the top, and to buy a lamp kit and a shade. Hmmm, maybe I will add it to my "to make"  list. If anyone knows of a source for an affordable glass cylinder lamp or has experience making a lamp before, please, do tell me.

Until then, I will continue in my quest for the perfect clear glass lamp, and my quest for the perfect bloody mary. (Irrelevant? I think not)


olive loves: blogging about puppies to make up for lack of blog posts

Since I haven't blogged in nearly two weeks, I decided to play the puppy card.  I have been home in Cincinnati visiting my family, for my mother's birthday, and since I am lacking blog inspiration, I can only think to blog about my dog.  Many weeks, a striped rug, or a piece of vintage Pyrex can make my day; but this week, having returned to Providence, and being quite homesick, it is Lilie who I am thinking about the most.  And it is she who is the topic of this blog.

Meet my family's dog, Liliequist of the Berkshires, Lilie for short.  This photo was taken at my cousins' house in Connecticut during Thanksgiving 2007.  Lilie was just over 6 weeks old when we decided to surprise my parents with a puppy on this vacation. 

My dad: elated, my mom: not happy about forthcoming dog hair. 

My sister Jocelyn purchased Lilie in the Berkshire Mountain Region of Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she then lived and worked.  After the death of our Spring Spaniel, Stephanie, our family went two years dog free.  This was a strategic move; Stephanie was perhaps the dumbest (and cutest) dog you've ever met, and the idea of having another similarly behaved dog was not something to look forward to.  But after two years, something just didn't feel right.  Family walks were beginning to dwindle, and something needed to be done.  So we decided to give Lilie to my dad as a late birthday present.  She has since been the focus of our family's attention for three years.  And for a good reason.  She gets the paper every morning.  She retrieves her leash when she wants to go on a walk.  She doesn't bark at passing dogs.  She can recognized a USPS employee even outside of her own neighborhood, or state, and will approach said USPS worker to retrieve a treat.  Her list of tricks goes on and on.   And while I am always impressed with her intelligence, I am most fond of her loyalty and gentleness.  She is one of my best friends, she always greets me kindly, and is always sad to see me go.  So, for lack of a better post, I leave you with some photos of my American Lab, Lilie.

Lilie and Jocelyn playing frisbee on Washington and Lee Campus (Athletic Fields, Summer 2008).  Photo taken by Susie Keller.

 Lilie in Harbor Springs, Michigan, Summer 2008.  Photo taken by Susie Keller.

Lilie and her best Friend, Ralph, Winter 2009, Cincinnati, Ohio.  Photo taken by Susie Keller.

So, there you have it, I have used my puppy card, and I will now continue to blog regularly.  And since I mentioned Vintage Pyrex earlier in the post, I should let you know that I have acquired a rather special lemonade pitcher...to be blogged about in the near future when I can borrow my Lumix from work.

Missing my best friend, who just so happens to be my dog.


olive loves diy

DIY= Do it yourself.  My mom and I stumbled on a roadblock last week, when trying to hang my pots and pans in the new apartment.  I brought with me my old pot rack, which we quickly decided would not work.  Given that my place was built in 1809, the construction is plaster and lathe, or as some of you are more familiar, the kind of wall that crumbles when you try to nail into it.  Now, there are ways around this, and you can hang heavy things with ease by using screws, but we didn't want to chance it with a pot rack that gets used frequently.  So, here is what we divised out of these two things:

Copper water pipe that you can purchase at a hardware store, and the copper brackets that go along to anchor the pipe in place.  While taking the afternoon off to go down to Newport, my mom and I stopped in Home Depot on the way back to the apartment.  We had a nice employee help us cut the copper pipe there in the store to size.  For the hooks to hang the pans, he recommended garden "S" hooks.   Here is the result:

Not too shabby!  I have two windows in my kitchen, and they both now have the retrofitted, STURDY (since the screws are anchored in the wood casing of the window) pot rack!  Total cost for the pipe, brackets and "S" hooks was somewhere around $30.  The result looks fantastic, and I couldn't be more happy since we came up with it ourselves.  Actually, I should be thanking my mom, who for her entire life, has thought of creative DIY projects or solutions, this one specifically.  Thanks Mom! 

Do you have any DIY projects that you are proud of?  Please share!

I'm leaving you with a picture of spring.  This past weekend, All of the spring-time flowers bloomed around my yard.  It's such a beautiful sight!



simple pleasures

Lately I've been feeling a bit stressed about what my future holds. I wouldn't say I'm having a quater-life crisis quite yet, but it could be fast approaching. Anyways, to combat the stress, I try to think of the little things that keep me sane, happy, and positive. Some are materialistic,others are inspired by nature or the human connection. This is my (abridged) list.

  • Dunkin Donuts Vanilla Chai- I only get them about three times a year but they are just so delicious and make me incredibly happy.
  • 5:00 PM on Friday-freedom. Need I say more?
  • Putting on sweats after being dressed up-Instant relaxation
  • Finding money in your jeans you haven't worn in a month- perfect excuse to treat yourself to a coffee or ice cream
  • (1)-email or text from someone you love hearing from 
  • Sunset cocktails-is there anything better than winding down the day with a cold drink?
  • Handwritten notes, letters or cards- they are few and far between these days
  • Down comforter- for me, it's the ultimate luxury.
  • the smell of clean laundry -there's no better scent.
  • Playing in the waves- I still do it for hours when I go to beach. Growing up at the beach will do that to you.

What's on your list?



dreaming of a warmer climate

sand, sun, and seaI've had enough. I'm ready for summer. Grilling, fishing, swimming, bonfires, sundresses. This season is about four months out in Rhode Island, but I've been dreaming of it since the first snow. A free all-inclusive vacation would do for now. (If anyone can help me out with that, let me know). In the meantime, I guess I'll keep the daydreams alive of Second Beach, salty(blonder) hair, and endless waves. And plan my summer attire of course.

Hope the sun is shining, wherever you may be.

boston's beacon hill on lunch break

Yesterday's weather was absolutely gorgeous!  It was a balmy 65 degrees and sunny, and a welcome break from the horrendous rain and wind storms we suffered last weekend, and everyone in Boston seemed to make their way out-of-doors for a nice spring-time lunch break, including me.  My office is located in Back Bay, and I feel very blessed to be close to some of the nicer things Boston has to offer.  Along with a colleague, we headed towards Beacon Hill to enjoy the weather, and take some pictures of the fantastic architecture that graces this "hidden treasure" of Boston.  I say "hidden treasure" because Beacon Hill is a great place to escape during your lunch hour.  Many of the summer-time tourists don't make their way there (they're busy flocking towards Cheers or going on a Duck Tour), and it's calming and peaceful.  It's right in the middle of the city, but you'd never know it.  I've gone there many a time, and during the lunch hours, you mostly see just a smattering of  handymen, dog walkers, and the occasional delivery person.  Bear with me, as there were beautiful photo opportunities all around, so I just had to take a TON of pictures.  *Warning-this post may be extremely long-go grab a coffee now*  Here we go:

De Luca's Market, located on Charles Street, at the base of Beacon Hill.  This market is one of my favorites in Boston.  They always have the freshest produce and flowers in stands outside, and I envision this is where the wealthy folks of Beacon Hill go to pick up their sundries.  It's probably a good thing I didn't bring my wallet along, as there was a fine assortment of pussy-willow branches that would have most definitely made their way home with me on the commuter rail.  Doesn't this look a bit like Europe?

The doorways of Beacon Hill.  An entire post could be done on just the doorways alone.  There are doors of every color, shape and size on the Hill.  I think the doorways are fascinating because they differentiate each home or building.  So many of the Beacon Hill residences all look exactly alike-brick rowhouses, so the doorways lend a certain personality or uniqueness to the uniform look that describes Beacon Hill.  The red door pictured above made me smile-it was extremely tiny.  The door was sunk down into the sidewalk.  I also love how the bricks of the sidewalk are reflected in the brass kick-plate of the black door above.

Mansions on Beacon Hill.  I don't even WANT to know how much these homes cost.  I think it's so fascinating that they are so tall and narrow.  In big cities, the best way to accomodate more space was to build up.  I'm assuming that's why they were/are designed in this manner.

I think the alleyways of Beacon Hill are just as beautiful, if not more so, than the main streets.  The picture on the left is the back doorway to one of the mega-mansions, and I think it is absolutely charming.  Also in this picture is a windowbox.  It's a tad too early for flowers, and this home still had its winter decor in the box, but Beacon Hill has some of the most beautiful landscaping and gardens anywhere.  In fact, in the early summer months, they have a Beacon-Hill garden tour, open to the public (for a small fee) where some of the homes participate in garden tours.  I intend to go on this tour this year.  I'll be sure to take pictures.  :)  The picture on the right shows a cobble-stone driveway.  I fell in love with cobblestones when I spent my summers on Nantucket.  While they aren't the most convenient thing to walk or drive on, they are so historic.  Cobblestones were often used as ballasts on whaling ships to counteract the weight of the whale that was captured alongside the boat.  They used the cobbles to pave paths after the whaling industry ended.

If you're still reading, these are the last few photos I took while walking back to work.  Boston Public Garden is the most direct path to take to get to Beacon Hill from my office, and again, deserves a post all by itself.  In the garden, are the bronze duck statues of the book, Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey.  Usually, there are so many little children sitting on the ducks that you cannot get a good picture of them.  Yesterday, however, I was in luck!

This weekend is supposed to be beautiful.  If you live in New England, get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine!  According to the Farmer's Almanac, New England is supposed to have a warmer spring than normal, which means, we will actually have a spring!

Have a great weekend


top o' the mornin to ya!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! 

Ok, since I love history, here's a brief tidbit about what today means.  Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is a yearly holiday celebrated on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (circa AD 387–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. It began as a purely Catholic holiday and became an official feast day in the early 1600s. However, it has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Ireland's culture.

In 432, Saint Patrick was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to save the Irish, and indeed he was successful at this, focusing on converting royalty and aristocracy as well as the poor. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish people.

Originally the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. However, over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick's day grew.  Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century.  [excerpt taken from Wikipedia]

Some of the biggest Saint Patrick's Day celebrations here in the states are in Chicago, Illinois (my home state) and Boston-where I work now.  The Chicago River gets dyed a magnificent shade of green:

An old Irish Proverb:

Here's to the land of the Shamrock so green,

Here's to each Lad and his darlin Colleen,

Here's to the ones we love dearest and most,

May God bless ole Ireland, that's an Irish man's toast.

Start pinchin'


happy st. patrick's day

Although I don't have a drop of Irish blood in me, I did attend the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Southie (Boston) this past Sunday. Needless to say, I celebrated enough Sunday, so I think I'll take tonight off from being Irish, but I wanted to regognize the day regardless. I didn't get my corned beef sandwich however...I may need to search for one this evening.



hey, sew sister

 The designer modeling her creation

I come from a pretty creative and artistic family. Painters, crafters, architects, designers, gardeners, photographers, builders, and the latest from my generation, a seamstress. My older (middle) sister Emma has recently begun a hobby in sewing. We all took up sewing at one point as our mother used to sew a lot, she thought it would be a good skill to have. I took a class and made a dress(so ugly but I still have it) and went on to make pajama pants as Christmas gifts for all my friends. Grace claims to have sewed, but probably really just embroidered and patched some torn hippie jeans.

Emma has gotten a little more sophisticated in her skills as of late. For Christmas, she made us all flannel bathrobes. Taking advantage of living in Los Angeles, she has recently enrolled in a sewing class at Otis College of Art in Design in her very little free time. So far, she has made the above dress and canvas tote which is perfect for the beach just blocks away from her Santa Monica apartment. She also does projects at home and is working on another dress which is very much in progress, below.

fabric selection
  dress lining
final product (a head turning dress, is this why you picked it, Em?)

When I asked her what sparked her interest in sewing, she said  "I just was always telling people not to buy things and telling them that I could make that myself, and I really wanted to make things that I couldn't find in stores." A wise woman that Emma Gardner.Watch out for her clothing line/Etsy shop, right Em?

When are you going to make my dress? :)

color-coded bookshelves- do or don't?

So, I'm all moved in.  Whew.  What a process.  If it weren't for the help of some close friends and my mother flying out to help me settle in, I'd probably still be sleeping on a mattress on the floor.  Tonight, I'm thinking about arranging my books, and have been seeing this new fad of artfully arranging your books by color on the shelves.  What do you think of this idea?  Is it, "too perfect" or do you think this is a good way to jazz up a normally boring bookshelf?  Would love to hear feedback.  Let me give you a few examples: 

Thoughts about this?  Oh, and don't forget to visit Target-the Liberty of London line is now in stores!



olive eats: prosciutto wrapped dates

[photo credit: Sang An, epicurious.com]

One of our readers, Sarah, commented on the olive loves: birthday parties post, asking about the recipe for prosciutto wrapped dates.  I must admit that I originally meant to imitate the prosciutto wrapped figs that Lucy first made for me at Thanksgiving, but when I got home from the grocery store, I realized I had purchased dates, not figs.  I decided to look up some date recipes on epicurious.com, and the winning recipe was the dates stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in basil and prosciutto.  I will also say that this recipe can be adapted using any type of dried fruit + cheese + meat combination.  Over Christmas, my sister Jocelyn wrapped dates in bacon, and I think her take on this recipe has has been my favorite so far.  Then again, wrapping anything in bacon is pretty much cheating.  Unless you're a veggie, in which case its disgusting.

I adapted this recipe by halving the dates, and being generous with the unflavored Chevre.  I think using an herb infused Chevre would be a good addition as well.  We placed the treats under the broiler for just a few minutes (between 3 - 6), checking them often.  When using bacon, the process takes longer, and the fat from the bacon is quite hot so they should be cooled before serving.

This appetizer went so quickly I honestly didn't have time to snap a photo.  You'll have to excuse the borrowed one.

I should also note that although Epicurious is not my favorite source for recipes, the capability to search by ingredient is something I use pretty often, and am extremely grateful for.  If there is a specific veggie on sale at Stop and Shop, I use the Epicurious App on my iphone to look up recipes that I can use with the sale vegetable.  Or, if you participate in a CSA (I am doing one this summer), and your weekly grocery bag is full of an ingredient you are less than familiar with, its a great way to find related recipes.  Or, if something in your refrigerator is going to spoil quickly...i.e. buttermilk, you can search 'buttermilk' as an ingredient and get recipes for biscuits, salad dressings, puddings, all that will allow you to incorporate buttermilk.

Hoping that it is less rainy in your neck of the woods.


olive loves: birthday parties

March 9 was both Olivia and Jake's birthday, and it seemed only natural to throw a joint dinner/birthday party to celebrate.  Since Jake had requested lasagna in lieu of a formal birthday present, the menu was not difficult to decide upon.  For appetizers, Lucy made wonderfully simple bruschetta on tiny squares of toasted no-knead bread and goat cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in basil and prosciutto.  The salad, which was entirely assembled with Annie's help was a red-leaf/bibb combination with radishes and English cucumbers, dressed with a spicy Gorgonzola dressing that has been a long favorite of mine.  Mustard, blue cheese, garlic, and scallion create the perfect spicy dressing that slightly resembles a Caesar; I think the addition of Anchovies would be excellent and I will try it in the future.  It is an adapted recipe from a Caprial cookbook I stole from my mom.  Which I then lost.  So I had to consult my Aunt Deb for the recipe.  Sorry Mom.  Thanks Aunt Deb.

As far as the lasagna, I adapted my Aunt Betty's famous lasagna recipe *(she is the eldest of my mom's 5 sisters), substituting the 2 lbs ground beef for a 1 pound ground beef, 1/2 pound veal, and 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage combination.  After assembling the lasagna, it was apparent I had made plenty of lasagna (far too much for a dinner for 4), so naturally, I invited 12 guests.  We had a wonderful time celebrating Jake and Olivia, and an even more wonderful time sharing the evening's desserts.  With help from Martha Stewart, there was a Carrot Cake with Buttercream Frosting (it weighed in at approximately 7 pounds), and chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and sea salt.

The food was amazing.  The company was even better. I've eaten lasagna for every meal since Tuesday.

The more the merrier,


featured artisan:etsy seller, Brigida Swanson

Hopefully by now, you all know about the joys of Etsy. If not, it's something to be noticed. Basically, it's a place where craftsman, artisans, jewelers graphic designers, furniture makers and all other kinds of artists can sell their goods. There are endless items to browse; you may find that two hours have flown by and all you've done is online window-shopped for a bunch of notecards. There are many ways to search the site, from categories, to "featured seller" and "recently listed items." Even if you don't end up buying anything, you often look at the goods and think  "I can make that" and are inspired to craft away. I've had plans to make this chandelier since Christmas...I've got the supplies, now all I need is a free weekend.

The seller I would like to share with you today is Brigida Swanson, a RISD alum. She makes adorable cards and papergoods featuring quotes and sayings from yesteryear; Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Emily Dickinson quotes are stamped on the cards alongside a simple image of a Victorian Era woman or dress. My favorite is, "Faultless in spite of all her faults."

I'm also fond of "I thought only of you."

And of course, a nod to Rhode Island:

Wondering what "What cheer!" means? Read about it here.

Check out the rest of her items here. Items range from cards at $4.00 to prints up to $50.00.

forget me not.