Archive for January, 2011

When Weston was a little older than a year, Monkey arrived.  It was love at first sight, really.  Maybe more for me than Wes at first, but the second I saw that little monkey-shaped bundle of love staring at me from the basket in the toy store I knew we needed to bring him home. 

Weston and Monkey soon became inseparable, and I started to get concerned about what would happen if Monkey got lost (crazy first-time mother stuff, clearly).  So one monkey soon grew to be a family of monkeys (two full-size replacements and two little ones for travel — I told you, crazy), complete with Daddy Monkey, Mommy Monkey, Teacher/Babysitter Monkey and the babies. 

Nearly six years later, The Monkeys still hang out with us, lined up and tucked in at the foot of Weston’s bed.  But Daddy Monkey, Weston’s favorite, is starting to look like the babies have kept him up at night and his job is stressing him out.  I know the day will come when we pack up The Monkeys and send them to the attic, but it sure would be cool to memorialize them while they’re still in decent shape. 

Enter Hippopota.

A super-cool company that memorializes your kiddo’s lovey (or any loved object, really) in a totally modern way, Hippopota owner Christian Jaillite photographs the subject, capturing the essence of it and nothing else.  Just contact him to make arrangements, send him your object (to be returned, of course), and in 2-3 weeks you can have a masterpiece of your child’s favorite pal that’s hip enough to hang in your dining room.

Photo credits: Monkey in his better days, Paige Lewin; “Hippo,” Christian Jaillite, Hippopota; prices start at $500 with 10% of all profits donated to the World Food Program


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Logic quiz:

Poor self-image is to fashion magazines as WHAT is to home decor catalogs?

I don’t know either, but sometimes I feel like I have it, whatever IT is.  Occasionally I get sort of taken over by staging my house…rolling up the throw blankets and storing them just-so in a gorgeous basket (you’re cold? grab one of these!), propping the white ceramic fish platter in a plate holder on my kitchen counter (look, it’s art!), stacking up a pretty set of books by my bedside (who has time to read?).  Maybe it’s some form of OCD, or maybe it comes from buying and selling multiple houses in the past five years (never know when you’re gonna have to put it on the market!), but I suspect that some of the obsession comes from looking through too many home design catalogs and shelter pubs.

Luckily, my little brother pointed me to a hilarious site that reminds me how idiotic some of those scenes from Pottery Barn (and others) are.  Catalog Living follows the fictional life of Gary and Elaine, the passive-aggressive, accessory-obsessed couple who live in your catalogs.  Created by actor and Tufts graduate Molly Erdman, Catalog Living now serves as my daily reminder that I shouldn’t worry if my throws aren’t just-so.

{But really, a little staging never hurt anyone.}

Image credit: Catalog Living, January 20, 2011

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Pretty Cloth Napkins

I like dressing up my table, even for a not-so-quiet weeknight dinner of red sauce pasta and sausage.  And there’s something about a cloth napkin that adds a little pretty to your place setting, even if you choose to eat from a TV tray.  Here are some of my favorites…what are yours?

West Elm Yarn Dyed Organic Napkins (we use these constantly)

Hammocks & High Tea Saree Napkins

DwellStudio Gate Sun Napkins

Jonathan Adler Neptune Napkins

Skinny laMinx Pincushion Napkins

Want more?

A fun alternative to placemats.

My very favorite dinnerware.

Setting a pretty table.

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It only took six years, eight months and a bunch of days, but my little big guy finally lost his first tooth.  We (he) had been waiting so long, you would think we – ahem – the Tooth Fairy would have been ready with a super-special $2 bill and a new toothbrush.  But instead, our little big guy got two fairly crumply singles folded up and stuffed into his tooth fairy pillow.  While I would’ve loved the task of hunting down (or even making) a sweet pillow for my son’s special day, my mother-in-law — Keeper of All Things — had saved my husband’s childhood tooth pillow and given it to him for the holidays.  Good thing too, or else he would’ve had to stick his tooth in a ziploc.

Have a kid on his or her way to losing a first tooth?  Check out some of my favorite tooth pillow options from Etsy:

Also, if you’re curious what the Tooth Fairy’s going rate is, just check out this awesome post.

Photo credits: My Everyday Graces, Laugh Rabbit Jr., Inklore, Naomi Joy Designs

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{For those of you thinking you were going to get a post on some great product or DIY project today, please forgive this brief indulgence…we’ll be back tomorrow with our regularly scheduled programming.}

For four days last week, I indulged in my ultimate personal (not to be confused with family) vacation.

For four days last week, I caught up with an old friend, met at least thirty new ones, and basked in the warm glow of humor, creativity, entrepreneurship, inspiration, artistry, and seriously great fashion.

For four days last week, I attended the Altitude Design Summit, a not-to-be-missed bringing-together of social media and design professionals to hear from some of the Greats, learn new skills (screen-printing, tabletop photography, Illustrator, oh my!) and forge new relationships that will last beyond Twitter.

For anyone interested in the content of the panels, you can find summaries and commentary all over the blogosphere. Since I know many of my readers are not bloggers or designers and The Mudroom is not what one would characterize as a personal blog, I won’t recount every life-changing detail. But I will tell you this…for me, the final keynote session of the conference, led by Swiss Miss Tina Roth Eisenberg, summed up my reason for starting this blog, and in some ways, my reason for being. During her address, she said many things that struck a chord for me (“don’t start a blog unless you’re passionate about the subject,” “nobody can tell you what’s best for you,” “enthusiasm and integrity are your biggest assets,” and so on), but it was when she was talking about her upbringing in Switzerland that she said the magic words:

“Life is too short not to surround yourself with beautiful things.”

And that, in 15 words or less, is exactly why I started writing this blog.

Life is too short.

We probably all have some experience with that phenomenon, and maybe someday I’ll write about mine. My life-is-too-short experience led my soul-searching husband to ask me three years ago “what is your passion…your reason for being?” to which I answered, my home and my family and my belief that everyone can live in a beautiful space that incorporates all the messiness of real life.

Some people may feel that’s trite. But the architects and artists and designers of the world — the ones that Switzerland celebrates on its bank notes — would tell you otherwise.

And I’m assuming you guys and gals out there who occasionally stop by my little Mudroom here might feel the same, and that’s why you keep coming back. So thank you…thanks for making my day every time one of you leaves a comment, or sends a nice e-mail my way to let me know that you look to surround yourself with beauty too.

Keep ’em coming, and I’ll do the same.


P.S. – Thank you, thank you to the brilliant ladies of Kirtsy and the amazing sponsors for putting on this conference.

P.P.S. – That whole sponsorship thing really works.  Haven’t stopped thinking about the Honda Accord Crosstour since our chaffeured lift to Lamb’s on Thursday night.

Photo credit: the super-sweet Grand America courtyard in Salt Lake City; photo taken by Paige Lewin

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See you Monday!

For the next few days, I’ll be off in Salt Lake City at the Altitude Design Summit soaking up panels and classes with creative powerhouses from around the web. I can’t wait to see you all Monday with a renewed creative vision for 2011!

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I grew up with a cat and a dog, while my husband grew up with a…wait for it…bird.  Seriously.

The pet ownership differences from our childhood, along with his actual allergy to cat hair and his neat freak-inspired allergy to dog hair, means that we haven’t brought more than a guppy and some snails into our family of four.  But when we do (and oh, we will, if our kids and I have anything to do with it), the pup is going to look like this and sleep on one of the fabulous pet beds from Fleabag Bed.

Just like any great business venture, Fleabag Bed owners Sabina Vavra and Chelsea Hernandez filled a niche when Sabina couldn’t find an attractive and affordable dog bed for her Golden.  Each poly-filled bed is handmade in Los Angeles, using locally-milled organic cotton (11 patterns!) for its removable and washable cover.  Nice!

Photo credit: Orson Pet Bed from Fleabag Bed, starting at $68

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