Photo Styling, The Not So Big Picture

I love beautifully framed and displayed photographs.  I'm such a fan of gallery walls I have three, with one more in the works, in my home (is that allowed)? 

But what do we do with all those beautiful little images that are tucked away in keepsake boxes and drawers, or even worse, parked on our iPhones never to see the light of day? 

Beyond the gallery wall and photo book, I love living with my pictures as little art shows or installations throughout my home. Because they are rotated often, I see these little styling moments as temporary, which frees up my creativity and that simply makes it more fun for me.  

Grab a handful of your long lost favorite pictures and add some of these ideas to your arsenal of styling options. 

Folded book art becomes a rolodex of old family photos. 

Heirloom photos are protected under glass cloches and grouped together with a glass lab beaker.  

Glass curio boxes are an artful way of displaying images in a mixed media style. These Hipstamatic prints, made with my iPhone,  are layered on top of a blank vintage book page.  Add a special artifact or two to the display to personalize it even further. 

One of the easiest ways to view your photographs also invites everyone to enjoy them. A bowl of colorful vacation pics on a coffee table is hard to resist. 

Oh my.  Baby birds in their natural habitat.  These little boys are now big teenagers.  How did that happen? (photo by Lori Vrba)

I hope you'll bring your buried treasures and memories out into your home where you can appreciate them every day in creative ways. 

Lake Tejas Summer 2014

I see that summer is winding down in more northern states.  Here in Texas we have another month or more. But we are feeling the shift in our schedules as school is back in full swing.  Ouch. Momma is not so much a morning person and high school starts too early.  At least the

American Academy of Pediatrics

has my back on this issue.

Summer break was full of vacation, work, rest, excitement, sleeping in, late night Sonic runs for milkshakes. And a little boredom. Just like it's suppose to be. 

No matter where we venture off to, our summer tradition of spending a day with family at  our favorite east Texas swimming hole,

Lake Tejas

, will always be the boys most favorite day of the summer. They are so happy here. 

(grainy pics courtesy of my iphone and a waterproof case)

It's exactly this charming and always feels about 15 degrees cooler than the concrete jungle. Bring a sandwich, rent a tube and float out to the middle of the lake and watch the show off the high dive. The older kids show off a bit for the young ones and the teenage boys talk smack as they're working up their courage to jump from 20 feet off the tower.  My boys learned to do backflips, watermelons and flying squirrels here as I floated below them holding my breath. It's so fun!

Lake Tejas is special to us as my father in law was a lifeguard here growing up.  It's a place we've all enjoyed through the generations and it's great to be able to share it with our boys. 

I hope your summer brought you happy memories and special days. Happy Labor Day weekend!

Mid Summer Meltdown

Have you had yours yet? Seems no matter how firmly we've set our best intentions toward summer break, it's inevitable. Mine happened yesterday. Looking back, I can say it began when one of my boys ran out back with a bb gun during a lovely afternoon pool party with friends to shoot a wasp that was scaring the girls. My wise friend attempted to reassure me it was "a boy thing", but to me it was just stupid. That was followed with a series of "teenage brain" induced bad choices that just wore. me. down. 
And I don't wear down that easily. I'm good at ignoring them. Don't judge, it's allowed at this age (mine - not theirs.) I also get plenty of "me" time. Yesterday's "me" time was spent submerged wondering just how long I could hold my breath without resurfacing, because THEY were up there.

We've had a lovely vacation in Florida. Then a loooong 4th of July weekend together. We're solidly into our summer routine. 

I love summer with my kids and really look forward to it. It's been a total blessing to be able to slow down and just be with them every summer of their lives. We get into a groove of sleeping late and finding easy ways to pass the time. They love to read, play outside until dark with their friends and are really funny, loving, interesting people.
But..if you're a mom home most of the summer with your kids, then you know there's gonna be one or two of THOSE days. 

Here are a few simple little things in my tool kit this summer I thought I would share with you just in case you're running out of breath and need to come up for air, too.

This nice stack of bestsellers is my most recent haul of books from the thrift store.  With paperbacks averaging $15.00 a piece and my boys flying through a book a week, it really adds up. I love coming home with a great bag of books for less than the retail price of one. 
Bossypants by Tina Fey has been my laugh out loud favorite and I'm usually a cynic when I read that books are "laugh out loud funny".  This one is.

Before you head off for some me time I recommend a relaxing shower with Dr. Bronner's Lavender Pure Castile Soap. It's magic. Says so right on the bottle.  I get mine at Target.  A "relaxing fragrance for tired and stressed-out souls", you can enjoy the strong old fashioned lavender scent lathered up on your lady parts or drink it straight from the bottle.  Your call.  

natural products... body care

Because it's too hot to do much cooking our panini press has been getting a workout. It's one of those kitchen gadgets that's worth the space it's going to take up in your cabinet. Lucky for me, my family is happy with a nice hot sandwich for dinner. Sliced sourdough bread, a rotisserie chicken, baby spinach, havarti cheese and don't forget the pesto sauce which elevates it to fancypants sandwich. My press is like this one:

Cuisinart™ Griddler™ with Removable Plates
And although my boys don't know that a fly swat is the better choice for wasp killing, they do know how to operate this kitchen gadget and can make their own sandwich. Score!

We spend a lot of time outside and we love to have our music out there with us. This summer we're enjoying our ipod playlists and Pandora on this Rocketfish Outdoor Wireless Speaker.

I love that it actually works and can handle high volumes without distortion enabling me to block out the sound of my kids arguing over whose turn it is to pick up dog poop out of the yard.

Speaking of Pandora, I recently discovered bad to the bone blues singer Susan Tedeschi. I realize taste in music is subjective, but if you're a mom in the middle of a summer meltdown and want to be reminded of your deep abiding love of your child then give this beautiful song a listen. I will have it on repeat next week while my boys are away at camp swinging on the death rope and holding each other underwater for too long right in front of the lifeguard who's texting her BFF about her next body piercing. 
I know I'll be missing their sweet faces and bad body odor.

Lord Protect My Child

Shopping in Seaside Florida

We just returned from a wonderful week's vacation in one of our favorite places, Seaside, Florida. If you're looking for an idyllic beach vacation, this is the place. Although it's grown over the last decade, the charm of this little village is always inspiring. It felt like I had it all to myself one morning when I set out for a long walk after a rain storm had cooled things down for a bit.

A quick visit to The Seaside Chapel and it's lovely architecture, then through Quincy Circle.

The perfect seaside style of Pizits Home & Cottage. Love the slipcovers and coastal art here.

Another sidewalk gallery.

Curiosities and necessities at The Art of Simple.

This anchor silhouette woven rug would be an easy DIY with lots of options.

The shops and galleries in Seaside have inspired me for years.  Before the boys were born I visited a garden shop in the neighboring village of Seagrove called Pickets. The cement floor of the shop was painted in a diamond pattern. This was before we were all plugged into Pinterest and Facebook and I hadn't seen a floor painted like that before. I fell in love with that floor and went home and ripped up the carpet in our guest room, painted the cement floor with porch paint and turned the room into a crafting studio. About ten minutes later I got pregnant with twins. The carpet went back down and the room was changed back to a guest room because when you have twins, you need guests to come hold babies for you! 
They now love Seaside as much as my husband and I do and our family has made many years of great memories there.

New Ikea Lighting ~ Manljus

Do you love Ikea? I love their affordable designs and have quite a few pieces of furniture that mix well with my cottage style. On a recent trip I picked up the Manljus pendant ($49.99) for my breakfast nook.

White glass with a silver metal bulb cover diffuses the light so you don't feel like you're being interrogated (pet pendant peeve) and gives it a little industrial edge. 

 One more thing to share that has nothing to do with lighting. Over the Memorial holiday, one of my boys was under the weather and spent some quiet time playing cards with his dad. Like most things here, it got pretty competitive with quick card game challenges throughout the weekend. I decided to keep the cards on our breakfast table and it's been a big hit beyond the weekend. It's nice to see kids playing something that doesn't include a screen. A simple deck of cards, out where they can be reminded to play,  has kept them engaged and happy for hours.  It's the little things.

Living in a State of Wonder

Last week was spring break here in Houston which gave us the opportunity to get away for a few days to one of our favorite places, the Frio River in the Texas hill country.
The scenery, the quiet, the big open sky was just what we needed to recharge ourselves and celebrate our boys 13th birthday. Mother Nature at her finest; real, raw reminders of life, loss and renewal in evidence as we hiked and paddled our way through miles of beautiful countryside.
Here's a little of our time there shot with my phone:

And time to just be still and enjoy a really good book. Ann Patchett's State of Wonder is a beautifully written story about the Amazon. It's a good read.

This was our first time to stay with River Haven. Lovely property, immaculately clean and very affordable. 
Now back to work!

Here's to Love

These are my mom's vintage snake skin heels. Don't you love the brand?  And Aunt Louise's purse.She used to let me and my sister play in her makeup and make the biggest mess. I keep them in my closet because they're pretty. Pretty, girly stuff for special occasions. Like Valentine's Day photo shoots. I'll be tucked in with my sweetie tonight eating steaks on the coffee table and watching the season premier of Survivor with our boys. We party hard!

Love notes to give all year long.
Have a Happy One!

I Know I Know

C H R I S T M A S!  

It's coming like a freight train. My Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram feeds are smoking with beautiful images and inspiration. And I'm still full from Thanksgiving.

One word describes how I'm approaching the decorating this year :  S I M P L E

Do you save your Anthropologie ribbon, too?  Cute for tying around grocery store rosemary trees.

Not out of laziness or a lack of Christmas spirit.  With joy we celebrate the birth of Jesus in our home.  It's because it's what my heart craves for a season that has started to feel out of control with expectations.  I know a declaration is not necessary, however ..I guess I am declaring it.

If I can do that, I will be happily connected to what really matters and enjoy the beauty of the season. 

These are images I've posted on Instagram. You can follow me there @curiousdetails.  

Instead of Chalk

And so it begins. The start of the holiday season hustle and bustle. I've installed two homes worth of Christmas in two days and we haven't even carved the Thanksgiving turkey yet.  
And people are camped out in front of Best Buy? For what? 
We're not hosting Thanksgiving so my dining room won't see any action this week. I did create a little Thanksgiving installation just for fun. I get a lot of mileage out of this big chalkboard. If you have one and want to try something that doesn't involve chalk, here's what I put together from our Thanksgiving nature collection using the chalkboard as the background to build on. 

String, twine, wire and a big folding measuring stick were the starting point. 

 A magnifying glass makes it interactive and fun to see leaves and feathers up close. My boys have enjoyed this.

I will forever love a turkey hand. I made these with my boys years ago and we pull them out every year.  They're made out of dried beans. I remember the day we made them together. Special memories like this are what I'm so thankful for. Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving and the opportunity to  make special memories with your special people.

Real Acts of Compassion

**Edited***   Today, Thursday, is the day for Real Acts of Compassion.  Please click the link below to like and share our page...we would love for this to reach as many people as possible and hope to hear from you...thank you so much!!

This blog has given me the opportunity to share beautiful things for our homes, shops and interiors. Today I want to share something beautiful that my sister Suzette has created in memory of her daughter, my beloved niece, Rachel.

Click  HERE  to "like" our Facebook page Real Acts of Compassion.  We would love it if you would share it and then spread the love...make the world a little bit better place...just like Rach did.
Real Acts of Compassion make a real difference!

All You Need

This weekend marked our one year anniversary in our new home.  

In each of the three homes we've owned,  I've left something behind.  We're leaving our permanent mark in this one on the staircase with a line from one of our favorite songs.

"All You Need Is Love"

I guess if you're the kind of person that won't put a nail in a wall for fear of messing up, the idea of stamping song lyrics onto your wood staircase might cause palpitations. It makes me smile every time I see it.  
I love this house. I love our life in this house and am so grateful for every single day here.  
Like most houses 20 years old it needs some updating and I know we will get to it. But while we're all blogging and Pinning and Facebooking and tweeting about what we want to do with our homes, let's make time...lots of time, to just be happy at home with the people we love the most.
Here in Houston, school starts in two weeks. We're going to make sure we squeeze every last drop out of our summer break.

My Boys. They Fly

A repurposed paper weight and abandoned desk clock hold moments frozen in time from a summer's day at the lake.

Leaps of faith and feats of bravery from  12 year old boys .

The third generation to free fall twenty feet from a high diving board that has been sunk into a lake bed for over 50 years. Their grandfather was one of the original lifeguards. Climb, jump, swim, repeat. 

Even mid air, their personalities are evident and true. Two different varieties of bravery.

A disposable waterproof camera and a mom floating in an inner tube. Art is everywhere.

Company's Coming

We've got a house full of dear friends this week. Before they came I had fun getting the house ready and summer'd up .

That means bringing out some coral and shells. My favorite!

We've had so much fun already this week, but an unexpected project happened when I pulled the big chalkboard down and started my own version of chalkboard art based on our week together. The whole gang ended up contributing and I love it!

 The dad's even had an artistic one can resist the chalk!

The kids helped, too.

We're halfway through our time together and we've run out of room on the chalkboard. Hope your summer is as full of fun!

My Kinda Work

I've had the best time gathering props and setting up shots for the summer issue of Souvenir magazine. Sign up now and you will be notified as soon as the next issue is available (July, I believe).

We have welcomed Summer with open arms and quickly settled into a routine of staying up late, sleeping in, swimming and playing outside. We've had visitors and expect more in a few days so I'm pulling together a guest room that's been a storage room (pics later) and giving the boys upstairs bathroom a quick little makeover. We love paint! 
Client work and blogging seem to slow down in the summer as family becomes more of a priority. I predict my boys will grow as tall as me in the coming months, fed by so much fresh air, sunshine and sleep.

all images via instagram 
I'm loving Instagram on my ipad. If you would like to follow, my user name is curiousdetails. Find me there; I would love to follow you back, so send me your user names if you would like to connect . 

Belinda's Dream

This is my favorite rose, Belinda's Dream.  I recently planted two of the shrub roses outside my bedroom windows and they have already begun rewarding my effort with new growth and beautiful blooms. I grew this rose years ago in our first home. Our second home had a shady yard, so I took a break from rose gardening. The new house gets lots of sun, and I was really excited to welcome an old friend back to the garden.  We have all become so dependent on easy to grow Knockout Roses, that we forget about other varieties that offer the same low maintenance approach to rose gardening but provide greater enjoyment. Belinda's Dream is disease resistant, grows fast, and is a steady bloomer with a rich and distinct's beautiful! Once established, the  pink blooms get huge and remind me of the old fashioned cabbage roses.

Combined with Knockout Roses and clippings from my Dusty Miller, it makes a simple but beautiful display. Did you know that Dusty Miller clippings stay fresh and pretty for two weeks?

Happy Mothers Day to those who are celebrating Sunday.  This was a week of high octane mothering for me. My boys weren't feeling well, the doctor's office wasn't cooperating and the frustration was mounting. I was reminded that motherhood isn't for sissy's.   
Mothering these two boys is one of the greatest privileges of my life. Talk about being rewarded for one's efforts!  They are a gift and a treasure.
Happy Mother's Day!

Where'd You Get That......?

I get asked this question almost every day about something in my house. I shop all over Houston, thrift stores, garage sales, the curb, and every retailer from Target in the suburbs to Mr. Fancy Pants stores in River Oaks. But there's nothing like going home and boxing up some goodies from the Queen of Collections, the Martha that Martha wishes she could be, the original American Picker, antique dealer, former antique co-op owner and Memom to lots of grandchildren and great grandchildren, my mom...Jo Ann Guillott:

My parents, Jo & Po, are lifelong antique dealers and collectors.  Hardcore, old school, real deal collectors that love living with the things they love.  I thought I would go straight to the source and share some images with you so you can see "where I got that" :

That awesome birdcage now lives at my house and was used in my recent Souvenir Magazine feature.

Quilts, blankets, blue stoneware..this is a small sample.

Yellow ware, more quilts and accessories.
Beautiful primitive small wood trunk collection.

Stoneware and a white armoire at the top of the stairs full of quilts.

Ironstone out the wazoo! 

Need an ironstone pitcher?

My favorites..seashells and butterflies.

See what I mean??  Yes, this is their home. Yes, it always looks like this. Yes, it's a lot of stuff. Yes, it's immaculately clean. Yes, I grew up with this. Yes, it's not your normal home.... define normal :)

Jo & Po specialize in private sales these days. They don't Tweet, Pin or blog. However, if you are in need of shop inventory, props for styling, instant collections or true American , Victorian  or cottage antiques, contact me at and I will put you in touch with them. But keep in mind, I get first dibs!

A Dozen

This weekend wraps up our Spring Break here in Texas. It's also my twin boys 12th birthday. We celebrated with a much needed getaway to the Texas Hill Country. I'm not even sure what town we were officially in, but we stayed at Criders on the Frio which lies between Concan and Leakey. I intend to avoid tent camping for the rest of my life, so these sparse cabins were a compromise to roughing it (if you call a window a/c unit roughing it :)

The drive through the hills and valleys was beautiful with mile after mile of ranch land. 

Spring weather in Texas is so unpredictable. Our mornings were cold, overcast and foggy, but by the afternoon the sun was out and the boys hit the river. The word "frio" is Spanish for "cold".  They should change it to "freezing" because that spring fed river was too cold for me in the month of March.  But boys being boys...they couldn't resist a couple hours every afternoon on the rope swing.

The area has two state parks with excellent hiking. We visited Lost Maples State Park for a morning of hiking but usually just traipsed around our camping area with acres and acres to explore by the river.

We had a glitch in our reservation when we checked in and were given a cabin without a tv (yea, I know).  I was so proud of my boys, they rose to the challenge and not only survived it, they thrived.  Every evening was spent by the fire outside, telling ghost stories  (my favorite!) and arguing over who's the best Batman villain, before passing out exhausted by the day spent on the river (and being rescued after missing the kayak drop off point...they loved/hated that adventure!)

I love the way this trip slowed us down. Being unplugged was just part of it. I believe being outside in a place as beautiful as this, changes our role in the world for a little while. We become observers. We learn to look. The shift just find yourself watching hawks circling overhead or staring at the big fish in the crystal clear waters of the river, too lazy to take the bait.  "Tourists!"  they must be thinking...and off they go. We skip rocks...hundreds of them.  We pull over on the side of the highway for a while to watch longhorns watch us.

We watch the sun rise and set over the biggest cypress tree in Texas.

We head in to town for lunch and it feels wrong to be inside, sitting in a cafe..we're suppose to be OUT THERE! Climbing on this.....

A dozen years ago, me and my high school sweetheart .....

were blessed with two baby boys. 
They're sweet, kind, talented, funny....and inseparable. No matter how much we encourage them to experience life as individuals, their innate urge is to be together at all times. They truly, madly deeply care for each other. 

Happy Birthday to my sweet boys!