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Monday, December 27, 2010

See You In 2011!

“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it”
                                                       -Lily Tomlin
At the close of 2010, I'm looking forward to 2011 with much anticipation. I am so grateful for the opportunity you’ve all given me to share the things that inspire me, make me laugh, make me cry and make me reach for the "happy pills". Thanks to all of you for your friendship - I'm so very thankful that this past year brought each and every one of you into my world! I will see you after a few days of fun, family and goofin' off.

Here's to a little less stress and reality, for that matter, in 2011!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Funny How My Finest Hour Lasted a Minute and a Half

So, I'm all a twitter cuz I'm in The Austin American Statesman today - on the front of the Lifestyles section even, yet, already!!  And, what's even cooler is that my presence there has nothing whatsoever to do with my being dead, imprisoned, or part of a scandalous news story! 

Freelance lifestyle journalist and good friend, Amy Gabriel, chose to feature me and my home in her new-ish series called Inner Space.   According to the Statesman, it's a monthly look inside some of Austin's most stylish nooks and nests.  How groovy is that?  I'm stylish and I have a nook AND a nest!  At least for today anyway!  Many thanks to Amy, the Statesman, and the talented freelance photographer, Ashley Landis, who shot these photos.

And if you're interested, you can read the full story here.  And you can get a sneak peek at the newly designed Vintage Laundry website here.

Happy almost Christmas Eve!

Photos courtesy Ashley Landis and the Austin American Statesman

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Want It Wednesdays: Blue Christmas

Photos courtesy Mallett Antiques, Corinne Robbins, 1stdibs and Guinevere

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fire-resistant Menus "R" Us

I don't remember exactly how long I was in the grocery store, but my presence there began on a road not so much paved with enthusiasm as sporadically littered with an enthusiastic resistance.  This is my first, and most likely my last, time to be solely responsible for Christmas dinner.  Being blessed with two aunts, a mother, and three siblings who are thoroughly marvelous cooks, I can say with a solid degree of authority, that I am a lousy cook.  I spontaneously screw up the order and amounts of ingredients in cakes, of course, unless I buy them in a box and all I have to do is add an egg.  I will, without thinking twice, serve a steak so rare that with a little help from a vet, it could recover.  I cook so poorly I'm amazed my children and da Hubbs have not put in for transfers.

Over the years (45 to be exact) I have taken cooking as seriously as someone like myself could.  I knew my motivation was rooted in fire-resistant menus;  I wouldn't cook it if it was likely to burst into flames.  Clearly roasting was out of the question, as was braising, sauteing, and everything involving a ladle.  I've been thinking about our Christmas dinner menu for some time now, wondering what food items I deemed durable enough to withstand my underqualified, indifferent, likely-to-send-send-you-to-the-emergency-room-with-food-poisoning" culinary skills.  And then it hit me . . . .  we'll begin with cheddar whizzy shot straight out of the can into our mouths, along with little square Spam bits eaten with toothpicks a -la-the Rainman followed by fruit roll-ups and Altoids.  But I had a hunch that the family might object.  So, I closed my eyes right there in the snack aisle and shook my head like a Magic 8-Ball waiting for a different idea.  I think it it is fair to say that I am often epicuriously  lethargic.

The good news is that "fully cooked" has turned out to be the magic password for cooking for the holidays, just the way "let's get take out" would on a weekday or "there's no food in the house" works on the weekends.  In theory, this should solve my problem . . . . . right? . . . . .  well, I'll keep you posted.  But in the mean time here are some marvelous food blogs that keep me laughing and inspire me to solve my "crappy cook" conundrum:

The ever creative Amateur Gourmet

The witty, tongue twister of a blog named Spork Or Foon

And a blackly hilarious blog called Suicidefood

Photos and logos courtesy Amateur Gourmet, Spork Or Foon, Suicidefood and Amazon

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Girl Friday: Dollars for Dreamers

When I was a little girl, the second I heard and understood the definition of the word entrepreneur, I knew I wanted to be one.  To me, it seemed the most cool, wayward, underground, and flat-out liberating thing there was.  I wanted to own my own business immediately, largely because I had no idea what it entailed.  I had no thoughts of cash flow or financial deficiencies.  I figured that all an  entrepreneur had to do was just raise their hand in a "please-hand -over-all-your-cash" manner as they explained their vision and passers-by would simple empty their pockets in an effort to support their spunky creative gumption.

Well, strange as it may seem, I wasn't far off.  Because today I ran across a company called Kickstarter, whose basic premise stems from just that thought process.  It's a fundraising website co-founded by  Yancey Strickler and  Perry Chen.  The thing that sets this company apart from other crowd-sourcing ideas is the fact that it's an all-or-nothing situation.  Here's how it works: You set a fundraising goal and a timeline that can stretch up to 90 days.  Pledges are tiered, with each tier offering different incentives.  If your project doesn’t reach your pre-set monetary goal in the time limit, nobody pays.  If you reach your goal before the time limit, you continue to raise money until the time limit is up. The implications of this are that b ackers simply can't lose — if you can’t complete the project, they don’t pay.  And if you can, they get both their tier award and the satisfaction of knowing they were instrumental in helping a dream come true.  Kickstarter and Amazon have teamed to make payments seamless and safe. Amazon acts like an escrow service — if pledge goals are met, the pledges are automatically charged the moment the funding time limit is reached.

You can read more on this marvelous company in Wired, NPR and The New York Times.

One of Kickstarter’s earliest success stories was Polyvinyl Record, an indie record label that has released albums by of Montreal and Asobi Seksu.
I, myself, will be wasting no time in getting started!

Logo courtesy Kickstarter

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Urine" For a Treat"

There is no etiquette, no protocol for asking one's husband, " Did you by chance take a whiz on the bathroom floor this morning?"  It's just awkward.  This seems an obvious "good manners" faux pas, but there are certain aiming mis-judgments that polite society will permit.  People have been known to miss the boat, miss the point, and one's heart might miss a beat, and we simply shake our heads, shrug our shoulders and move on.  I mean I don't claim to be Emily Post or anything and nobody's perfect, right?  All of us are only human after all.  But, stepping in the contents of someone's bladder first thing in the morning is outlandish - and just a little antagonistic - it is sufficient to say that no one is prepared for being questioned about such matters. It's a far cry from "Is that your wet towel on the floor?"  And besides all of that, who would own up to such a thing?

Luckily, before I could even put the question on the table I realized that it was not da Hubbs but our kitty, Eva June, who had sprung a leak.  And being the opportunistic creature that I am, I would like to take advantage of this good segue opportunity . . . . So, I have another little leak to share with you about some newly posted inventory on my Etsy and "urine" for a treat!  Ha!  I sleigh me.  Get it?  "Sleigh" instead of "slay" - just a little bathroom slash Kris Kringle humor to get your Thursday goin', don't cha know?!

To begin with, I would like to show you this prissy pink perch in the photo above.  How great would this reproduction Louis XVI style tufted chair look at a mirrored desk or parked in front of a glam-y French vanity. It has been re-upholstered in a marvelous pink linen with two inch diamond tufting and the wood work has been guilt with a gold paint finish.

Next on the list are these elegant reproduction French Louis XV carved side chairs have an arching crest above a cartouche-shaped upholstered back with a serpentine apron raised on graceful cabriole leg. The wood treatment is a satin white paint and has been newly upholstered in a silver grey damask blended fabric with a double welting that gives them an amazing tailored yet feminine feel. I can only image how marvelous this pair would look on either side of a sofa table in a dining room or as intimate seating at a romantic table built for two.

And last you could take this stunning set of (4) vintage Parson's chairs and have our studios reupholster it in a fabric of your choice. Because you know how I feel about customization in the home - I figure it's like couture in the closet.

I've been envisioning this set of vintage Parson's chairs around a Saarinen pedestal table or pulled up to a curvy French farm table. They each have a six button tufted back with a straight apron at the seat raised on sleek squared pillar legs. The present vinyl upholstery is stained and worn so, they will need to be reupholstered - each chair will need 2.5 yards of a  solid fabric and 3.5 yards of a fabric that is patterned.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Want It Wednesdays: Ninja, Ginga and Holiday Splenda

Photos Courtesy V and M, Bob Graham Lighting, Fred and Friends, Ebay and Copper Maven Collectibles

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Retro Redo: Master of My Domain

Okay, have it your way, I'm a procrastinator.

You know how they say that procrastination is like masturbation because in the end you're just screwing yourself?  Well, the only thing I have to say to that, is at least I'm the master of something.

Now, to be fair and maybe a little less inappropriate, I did accomplish one or two things that I'd like to share with you.  So, in today's Retro Redo, I'd like to show the "before" and "afters" of a couple of vintage armchairs that our workroom has done.

I'll begin with this mid-century club chair that I had listed on my Etsy store.  This handsome mid-century piece has great scale with great pieced button tufts on the back that emphasize its tailored silhouette. Even in its original velvet fabric it made a marvelous statement.  But the fabric my client chose to re-upholster it in simply blew my mind.  The piece finished up beautifully and though I didn't think it was possible, it is more gorgeous than before!

Another piece that proves my theory that customization in the home is like couture in the closet, is this great vintage reproduction Louis XV Bergere chair from the 1940s that I had also listed on my Etsy.  It is a beautiful example of craftsmanship with its fantastic carving on the curvy french feet and arms. This client decided to guild the arms and feet and re-upholster in a lustrous chocolate pinstriped velvet.  I think the results are spectacular and it is a simply sensational piece!

See you tomorrow with a "Christmas-y-themed" Want It Wednesday.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

If Procrastination Were Dirt, I'd Be About an Acre

I have been trying for weeks to write about my plans for The Vintage Laundry, but it hasn't been easy, and for one simple reason:  Redesigning the website and implementing new services and aspects to the business has taken up so much of life lately that I have had no time to sit down in front of the computer to post blogs.

I hate that I procrastinate.  I absolutely hate this about me!  If procrastination were dirt, I'd be about an acre - or maybe 40.  If you're one of those people who is all together and perfectly prepared for all that life presents to you on a daily basis, don't even bother reading this because there will be nothing for you here.  This is for people who put things off claiming that if you can't do tasks perfectly, why do them at all, those who are bad at multi-tasking, and those who feel that their disorganized houses, and their hopeless and chronic inability to finish their "to-do-list," somehow makes them less than.

There was, however, for exactly 10 minutes in 1993 right after the birth of my first child that I, LeAnn Stephenson, was thought to be the most on-top-of-things woman on the planet.  It's true, just ask my breast pump.  In any case, I would like to NOT procrastinate.  I would!  But every time I try to get all organized, something goes wrong and makes it impossible.  I want to make sure I make this clear:  Every time I try to get all organized, something goes wrong.

I have observed people who are overwhelmed by their "to-do-lists" (and are often procrastinators) - and I've also witnessed the parallel universe of folks who are freakishly efficient (but are often overwhelmed, as well.)  I myself swing between the two universes, spending larger portions of time in the land of the overwhelmed slash procrastinating.  I have periods of time being wildly committed to finishing my "to-do-lists" and being on top of my schedule; then some little glitch or fire ignites needing my attention, and then I spend time solving the problem and putting out the fire.  Then I slowly make my way back to completing tasks in a timely manner,  then something new and urgent comes up.  So far, in the "urgent-must-put-this-fire-out" department, the past month and a half has managed the following:  I have broken four metatarsal bones in my right foot, one right after the other which leads to visits to multiple doctors to see why this is happening and an oh-so-stylish boot cast to hobble around in;  my internet provider has been malfunctioning making it usable only 2 out of every 7 days for quite some time now, making designing the website, emailing clients, posting blogs, and listing new merchandise a little tricky;  My children, Olivia and Noah, both had birthdays and celebrations that had to be planned, invites designed, and parties to be had;  extra pockets of time to be alloted for my daughter who is now driving here and there and everywhere to accumulate hours she needs to get her license;  problems with damage and shipping on some of my reworked furniture pieces, causing loss of profit and general disappointment in certain people; and now I'm entirely destroyed by the imminent arrival of Christmas and all that that implies, not to mention that I can't perform the simple act of a hair flip to remove my bangs from my eyes without becoming a candidate for traction.

So, here's what I know now that I didn't know then:

•  Take calcium EVERY DAY and make sure you have some Vitamin D with it so it will absorb properly.

•  There are no brakes on the passenger side floorboard of my car.

•  Stop doing what does not work - get rid of the things that work against you.

•  Take more pictures and spend more time with family.

•  It's okay to say, No.

•  Keep your bangs trimmed.

•  There are people will take advantage of me.

. . . and finally . . . .

•  The Earth will not stop spinning because I didn't finish my "to-do-list."

Photo courtesy Blogging Innovation

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sometimes I Feel Like a Figment of My Own Imagination

Here I am last spring with two of my favorite bloggin' buddies, Adrienne, of  
The Flying Bee and Angelique, of  Six In One Hand . . . . at least I think that's me!

Hi everyone - I'm back, and I'm full of it - "IT" being up to your own personal interpretation.

After a long antique show like this fall's Antiques Week, a couple of quotes by Lily Tomlin always spring to mind. One goes something like this: "I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific."  And the other goes like this:  "Sometimes I feel like a figment of my own imagination."

When I get the opportunity to be immersed in my business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the better part of a month while preparing for, setting up for, and selling for this twice-a-year event, I always feel that I have a clearer, more specific grasp on the direction that I would like to take my business.  As I visit with friends and customers about what they are searching for or brainstorm with fellow dealers about the state of the vintage/antiques business in our present economy, or iron a dozen vintage napkins or polish a pile of silver flatware, my mind tumbles around with idea after idea of ways to expand, grow, and refine my business.

My posts for the rest of the week will consist of ideas and specifics about how The Vintage Laundry will be changing, growing, and expanding our scope and offerings.  I'm really excited and I can't wait to share - So, stay tuned!!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kankles, Karma and Kittens

Friends, there's something about me that you should know:  I'm a wussy, cry baby, whiney pants.

I'm talkin' cranky baby squared!  And to prove my point, I'd like to present you with some ex-post facto - which is Latin for "Lord, that girl can complain!"  So, pay attention, there will be a quiz later.

Fact #1:  I'm in a circus-type tent in the middle of a cow pasture for this Fall's Antiques Week.

Fact #2:  All of my vintage crap, I mean merchandise, is placed in and around said circus tent.

Fact #3:  It is hurricane season.

Fact #4:  It has been raining off and on for the past 4 days.

Fact #5:  I have taken up yoga to calm my over-caffeinated mind and slim my over-fed body.

Fact #6:  There are fire ants in my socks.

Fact #7:  I'm a teensy weensy bit allergic to said ants of the fire persuasion - I have "kankles," which the urban dictionary defines as calves that become feet without taking an ankle break.

Fact #8:  Flea markets and antique shows medical facilities usually have to shoulder other responsibilities.  For example, the First Aid slash Central Office slash concession booth that administered a dose of Benadryl to me came with a kettle corn chaser and a bar-b-que'd turkey leg - now that's health care reform!

Fact #9:  And before any of that happened, our new kitty decided today would be a good day to have violently explosive diarrhea . . . in my tennis shoe . . . 

So, here are the 2 questions on my little quiz:

How many downward-facing dogs will have to do to find my center?  And, how many hours will I have to sit and rub my blanky against my cheek to find my happy place again?

Photo courtesy Consumerfriendly

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Treasure Hunting at Antiques Week in Texas

Our Golden Retriever, AJ, does this little prancy-dancy thing when we go out to play with or feed him.  He wags his tail with such enthusiasm that I think sometimes he might take flight.  He's just so overwhelmed by his anticipation and excitement that often he jumps off of the deck and takes a couple of "turbo-rear-end-in-low-gear" laps around the backyard.  Well, I gotta tell ya, this is the way I feel about Antiques Week in Texas.  And, apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Our man Stan Williams, author of The Find, has put Texas Antique Week at the top of his own personal list of favorite antiquing spots and Shelterpop has included it in its Top 5 Flea Markets in the Country.  Stan described it this way: "If you want big, expensive items, they're there. If you want junk, it's there. It really has everything."

So, if you find joy in treasure hunting in overstuffed flea markets and are planning on attending Antiques Week this fall, I would love it if you would come by and see me at my spaces at Vickie Davis' wonderful venue at The Texas Rose Antique Show, located across from Marburger Farms, 2075 South State Highway 237. You can find directions here. The show begins Saturday, September 25th, and runs through Saturday, October 2, 2010.

Hope to see you there and happy hunting!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Austin-centric Vintage-Type Thingys

Hey everyone, just thought I would share a little Austin-centric vintage-type thingys with you.

STAG will showcase 10 looks, including some one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, on Wednesday night, September 22nd at 8pm for Tribeza Magazine's first all-men's ROCK + RUNWAY FASHION SHOW.  You can get more info here.

And another little goody I'd like to share comes from Yelp.  To quote their site, "Get ready to lose your prohibitions" for Yelp's 2010 Open Party. They suggest that you just knock three times and whisper low . . . and say that Yelp sent you!  Some of the things to expect are big-band, burlesque, a casino and free cocktails sure to knock you back a few decades.  See more details here.

Image courtesy Tribeza Magazine

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Salad Bar: The Joys of Owning Your Own Business

Happy Monday to everyone.  I hope your weekend was restful or productive or fun or whatever you wanted it to be!

Most of my weekend consisted of trying very hard to harness the divine act of accepting my (and a little bit of da Hubbs') most tiresome and irritating character faults. The remainder of my weekend was spent mopping myself up off of the floor because I have more enthusiasm than I have actual energy, and have taken on more work than I can physically and emotionally handle, have over-extended myself and have fallen apart . . . . .  Ahhhh . . . owning one's own business . . . . ain't it grande??!!!

See you tomorrow with some great stuff on some really groovy people.

Image courtesy Keep and Share

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Want It Wednesday: La Vie En Rose

Photos courtesy Magis Gallery, 1stdibs, DejaVu a Deux, Ruby Lane, and Objets Plus Inc.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody

I know in my head that the best things in life aren't things. The best things are supposed to be experiences and relationships and junk like that - Right?!  But BOY, in my heart I would love to have one of these things!  I would also sell my pancreas for half the talent and imagination that Jeanne Bayol and Jean-Marie MarĂ©cha possess.

Deep in the heart of Provence, along the foothills of the Chaine des Alpilles Mountains, there are some of the most beautiful gypsy caravans in the world being restored by these two.  During the restoration process, Jeanne and Jean-Marie try to make sure and honor the essence of these marvelous pieces by staying true to the history that the caravans hold.  I can't help but feel a sense of mystery and enchantment of times past when I look at these sacred gypsy spaces. It seems to me that the idea of traveling towards the unknown is what inspires and sparks my imagination.  After all, isn't that what the gypsy's spirit entails? Jeanne and Jean-Marie want to capture just that in their restorations, which is what they call "a subtle mix of temporary and eternal." 

Apparently, it has now become quite posh to accessorize one's gardens with these lovely caravans.  Others, I've discovered, use them for a tea room, a guest house, a playhouse, or just a nice escape to sit and read a book. All are options I find simply delightful! 

Jeanne Bayol, a native of Provence, is a woman of many talents.  She can transform any event with her Bohemian touch, whether it be professional like fairs, seminars, or festivals, she can decorate private interiors, as well.  Her sense of color and creative taste have led her to design clothes that are genuinely unique and bear witness to the liberty to dress oneself in an audacious fantasy.  You can find images and information on those here.  She is also a prolific writer and those titles can be found here.

Photos courtesy Gipsybazar, Les-Verdines, and Jeanne Bayol

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Punch Buggy!!

In an attempt to expose you guys to as much fun, imaginative junk as you can possibly stand, I would like to share some images that I came across from a couple of my favorite designers.

This is the "Bokja Bug" and it was created by Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri of Bokja Design. These wildly talented designers have taken an iconic Volkwagen Beetle and covered it entirely in a patchwork of handmade vintage fabrics from the Middle East, tapestries, and car stickers.  It was on display at Spazio Rossana Orlandi during Milan Design Week 2010.

The 'Bojka Bug' was auctioned off on Ebay this past April with all proceeds going to
benefit the children of Haiti.

Photos courtesy Designboom

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