It Was A Very Good Year

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Hello, it’s Joni – the face behind Cote de Texas.  I thought I‘d introduce myself for once – all professionally photoshopped, with 54 year old wrinkles and jowls miraculously removed and my image stretched vertically to make me look less……horizontal!    Thank God for photoshop!   Signing off on 2008 brings thoughts of this past year – a year in which Cote de Texas played a huge part in my life.   So many wonderful things have come my way because of this little design blog – the friendships made in real life and through emails, the support you brought with each and every comment (except that occasional nasty Anonymous!) and then there was the wealth of knowledge that came from reading your own blogs about design in your lives.  It’s a small, but growing community – the design blogs – a sisterhood (and brotherhood) dedicated to our homes and our love for them and for those of our friends.

Cote de Texas has become a passion – something which I feel a great responsibility to.   I think about it a lot, questioning my ability to keep you entertained:  what I will find to write about next, will I ever think of anything decent to blog about again?  Just knowing you are out there, clicking onto an old post drives me mad – I wish I could have something interesting and new to post three times a day, but three times a week is more the reality, unfortunately.  

Sometimes what goes on behind the scenes is funnier than what is written.   This year – the award for absurdity goes to a homeowner who shall remain nameless.  When I received gorgeous real estate photographs of her house in an email, and was informed it was up for sale – I naively shared it with you, of course!   The homeowner quickly wrote me, aghast, and demanded to know if I had broken into her home and taken pictures of it!!!  Uh, no.   I’m not THAT crazy for a new story line!    What a headline that would make:

Desperate for a new topic, blogger Cote de Texas broke into a Houston mansion to steal pictures of it to show her readers.   Arrested, she remains in jail, unable to post bail – her funds all dried up due to her incessant purchasing of French antiques.”

OK.  I’ll admit to suffering from writer’s block now and then, but trust me people, your homes are safe from me!   But, finding new topics to write about became somewhat harder this year.  2008 was the year of the Design Blog explosion.  Every day brought a new and exciting design blog to read and with each new blog, the competition for fresh material became just a little bit more intense.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started to write about something, only to discover three other bloggers had already covered the subject, and more adequately, too.  Still, somehow I managed to write a number of columns that you found interesting judging from the amount of comments and emails it garnered.   So, here, is a recap of 2008’s more popular Cote de  Texas stories.   I hope you enjoy revisiting these with me.  Follow the RED links to reread the story in its entirety, if you so desire.  And my favorite picks of the 2008 design blogs follows.

 

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Katrina refuges seek shelter in the Houston Astrodome.

I learned a big lesson this year.  Politics and design blogging don’t mix!   Not everyone, by a long shot,  who reads this blog wanted to hear how great Obama was.  Trust me on this!    When I wrote about President Bush and Hurricane Katrina in Gustav – The Bad, boy were the comments heated!  Quite a few of you threatened to never read my blog again after that post!   But it worked both ways.  A Republican blogger friend suffered the same exact threats from Democrats.   I learned, I learned!

 

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Kelly Wearstler, noted designer and author, is just one of the many famous interior designers fined in Florida.  

The one story that truly resonated with readers and created the most comments was ASID – An Agency Out of Control - a post written about Kelly Wearstler, among other notables, being fined in Florida for practicing without a license.   I was stunned to learn what is happening to interior designers in Florida and other states and it was a real eye opener to read how intrusive ASID has become.   Readers mostly agreed, though some pro-ASID people left comments too.  To date, there have been more than 200 comments left, debating the issue of the state licensing of interior designers.  The battle still rages on, but the anti-ASID side seems to be making the most strides.

 

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Hunkering Down with Ike

Another popular storyline and a more poignant one was the series about Hurricane Ike.   I was deeply touched by all the well wishes and prayers you sent our way during Ike.   I can’t express how much your comments meant to my family, even though I didn’t have the electricity to read them and had to resort to using my car battery to charge up my laptop!  As I write this now, our fence is finally being replaced from Ike’s damage – but we were the lucky ones.   Galveston and Bolivar Island suffered greatly and still suffer today.

  

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The beautiful oaks trees and houses of Galveston’s Historical  District.

Remember those beautiful trees from the Historical Districts in Galveston that you commented on?    All those gorgeous trees are now dead, killed by the salt water during Ike.   I can’t bear to think how terrible it must be for that neighborhood, many of those oak trees were planted right after the Great Storm.   In an interesting side note to the Galveston story, one reader was motivated by the pictures to purchase a second home in the historical district!  Lucky girl!

  

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The Wheat’s beautiful kitchen.

So many of you enjoyed Stalking the Wheats in West University and at their Beach House – Bolivar Style.   I still get emails about their house and specifically their kitchen paint color:  Benjamin Moore Fieldstone, btw!  In all – those two stories generated lots of comments and private emails and Sally Wheat became a bit of a celebrity with Cote de Texas readers.  Luckily their Bolivar beach house survived Ike.

  

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The Toile Peugeot!

New Car Blues (and white) was another one you commented on.   But more interesting was the fact that so many design bloggers love the vintage Jeep Wagoneer.  Let’s start a petition to bring it back!

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Virtual Beach House #1 versus

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Virtual Beach House #2

I never can anticipate what story you will like or reject, and sometimes your choice is surprising.  One such surprise was My Virtual Beach House.  Apparently, everyone has dreams of one day furnishing a second home too!    You voted on whether you liked Beach House #1 or #2 best.  House #2 won.

 

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The beautiful living room from the popular movie Something’s Gotta Give.

My all-time favorite topic to write about is the Something’s Gotta Give beach house – and I’ve done it as much as humanly possible.  So many people had emailed me about that house that I decided to write a blog on how to achieve the same look in your own home in Beach House-Series #4, Hamptons House.   My dream is to one day write an entire book about that movie beach house!!

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Nancy Lancaster’s Famous Butta Yellow Drawing Room

The answer to that aged-old decorating dilemma – To Clutter or Not to Clutter remains elusive to me and, apparently,  to lots of you too!!  It seems a number of people can’t decide if they want to live in a cozy, cluttered home or in a slick, clean and spare interior.  I’m still undecided – what about you?

 

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The Infamous Miles Redd Slipcover

When Decorno wrote that she hated this skirted table in a Miles Redd interior, I felt a need to defend it in Skirted Tables.   After Decorno responded, the war of words was on and comments flew from my blog to hers and back again.   Never has such a silly topic gotten so heated!

 

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And finally - Thank Yous to Bloggers, Readers, and Stalkers!, a recap of the year’s emails and gifts I received deserves a reading if you missed it the first go round.  If you have ever sent me a picture of your home, it probably was included here!

Here is my list of favorite new blogs in 2008.   There is one for each month – it was hard to limit it to just 12, all the new blogs are great!!!  In no particular order, in fact the last one is favorite:

Velvet and Linen – What can I say about Brooke Giannetti?  Beautiful, talented, sweet, warm.  Her blog is phenomenal, her talent even more so.  The first time I read hers I thought, “well, it’s been fun writing mine.”  Brooke lives a fairy tale life in two beautiful homes she and her architect husband created.  Read it and often – you will be amazed.

Visual Vamp – Another dynamo, Valorie Hart is an interior designer, florist, tango dancer, inn keeper – you name it, she’s done it.  Her blog is the stream of consciousness that flows from her intellectual brain.  I adore her!

Cheap Chic – A 17 year old writes about fashion.  OK, it’s not design, but she’s my daughter!!!!!  oy!

The Lettered Cottage – Layla is redoing her darling cottage and we get front row seats.  Catch her now – she’s probably going to be HGTV’s next Design Star!!!

Color Outside the Lines -  Artie, working and decorating and gardening in upstate New York.   He’s a doll – the sweetest there is.

Simply Seleta – Seleta lives in Florida’s wonderful northwest area.  Beautiful with 4 beautiful little ones living in a beautiful house.

Renee Finberg – is an interior designer from Florida.  A wealth of knowledge, her blog is exotic and heady.  Worth a daily visit!

Lime in the  Coconut – Florida again.  Linda writes about beaches, hotels in sunny spots, her house, and her tropical style.  Delightful!

Canyon Wren Cottage – Texas!  Austin!  A recap of real estate happenings in the Hill Country. 

Willow Decor – Swedish gray and white all the way.   Lots of yummy eye candy.

Harmony and Home – A Californian interior designer blogs about interior design.   Rebecca’s story on the Golden Mean is first rate.

French Essence – France, Provence, Vicki Archer, The Book, The Blog – Vicki leads the life we all dream for!!!!

Here is wishing all of you and yours a Happy and Very Healthy New Years!!!!    I am looking forward to sharing 2009 with all of you!!!

Hanukkah – Cote de Texas Style

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Ready and waiting for the overcooked beef tender and soggy potato latkes!

 

I promised I would show the pictures from my family Hanukkah party this year.    Unlike my husband’s Webb Family Christmas which means 3 to 4 gifts for everyone, the Cohen Family Hanukkah party is more subdued, thankfully!!!!!    The adults all pick names on Thanksgiving, with a limit around $50 to $100 per gift, but you can go over or under if you find just the right thing.  The grandchildren each get a present from all the adults.    I have tried to institute picking names in the Webb Family, and one year we did do it, except Ben’s mother cheated and bought presents for everyone!   So, we went back to not picking names.  With the economy getting so scary, I think picking names is a wonderful way to keep the holiday season manageable, so maybe in 2009 we’ll try it again at the Webb Family Christmas.  

For the Cohen Family’s Hanukkah, we served beef tender, potato latkes, salad, and green beans.   Dessert was a tiramisu picked up from Carrabba’s.   Unfortunately, the beef tender was a disaster this year, as it was totally overcooked!   I like my meat well done, but beef tender is NOT supposed to be that way.  Sorry guys, next year it will be better!   Latkes are a universal problem for Jews everywhere.   They only really taste delicious when someone stands over the stove and fries them right before they are eaten.    Of course, then your house stinks like stale grease for about a week – it’s awful!!!   Plus, its hugely labor intensive, someone has to peel and prepare enough potatoes to feed a small army  and then the cook might as well not even be at the party – she’s just busy frying at the hot stove.   So -----  a lot of people make their latkes early, or pick them up from a deli, and then heat them up.   Unfortunately, ours were not really crispy this year.    Oh well, the point of any holiday is getting together with family and having fun, but still, you do want the food to be good.   Each year is a learning experience for me as I am not the best of cooks.  And, I promise to get new baking sheets and have them ready to go next year.  (Don’t ask!)    I serve buffet style off the kitchen table where there is plenty of room to spread everything out.

 

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The only preparation in the living room were fresh flowers and a few lit candles.   I used peach roses and white tulips in this room.  I love my reflection in the mirror – still in my sweats!

 

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The “adult” table.

 

At the “adult” table – I used pink roses to match my china.   Since I have an oval skirted table in my dining room, I really can’t fit a lot of people at the table, so I put out a couple of extra tables around the house.  This year we were missing a few people – so I only needed two tables.  Actually  - this is a perfect time to discuss skirted tables and dinner parties!   Underneath the white linen table cloth is my silk yellow skirt that I use daily.   But, in order to protect it against food and water spills,  when entertaining,  I first cover it with a plastic waterproof, table liner with a felt backing.   These can be bought at places like Bed Bath and Beyond.   You just cut them with scissors to fit the table.  Over this, I then place the white table cloth – or any other festive cloth for the occasion.  This way – if someone spills a glass of wine, I don’t have to worry about my “real” table skirt being damaged.  Whenever I have a client that wants to use a skirted table in the dining room, we go over this procedure in detail.  It’s a “must”  - skirted table cloths are not made to be eaten off!!   (Alyse – are you taking notes?)

 

 

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Pink roses, wooden dreidels and chocolate gelt.

 

On the tables I spread chocolate coins or gelt, a Hanukkah tradition for the kids.   Also, I put out a handful of little wooden dreidels for some holiday spirit.    There is one interesting tidbit about my china.   When I got married, I chose the same china that my mother, my two aunts and my sister all had!   This way, in our family, we have a huge set of place settings in one pattern.   As long as you all like the same pattern – it’s a great way to accumulate a large set of china – in case you ever have the Russian Army for a dinner party.   It’s hard to see in this picture, but the rim of the china is a celadon green color, so I used fun green colored wine glasses and put the napkins in the bubble water glasses (before the water was poured, of course – I’m not quite that inept.)

 

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The “kids” table.

 

The “kids” table is right across from the dining room – I actually used my wine table that is usually here and my breakfast room chairs.  The table is set exactly the same as the “adult” table.    I do have several  round office conference tables that I store in my infamous garage that seat 8 or 10 for when the crowd is bigger.  The wine table is a little wobbly, but it was the perfect size to use this time.   This year the party was a little early – set for 5:00 p.m. because we have a new baby in the family!!!

 

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AWWWWW, here she is, my great niece – Laine !!!   Can you help but smile?   She’s six months old and she arrived in her new pink coat and hat that was a gift from her great grandmother, my mother.   Isn’t she just the cutest thing!!!!  The other cute thing in the picture is her uncle, my nephew, Jeffrey.   Still available, ladies!

 

 

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Laine’s father, my nephew Philip, and her great grandmother, Nana, get ready for Laine’s first Hanukkah.

 

 

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Here we go! 

Usually, the youngest in the family says the prayers in Hebrew and English and then lights the menorah, but since Laine didn’t know the prayers and my daughter was away for her BBYO Regional Convention, the prayer lighting fell to Philip.   That’s my mother and father and my nephew Jeffrey, on the right, who doesn’t look too happy here for some reason -  I think he just anxious for his present!!!!

 

 

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Everyone got Laine a present, of course.   Philip is smiling because he’s glad he won’t have to buy her anything new for a while.  That’s my sister Cathy, the new grandmother, and Allison, Laine’s mom. 

 

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Watching Laine open her gifts – the three biggest UT Football fans in the world:   Ben, my brother in law Robert, and Jeffrey, still waiting for gifts!!!

 

 

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Ben, Elisabeth and I gave Laine this rocker toy.  I think she really liked it.   I thought it would look cute in her nursery – always worried about design.

 

 

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She really liked it!!!   In case you like it too, I ordered it online from a Dallas store – www.roomservicebyannfox.com.

 

We had our party on the first night of Hanukkah.   For the next 7 nights, we lit the menorah ourselves while Elisabeth was gone and then with her when she came back.    It’s really pretty on the 8th night, when all the candles are lit, but it’s always a little sad that it’s over for another year.  Sunday was the final night.    I’m sure it’s the same feeling at your house the day after Christmas when it’s all over after all the planning and decorating and cooking.    We spend Christmas at my sister in law’s ranch and it is such fun, but it all goes by so fast.   There is always lots of laughs and great food – so much food that we all need to go on a diet by New Years.     Every Christmas Eve, they have a dinner party for the family.   My sister-in-law, her sister and their mother put on quite a feast.  Here’s a peek at her table this year:

 

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 My sister-in-law’s dining room is part of a big living area – so she can have a large table with all the leaves in place – something I would really like one day.  Everyone fits around one table, even all the children, which is so nice.  

 

 

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Holding the flowers is a large silver epergne – something you get for a wedding gift and then put away, which is a shame because epergnes are so beautiful and make such wonderful centerpieces!!  Also, she put out three sets of mercury glass candleholders with gold candles and lots of holly and pomegranates.

 

 

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Each place setting was marked with a gold charger, and the napkin rings were made of velvet roses.  She used red crystal stemware and her Christmas china.  She served beef tender which was properly cooked, and yes, I took a lesson from her!!  There was also a to-die-for cornbread casserole type dish that was out of this world.    But the best thing of all was a coconut cream cake that her sister’s husband baked.  We finished it all off, it was so delicious.  There was plenty of beef tender left over, so it made great sandwiches for a few days.   One thing I know – I’ll eat really great when I go to the country for the Webb Christmas.

 

A few of you have asked to see pictures of the KW Ranch.  If you are interested in seeing the ranch,  I wrote about it last year.  Follow the link HERE to see those pictures.   I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza!!    We’re looking forward to the New Year and the UT Bowl game, go Horns!!!!!

A Swedish Treat For A Cold, Winter Night!

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As seen in the new French Elle Decor.   Since I don’t speak French – I can only surmise what the captions say!  Two Swedish antique dealers chose the Gustavian style for their home.  I love this picture of the enfilade – or rooms that are set up next to each other, without any halls.  This enfilade is comprised of three different rooms, at least.    I love how the floors are untreated – or I should probably say “look” untreated.  I suspect it took a lot of work to make these floors look so perfectly raw!!    While Americans think of Gustavian furniture as mostly painted gray – red paint was another popular finish as the chair in this picture shows.

 

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A living area is furnished with gray painted consoles and table.    The arm chairs wear a blue checked fabric on the back.  The walls are faux painted.  Notice the beautiful oils – especially the round portrait on the fireplace.   A tall clock is to the right – not the typical Swedish Mora clocks Americans are so used to.  I think this room is very charming!

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Looking into the dining room and onto the kitchen area.  Here you can see how the faux painting actually is two toned, imitating a wainscoting.  The crystal chandelier is a  hallmark of a Gustavian interior. 

 

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A beautiful set of dishes behind a glass fronted cabinet.

 

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A wonderful gilt clock hangs from the wall over a Gustavian chest.  The ribbed wood is typical of Gustavian decoration.

 

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Small round table, armoire and chandelier.   Notice the thick Belgian type linen napkins and the adorable iron wine holder – these holders are popular items at antique shops.

 

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Two pairs of barrel back Swedish chairs share space with a gilt and marble console.  These types of chairs were very popular then, as they are today. Notice the beautiful clock on the console.    The shades are simple white linen, a typical authentic Swedish design.

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The Salon is a gorgeous room – the long Swedish sofa is gray with a gilded shell motif.  There are at least three mirrors, one rests on the settee.  Notice the candles attached to the mirror – this form of sconce was popular in Sweden – a very dark country during the winter – this way, the candlelight was reflected causing maximum illumination.  Just beautiful. 

Merry Merry Happy Happy!

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Ben, Elisabeth, and me at the KW Ranch, Chappell Hill, Texas – don’t we look cute?  I’m on the left, Ben’s on the right and Lizzy is in the middle – just in case you didn’t recognize us.

 

The three of us Webbs have left for Ben’s brother and sister-in-law’s ranch in Chappell Hill for Christmas in the Country.  It’s always so much fun when Hanukkah and Christmas collide like they do this year.  It’s a gift extravaganza for the kids!  I schlep the Menorah and candles and my Radco dreidels, given to me by my sister-in-law whose entire Christmas tree is covered with Radco and Old World ornaments. 

 

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What’s wrong with this picture?  Elisabeth lighting the Hanukkah candles for the night in front of the Christmas tree while her cousins are waiting for Santa Claus!   Actually Elisabeth loves the chance to share her holiday with her cousins!!

 

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The Radco-laden tree with just a few of the gifts.

 

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My nephew Wills Webb’s tree is always Mexican inspired – topped with a vintage sombrero!

 

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Some of the gifts.

 

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And more!

 

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And more.

 

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And more!  Hmmm – I like those two orange Hermes boxes myself!   Tomorrow when the rest of the Webbs come, there will be even more presents!!  I told you it was an extravaganza that we swear every year we won’t repeat!!!

 

 

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Aw, the two besties – my niece Caroline and my daughter Elisabeth – even though there is five years between them, they get along great.

 

I hope everyone is settled in for the night – wherever you are going!  Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a wonderful Kwanza or whatever you celebrate!  AND most importantly, here’s to a happy and HEALTHY New Year’s!!!   More dispatches to come from the KW Ranch – that is, after Santa leaves. 

Deck the Walls with Lighted Menorahs, or What I’ve Been Doing While You’ve Been Decorating for Christmas!

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This past month I’ve watched with awe as blogger after blogger after blogger posted the most gorgeous pictures of their homes all dressed up in their Christmas finery!  It’s amazing and inspiring to watch the effort, care and love that is put into holiday decorating.  The hard work really pays off – the pictures posted on the design blogosphere have been beautiful!!    A few Cote de Texas readers have emailed me wondering will I be decorating for Christmas.   The quick and easy answer is no.    As many of you know, we are Jewish and we celebrate Hanukkah at home, not Christmas.  But, do Jewish people even decorate for Hanukkah?    No, not really,  although people like Martha Stewart  have tried to create that image.  Families with young children might put up festive blue and white lights, but usually Hanukkah is a very low key affair.   In fact, I know of only one family that decorates their house for Hanukkah.  While glorious Christmas decorations can make a design-obsessed Jewish girl a little envious - make no mistake, it is a badge of honor and extreme ethnic pride to not decorate.    

 

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A beautiful antique menorah – the centerpiece of Hanukkah.

 

This month I started wondering, why do people decorate their houses for Christmas but not Hanukkah?  One reason may be that Christmas is the holiest day of the year for Christians.  Yet, Santa Claus is a very important part of the holiday.  Many decorations are either Nativity Scenes or Santa-related.  Hanukkah, by comparison, is really a very minor holiday marked without much fanfare.  You don’t go the temple for Hanukkah, in fact, it is not even mentioned in the bible!   It was only in this century that Hanukkah become commercialized and is now referred to as the Jewish Christmas.   For the children, gift giving, one present a night for eight nights, is the highlight of the holiday.   In this way, the two holidays are alike.  But gift giving is not the only way that Hanukkah and Christmas are similar.   Hanukkah is a time to get together with your family, say the prayers and light the Menorah, eat some delicious food like the traditional latkes, or potato pancakes, and just have a good time.  Both holidays are the same in the most important way – celebrating with family.    But decorating the home for the holidays remains a major difference between the two December celebrations.  Drive at night through a neighborhood and the streets are ablaze with colored, twinkling lights, red and white candy canes, and faux reindeer made of wood.    The one dark house on the street will probably be lived in by the Jewish family!   I think I have finally solved the riddle of why there are Christmas decorations!   This way Santa knows which house to go to and which house to leave for Hanukkah Harry!

Note:  to read my blog from last year on the history of Hanukkah and antique Judaica, go here.

 

   image    Southern Accents got into the Hanukkah decorating act this year.   As you can see – it is a very low-key event, design-wise.  A few blue glasses and viola – Hanukkah decorations!

 

So, for moi, while others are getting their houses ready for Christmas, I am also busy tidying up my house for my big entertaining event of the year - Hanukkah.   My sister Cathy loves to entertain and does so beautifully and with great ease, but I dread such events.  I worry about every detail, and fret over each dirty window and unorganized closet – as if my guests will be dining in one!    Cathy takes care of most of the entertaining responsibilities in our family, thank God, and her daughter-in-law, my niece Allison, is swiftly proving herself quite capable in following her lead.   That leaves me with just two major family holiday entertaining events:  the Hanukkah dinner party and Father’s Day Brunch.   Quit laughing!    To me the menu is always secondary to the flowers and place settings and Ben likes to say that each event costs him a fortune because he knows I’ll be doing more “dreckorating” than cooking!   And sure enough, I’ve been finding myself making changes around the house getting ready for the main event this Sunday – the first night of Hanukkah.    So, while I can’t show you the most fabulous Christmas tree in the world, I can show you the latest furniture changes I’ve made.

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At a temple with a gorgeous marble floor, a rabbi lights the Hanukkah candles.

 

We underwent a small kitchen remodeling this past month, and that has really spurned me on to take a critical look at the adjoining rooms.   Being a major nester, I’m always picking up accessories for this or that room.  After a while, it gets a little crowded and needs some culling, just like the deer population.  My family room has lately been bulging at the seams and was in great need of  a sharpshooter to come rid it of the overgrowth.  Rather than call on Sarah Palin to do the dirty deed, I did it myself.  It’s always hard for me to banish loved objects to that great wasteland that is my garage, but this year, with the kitchen all fresh and clean, it’s been somewhat easier.

My family room has seen many different designs during the past 15 years.  I’ll spare you the earlier the versions such as the English inspired room with bamboo and wicker and red paisley and toile everywhere ala Lynn Von Kersting.    A few years ago, after a home tour in West University of a most beautiful house, I banished all the reds and khakis and went white with black and gold accents.  Last year I added trendy zebra pillows and the suzani to update the look.  The blue and white porcelains have been, and will remain, a constant.

 

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This was how it’s been looking this year – filled to the gills.   It’s just too much and trust me – I had already done a lot of culling at this point!  More deleting still needs to be done.

 

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This is how the right side of the family room looked before today.  The suzani covers an antique wine tasting table that was once my breakfast room table.  Again, this is just too piled up with books and globes.  For years Ben and I have been collecting the antique maps and engravings of Israel and the Middle East that are hanging 0n the wall,  but they are going to go on vacation for a while.  The suzani is going to where all trends die – EBay!   Enough with suzanis for the next decade! Even Michael Smith who started the suzani craze has moved away from them – just as Target has discovered them.

                                                                                    

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Today – this is how it looks.  I took away the extra side chairs next to the big white chairs and rearranged the shelves somewhat.   I pushed the sofa back towards the windows to make more room – I don’t know why it was so far away from the windows to being with.   Without the two side chairs and with the sofa pushed back, it immediately looks so much bigger and cleaner. 

 

 

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The right side today– much cleaner and less cluttered, though it definitely is not minimalist.  I can’t really live without some degree of clutter.  The wine tasting table looks so much better with the bulky suzani gone.  The lamp was changed out for the lighted lantern that once hung on the wall behind the sofa.  The big bowl of pictures moved here from the coffee table.  The prints were replaced with an antique mirror that was in my old kitchen.  The globes are on the shelves now, but Ben’s been hinting that he bought me another one for Hanukkah, oy!

 

 

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And looking down from the stairs.   Now, the big issue is the coffee table.  We bought this table for our anniversary when we moved here – it’s an old Irish dining room table cut down by the crazy Irishman with a shop in Montrose.   My sister bought one too, as did a number of my clients.  I love the table and all, but I would like something more refined now – maybe a black chinoiserie tea table?    I tried an extra wine tasting table of mine there that is pretty low and I thought it looked great, but Ben insisted it was too high for him to see the TV over it.   Trust me, it wasn’t.   One rather nasty fight happened over this coffee table – for some reason he’s particularly attached to it while I’m so over it.  He uses it as an ottoman, so I think I might get a large rectangular slipcovered ottoman as a compromise.  Maybe something like Suzanne Rheinstein’s famous race tract ottoman like this: 

 

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I love her ottoman – so it’s a possibility.  If fact, I love this room!  The chairs are to die for, the fabrics are subtle and beautiful – it’s one of my favorites of Rheinstein’s interiors.

 

 

 

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I really like this ottoman too with its long skirt that Jane Moore designed for her daughter, the owner of Wisteria. I suppose I’ll let Ben pick which one he likes best.  Maybe. 

 

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The other change downstairs, beside the kitchen, is the foyer.  I went years and years with no center table, but I always knew I would put one there.  As soon as I had an extra table, I moved it to the entry hall.     I finally had a stage for my vintage birdcage.   Here it was with the two Mary McDonald inspired blue and white pots and my lilac transferware and way too many chairs, books and just too, too much.  The transferware moved up to the guest bedroom.

 

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The guest room with the moved transferware.   The lilac color looks so much better here with the seafoam green. 

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Look what interior designer Jackye Lanham did with her lilac transferware!  I love, love, love this!  Lanham likes to decorate with plates – something that I can completely relate to!

 

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Before:  This tablescape is one of my favorite of the bunch.  I think the hydrangea is gorgeous here with all the blue and white and I added one piece of blue opaline from my collection for color pop.  But there isn’t always a hydrangea like this available – and it died, plus Ben brought home a white orchid to replace it.  And there was this urn that needed a landing spot…..

 

 

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Today’s changes:   the birdcage moved on to greener pastures.  The white urn now takes center stage and the large white orchid that Ben bought takes the place of the blue hydrangea.  I like the hydrangea better than the orchid, so I’ll switch that back when possible.  But what do you think – should I put the birdcage back (ugh, no!)  and move the white urn somewhere else?  What do you think – I’m conflicted.   I wish I had a large blue hydrangea to take the picture with the urn to show you the true look.  

 

So, these are my decorating changes before the big Hanukkah party Sunday night.   The living room and dining room passed muster, for now.   Next blog– the kitchen!    I'll show you the befores and afters.  We didn’t do a big remodeling, just some updating here and there, so don’t expect a lot!!  And then, after the Hanukkah party – I’ll show you my table settings.   And don’t worry, I won’t bore you with any recipes!

 

One last note on holiday decorating.    When I casually mentioned on another blog feeling a little left out design-wise during December, my dear friend Valorie Hart aka Visual Vamp wrote the most gorgeous piece on decorating a Jewish house for the holidays.  Please be sure to stop by and read Visual Vamp’s article here for some great ideas which I would love to incorporate in my Hanukkah celebrations.   And here is what has to be the cutest Christmas tree of this year :  Visual Vamp’s -  A Breakfast at Tiffany’s Christmas in New Orleans!

 

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Visual Vamp’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s Christmas in New Orleans.  And yes, those are real Tiffany boxes she bought on EBay. 

 

 

And now, for something completely different:  Would you like to be the next Eddie Ross?

 

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Who wouldn’t?  Cote de Texas recently received an email from HGTV – and no, they weren’t looking for any of my brilliant design advice! – they are looking for the next Eddie Ross.  If you think you might be interested in submitting a video application for next season’s Design Star – please go here.   If you do win – you get to star in your own TV series on HGTV!   Good luck to those who do apply!