Odds, ends, and a recipe

Its Christmas Eve eve, the work week is done, and I'm in good shape for my weekend. I do need to make one run to the grocery store which I will do tomorrow when I'm rested and more likely to withstand the crowd.

I want to wish you a merry Christmas on Sunday, or a happy Chanukah right now, or whatever you celebrate, may it be everything you hope for.

I also missed posting something I do every December 15th, so to a certain man out there who reads the blog I'd like to say one more time, happy anniversary baby. 14 years, who would have thought.

And finally, a little gift to everyone reading who needs a vegetable side for the weekend. Not exactly a recipe because I don't really measure things out, but here's how I do brussels sprouts, and they're always a hit:

You'll need:
1/2 of a white onion, thinly sliced
3-4 strips of bacon (I like thick and peppery), diced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Sprouts (I usually get a full third of a plastic produce bag)
Decent olive oil, but don't feel like you have to use super-good stuff
white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of a good stone-ground or french mustard

Set your oven to 350 if you're going to roast. With no oven I use a crock pot on high and it seems to work just fine.

Clean your sprouts by removing bad leaves, and make a fresh cut on the end, then cut them all in half unless they're small and bite-sized.

In your skillet brown the bacon until its crispy. Remove. You may pour off the excess fat if you wish, frankly I leave most of it in. Fat is delicious.

Melt butter in same pan, add onions, and cook until they're golden and soft. Add bacon back, and sprouts. Move everything around to coat the sprouts in the butter and onion, and cook for a few minutes until the sprouts get some color on them.

While sprouts are cooking, mix about 1/3 cup of olive oil, about the same amount of white wine vinegar, and the mustard. Voila, vinegrette.

When the sprouts have some color (5-7 minutes maybe) remove from heat. Pour vinegrette over and toss to coat. Pour everything into roasting pan, and finish in the oven until tender but not mushy. I'd say 30-45 minutes, but you should test with a knife or a toothpick. Or do what I do and eat one every few minutes.

If you're trying the crockpot like me the time is about the same. Last time mine went a bit over an hour and I would have liked them a little more firm. Just test and go until they're as done as you like them. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve em up warm and enjoy.

Somebody please buy these

Currently on eBay, Edward Wormley for Dunbar, here. 32" wide, 15" deep, 25" tall. The Buy It Now is $2200, offers also accepted. Local pickup in Chicago.

They'd go lots of places, I think they'd be super as nightstands.


The bathroom we just renovated is large, but because its a Hollywood bath between two bedrooms the layout is limited. Two doors, a window, sink, shower and toilet didn't leave a lot of room for storage. Using a pedistal sink rather than a vanity didn't help, although I'm totally in love with that sink.

So we needed a storage piece that would fit into one specific corner. This is Restoration Hardware's Shutter bath cabinet. We took a look at it, vaguely thought it might fit, but for just over a grand we didn't bother to measure.

Fast forward to Christmas shopping. We needed to pick up a few things that Resto on the Plaza was out of, so we headed out to the Leawood store. Imagine our surprise when the sign said the store was closing. Imagine our further surprise when everything in the store was half off.

That was enough for us, we drove immediately back home to measure to see if it would work. It would, and we bought it. The only disappointment is that we can't actually go get it until January 21st, when the store finally shuts it all down. They said they need to maintain the store's look until closing day, which seems a bit ridiculous to me. Everything is there, but everything is marked sold.

I asked why the store was closing and the lady said the company was closing all stores not in historic buildings. Apparently they closed two in Houston and opened one new one in a former US Post Office building. Houstonians, is that true?

I have no idea why they're doing it, if you know anything I'd love to hear. I do have a theory. I think they know they've gotten a bit of a rep for knocking off great old things. For basically being imitators. I think they're trying to give their repros a bit more weight by putting their stores in locations with some architectural pedigree.

Again, just a theory, and not even one I think will work. But I'm not a stickler for provenance on everything I own, and often find something I like. Mostly I'm just glad the store nearest Chez Malaise is staying open.

And its not even Christmas yet

Its been a really good week. I won the Patch NYC candle giveaway from Hello Gorgeous and Boxwood Home in Rehoboth Beach! I happened to be home yesterday afternoon when the UPS man pulled up and I couldn't wait to open my package. Its the triple wick stag candle, and it smells fantastic, piney and clean. I even got extra matches, which I really dig. I have a Zippo candle lighter, but there's just something about using a book of matches that feels good.

You should take a look at Boxwood Home's website for candles or anything else you might need to spruce up your place. I literally don't see anything I wouldn't want to own.

One of these days I hope to visit Rehoboth Beach (its a world gay heritage site you know) and when I do this will be my first stop. Unless I manage to track down the address for HG's beach house, then I'm stopping there first to demand gin and tonic, then a ride to Boxwood Home on the back of her Vespa. Thank you to HG and Boxwood Home!

Boxwood Home

39 Baltimore Avenue

Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

The other cool thing that happened was my company's holiday lunch. We're privately held, and as such we're treated really well. So well in fact, that in the year you hit your ten year anniversary, which I did in September, you get recognized at the holiday lunch with a gift.

Rather than a catalog of stuff you really can't get excited about (like my 10 year pocket multi-tool I got when I worked at Sprint), we get to make an appointment with Kansas City's old-guard jeweler, Tivol, to pick out a watch.

Before you think it's all crazy and limitless, it's not. But what the company pays is truly generous, and we're welcome to add to it ourselves to get the timepiece we really want. I banked my tax refund this year in anticipation and for not even all of that ended up with something I really love, my steel Rolex GMT-Master II.

Inscribed with our company logo, a 10 year anniversary notation and my initials, I put it back in the box to take a picture. Even the box and paperwork are beautiful. And other than when I'm asleep that's the longest it's been off my wrist since noon on Wednesday.

I know just how incredibly lucky I am to work where I do, where we're treated so generously and graciously, and it really is an organization I'm happy to be a part of.

The 2011 MidMal Gift Guide

I can't believe its already December. I've mentioned before that we cap Christmas pretty low around here, but if we were made of money here are some things I'd ask for as well as give.

For the boys:

I mentioned this once before, and I'm still in love with this topcoat from LBM1911. You might be familiar with Lubiam for their men's suiting. This is their less constructed line, but you still get super Italian tailoring and fabrication. From the Aficionado Shop at Haberdash in Chicago. Not cheap, and I'm betting totally worth it.
I tend to go for umbrellas that are small, black and cheap because I lose them. For those who can keep track of their stuff how about this: Blackwatch, lined in orange, with a maple handle and shaft and silver ferrule. A collaboration between London Undercover and Michael Williams of the blog A Continuous Lean. Available here.
This summer my company moved downtown, and gone was convenient parking just a 3 floor elevator ride away. No longer able to run to the car for anything I needed I began carrying a small man bag. SO NICE to not have pockets crammed with whatever I need for the day. This is the No. 95 shoulder satchel from Billykirk. I had a different bag from them that I ended up eBaying because it was too small for what I needed to carry, but I can attest to the quality. These things are well made, he (or you) will have it for years. Here.

This year my jewelry pick is supremely casual. This is the hook bracelet from Miansai. Available in lots of colors and quite a few designs, the simplicity of this one is my favorite. Stack it over a really nice watch.

I always have a bandana around for covering my head while I paint. This bleach dye-printed one by Grei, availble from Unionmade in San Francisco is fantastic. Like a scarf, only smaller. It comes crinkled and rolled. I'd tie it loose around my neck, almost like a necklace, under a casual button-front shirt.

Speaking of casual button-front shirts, here's a sweet blue plaid also available at Unionmade. Its the Shorthorn Shirt in indigo flannel check from Levi's Vintage Clothing. Not your regular Levi stuff, until recently LVC was hard to find in the US. I'm glad to see it's become more available here.

There is no piece of clothing I like more than jeans, and I know I'm not alone. Why not wear something not everyone else has. This is the Cutter jean from Denham the Jeanmaker in Amsterdam. Their washes are done by artisans in Italy and Japan. Available online obviously. Also, next time you have an afternoon to kill, hit the website and click on the Denham Garment Library. These guys are clothes geeks as well as collectors, and their obsession makes for hours of interesting reading.

Since I've very nearly put together a whole outfit, how about some boots to finish it off. I think most men like boots, and I like ankle boots especially. These distressed leather side-zips, the James boot from Frye, would be super easy to wear with almost anything. Check his size, I think Frye runs about a half size small. I know my Frye harness boots do. Again, there are sales everywhere, google for the best price.

For the house:

I know, Restoration Hardware is responsible for the linen-and-oak'ing of America and we're all kind of tired of it. Still, every so often they do a repro I really like. For example, the 1930's Twin Raven Urn. In resin, you could use it inside or out, if your out was a covered porch or patio. At 29 inches tall it'll make an impact alone, even more so as a pair. Also, Resto is in the process of shutting down stores, not for poor performance, but rather to relocate to historic buildings. I've got some thoughts and would love to hear yours, I'll do a separate post soon.

How great are these. Nine inch, supremely simple crystal candlesticks by Thomas O'Brien for Reed and Barton. Google that phrase for the best deal as they're fairly widely available but the price points are all over the map. I got outbid on a pair of these by a dealer I knew at an auction a while back. There were other things in that lot, and I hope he made money on those things because I picked these up out of his booth for about what I'd bid. They look terrific next to a nickel plated lamp on the black Chinese cabinet in our living room. I bet someone you buy for has a perfect spot too.
Here's something I never thought I'd recommend, its the Horse Group from Lladro. Yes, its porcelain. That black glaze changes everything. They've always made beautiful things, they've just never made things I'd want to give or own. Until now. I think this piece is really interesting, then again, I have a bit of a thing for horse statuary.
While we're talking about art and gift giving, do you check out www.20x200.com? New art, every week, reasonably priced. Look often. Below is Jenny Odell's 1376 Cylindrical Industrial Buildings. Google Earth is her art supply store.

Did you know Thayer Coggin is still producing Milo Baughman designs? They are, and wouldn't a pair of these be super for anyone who's a fan of his work. See the website to find a dealer in your area.

Raina previewed these blackened aluminum horse heads back when they were new at West Elm, and I still dig them. Sold individually, you should buy a pair and give them as bookends.

And then here's an odd thing that I can't quite get out of my head. Remember when phones had cords? And the one in the kitchen had a really long cord? Sometimes I kind of miss the feel of that old handset. These, from Yubz, plug into your cell, and the colors are way better than anything we ever got from Southwestern Bell. Here.

Books are always a great gift. If someone on your list likes vintage clothing you're set. The third in Rin Tanaka's King of Vintage series, it's a pictorial examination of vintage clothing dealer Larry McKaughan's vast collection of American clothing and accessories. Available from either Amazon or currently from JCrew.

And finally, I ended last year's gift guide with a little vintage luxury courtesy of a sweet 76 Eldorado convertible in Innsbruck Blue. This year I'm in the mood for vintage muscle. This 71 Dodge Challenger looks fast standing still in white with black striping and tinted glass. Similar models (and convertibles!) fully restored run about 90 grand on eBay and might be the perfect way to soak up some excess cash. It could wreck both your driving record and your relationship with your insurance agent but its still supremely cool.

Whatever you celebrate, all of us here at Chez Malaise hope your holiday finds you happy, healthy, and surrounded by those you love. That's ultimately the best gift of all.

The good is everywhere

You might remember this post where I exposed an eBay seller with a price of over two grand on a Ralph Lauren Henredon buffet that I know he picked up on Craigslist for $400 or less.

I received an email the other day from a reader who found that post after buying the same piece and doing a little research. He picked up the buffet and the round mirror both for $200 at his local thrift shop.

They're great pieces and perfectly scaled for his space, and much more reasonably priced. Scott, congratulations to you and your Mrs. on a super deal.

I should also note that his email, the second really nice message I received last week, reminded me that people actually do read this blog. I was reluctantly thinking about giving up but seem to have found my second wind. Later this week, The MidMal Holiday Gift Guide, chock-full of good stuff for your house and your man.

In case you wanted something from Barneys

I'm more "Cyber Monday" than "Black Friday," and in case you are too, here's a cautionary tale. That shirt above? Its by Gitman Vintage, made from deadstock japanese indigo-dyed cloth, and as such, a limited release. I like it. I was going to order it from Unionmade in San Francisco, but they didn't have my size. I emailed to ask if they were expecting more, and they replied right back, sorry that they were not.

I found it at Barneys and I've ordered it twice. I've gotten a confirmation email, and then sometime after the expected delivery date I've received an email saying my order was cancelled. The first said there was a problem with my card (I checked, there's not). The second said they couldn't verify my shipping address (which I did enter correctly per the screen shot I printed). Customer Service has done nothing other than tell me "It's been picked, it just hasn't been shipped yet, you'll get an email when its on the way."

I tried it one last time last night. I used my debit card rather than AMEX, and had it shipped to the house rather than my office so the billing and delivery addresses were the same. Cross your fingers for me.

***UPDATE***My card has been charged, apparently 3rd time is the charm.

***UPDATE 2***Spoke too soon. Nothing yet, other than fruitless calls to Customer Service.

MidMal Reviews: Aruba

And we're back from Aruba. Eight days of this. (Seriously, every picture I took was from a beach chair).
Even the one I posted on the Facebook to wish everyone a happy halloween.

My thoughts? The weather is perfect. Its nearly always around 80 degrees with a constant breeze. And I'm not at all surprised that Eagle Beach (where our hotel was) consistently makes the list of top 10 beaches. White sand like sugar, clear turquoise water that's refreshing but not too cold, and seemingly never crowded. The occasional beefy boy in board shorts doesn't hurt either.

We liked the island. We didn't really do much with our days other than enjoy the beach, and that was fine (and super relaxing). Take sunscreen, the rays are strong. In the evenings we headed down to the high rise resort area. The local bus is easy and cheap, and if you don't want to do that cabs are everywhere. The casinos at the resorts are small but the blackjack tables were generally good to us. And while we're a bit old for it, there are lots of clubs for all the drinking and dancing you can stand.

We did take an excursion to an all-inclusive recreational island one day but it was pretty bad, so I won't even bother to tell you about it. The only other issue we had was the food. Expensive across the board and generally not very good. We had a kitchenette in our room and every intention of stopping at the grocery store for breakfast and lunch supplies, but it was easier to stay in our loungers and let Lucy bring us burgers and beers from the beach bar. We'll do it differently next time.

Very much geared toward Americans, English is spoken everywhere and your dollars are just fine, although part of your change may include Aruban coins. All in all a very easy trip to take, and I'd totally go back.

We're out

The next couple of days will be super busy, and then we're gone for a bit. When we get back I'm hoping to get on some furniture projects so posting should pick up. See you soon.

Ridiculously cute

Apparently the blue penguins that got caught in the oil spill in New Zealand benefit from a sweater while they await cleaning. Not only does it keep them warm, but it keeps them from preening and ingesting oil and sludge. A yarn shop in Napier posted a pattern and asked for help, and the sweaters are pouring in. I don't think animal first aid has ever been more adorable.

Enjoy your weekend!

Basic black

There's a third coat of poly to go on this, and then of course base moulding and such, but cute French Dan's crew is nearly done with the floors. We're very pleased with the results and nearly giddy at the thought we can move out of the master bedroom and back into the rest of the house.

Saturday night out

I turn 44 on Sunday. That being a sucky night of the week to celebrate anything, Brett's taking me to dinner Saturday night. I was told to choose anywhere I like, so I did (not McDonalds) and I'm looking forward to it. I'm also noticing a number of odd connections. Join me for a rambling, mildly interesting and ultimately pointless story all centering on one intersection in town won't you?

We're having dinner at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange at 20th and Main. They're having their first Rieger Invitational, a four course dinner prepared by chefs from four different restaurants in KC, Lawrence, St. Louis and Chicago.

This building is the parking lot where Port Fonda parks their Airstream and serves up Mexican street food every weekend. You know we love Port Fonda, The Facebook records a check-in for us nearly every weekend, and after drinks with my co-workers tonight I stopped for chilaquiles to soak up the scotch.

The restaurant is supposed to be very good, and in an old building called the Rieger Hotel. For years it was the Dixie Belle, KC's most infamous gay bar, with one of the nastiest (and frankly, most fun!) basements I've ever had a drink in.

The building was eventually bought and renovated with two very nice apartments upstairs and the restaurant space on the ground floor. The formerly filthy and scandalous basement was renovated (with industrial strength cleaners I'm sure) and became Ryan Mabee's speakeasy called Manifesto. There is also a two car garage off the back alley serving the larger (full 3rd floor/part of the 2nd floor plus the rooftop garden) apartment via both stairs and an elevator.

The building is currently for sale and you can see some photographs and the floor plans here. On the representing realtor's site the price is down to 1.85 million rather than the 2.1 on the information site. We toured the larger apartment on a downtown loft tour a few years ago. Its a beautiful renovation overall, although I think the fireplace in the main apartment is far too big, and the open shower in the master bath desperately needs floor to ceiling glass. The kitchen set up is a bit wonky for me, but it's nothing that couldn't be fixed. If I had a couple mil hanging around I could totally live there.

Except, and this is the final connection, it would kill me to pay the current owners anywhere near the list price. Who are they? I did some research and I believe it's the Omers. Yes, that wretched woman who's BMW convertible I yanked the bumper off while parking the Rover when I stopped to buy dog poop bags in Brookside.

Apparently they've moved to northern California where I hope she and her 325 continue to be battered by bad drivers and careless parkers. I'm sure the carrying costs aren't anything they can't handle, but I can't help but smile every time I see the For Sale sign. Yeah, the market's been hard, but what she's putting out into the world isn't doing her any favors either.

Blue bedroom, version 2

When we moved into the house we were sleeping in the first bedroom you come to when you walk down the hall. The blue flocked damask wasn't exactly inviting, but it wasn't as depressing as the faded pink damask in the master or the dirty burlap covering the walls in the third bedroom.

Burlap was the first to go and became the gray bedroom with the window seat where we sleep now, and we turned our attention to the living room, family room and entry.

With those rooms and the hallway and closets all renovated, all that was keeping us from having the floors done was the blue bedroom. As fate would have it Bill was available, as was Chris the electrician. Down came the walls and up went new wiring, insulation and drywall. Steve worked his mud and tape magic and it was time for paint.

We had no idea what we wanted, other than some contrast. I'd thought about some pale aqua blues, but looking at chips what hit me was Benjamin Moore's Blue Danube.

It's darker and more blue-green than it looks here, the flash kind of washed it out a bit. The ceiling is the same pale grey (Sherwin-Williams' Fleur de Sel) we're using everywhere, and when the white base and crown are up I think we're going to be pleased.

I'm planning on hanging a lot of black and white art in medium toned wood frames. I got a start on that last Tuesday at KC Auction Co's fall catalog sale. It's an abstract mixed media by Lei Molin (Dutch, 1927-1990). The catalog described it as having a rabbit on the right side, but Brett sees a buffalo. Either way, it's the kind of thing I like, I got it dirt cheap, and I can't wait to get it to the framer. Public artwork service reminder: a mat serves to preserve the work, do not sandwich your piece between the mount and the glass!

Fashion Friday

I'm still in the mood for a new coat, and I'm still enamored with LBM 1911. This is their pea coat. SO handsome.

Have a great weekend!

Schnauzers galore

Happy Friday, let's celebrate with puppy pics! Tucker got his first haircut, making him even more insanely cute. Brett had to hold him as he still doesn't often stop moving. And there's Alex, up on the bed for a little time away.
My mom has a new addition as well. Here's Sadie, who's all of 10 weeks old, looking a lot bigger than she actually is. Black and silver schnauzers are kind of rare, I'm really hoping she keeps her color, but thats puppy hair so who knows what she'll end up as. Again, not holding still gets you picked up. Oh and I guess I should say here's my mom too. She'd probably prefer a picture of herself when she was a bit more put together but she doesn't read my blog so she'll never know.

And here's Sadie looking at the dogs across mom's cul-de-sac. She makes Tucker seem comatose by comparison. She's a non-stop needle-toothed biting monster. Mom called one day, I asked how the baby was and she said "We can't catch her." I said "Tell me you're not taking her out without a leash" and she said "No, I mean inside."

Like I always say, they make them cute so you don't kill them.

Shelving choices

I've been looking for a pair of bookshelves to flank the opening between the living and dining room. Its been surprisingly hard to find something simple, in a material I like, in the size I need. I think these parsons towers from West Elm are pretty good in the walnut finish and they're the perfect size.

Here's the question for those of you who see these types of things: Have you seen something similar in glass and steel?

Curtain up

Our new performing arts center opens this weekend. Info on the building, ballet, symphony, opera and more at www.kauffmancenter.org. Those of you interested in architecture (Stefan I'm thinking of you especially) should also google 'Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts' or check out http://kauffman.kansascity.com for more photos. Open house all day on Sunday, with free performances inside and out. Locals I hope to see you there!

House progress

We've had some stuff going on at Chez Malaise. Yay! The hall has had the old gold wallpaper stripped and is currently being skimcoated. (Pardon that gray bar, I can't seem to get that pic to upload right).
The second bedroom, formerly a sea of faded blue flocked damask wallpaper (except for the strips that had fallen off the wall), has new wiring, lighting, insulation and drywall. Mud and tape should be finished this week. This is especially exciting because the bedroom and hall were the only things standing in the way of having the rest of the floors refinished.

And because I'm incapable of waiting until everything is done before shopping, here's the rug I bought. I'll post a better shot when its down on the floor, but I'm really pleased. We wanted some pattern and we both like orientals, but finding the right one wasn't easy. I wanted orange rather than red, and not too much tan. I thought we'd hit every rug gallery in town until we remembered one we'd missed, and they had the winner.

We bought a 6X9 as we're working on the short axis of the family room. They have one more of this same rug in a larger size which is an interesting thought for the living room. It was rolled and folded over in a corner of the shop, I'm kind of hoping they leave it there until we're ready to furnish that room.

The anniversary

In July of 2001 I was laid off my job at Sprint. After nine years in Long Distance I'd been at Sprint PCS for a year and while I liked my boss and co-workers the rest of the company was batshit insane. The end of my position was a relief more than anything. I sat across the table from my Director, one of a number of truly wretched women I'd worked with, while she tried to find some semblance of human emotion to let me down easy. It was taking her forever, so I finally said "Crystal, I've figured my severance and really this is fine." She thanked me for making it easy for her (looking back I wish I would have made myself cry) and we were done.

That began what I referred to as my Blissful Unemployment. Free summer days, sleeping in days, pool days, all unencumbered by a pesky job. I had no clue what I'd do next, but I was paid through January, so I had time to figure it out.

At the beginning of September an old friend called. He was the head of Operations at a commercial insurance brokerage, and he had a position to fill. We had lunch, and I said yes. And we decided on a start day. I remember telling him "I've enjoyed my joblessness so much, I need one more day. Lets make it Tuesday."

So there I was in my cube, just a bit before 8:30 central, setting a picture of Brett and the dogs on my desk when my new manager Kim stopped by. She said "You should come watch the television in the conference room with us, a plane just hit one of the World Trade Center towers." I was watching that television with strangers who would become my friends when the second plane hit.

I remember Mike getting to the office, having heard what happened on the drive in. I remember calling Brett at work to make sure he knew. The only other thing I really remember is the email from Kevin, the owner of the company, telling us he had no idea what was happening, but that we should all go home and be with our families. The rest of the day I remember mostly as sitting in front of the tv, and the appearance of flags everywhere.

The disaster showed us our best and our worst, made the world love us and revile us, and changed us in ways both significant and ridiculous. I wish I had some big take-away, but I don't.

Putting antiques to work

Previously our entry was divided from the living room by an opening that was smaller and contained a built-in planter and some curly, scrolly wrought iron. It fairly screamed "tired, old house." When we began planning the reconfiguration we knew that we wanted to keep things feeling open, but we also wanted a bit of separation too, which we weren't sure how we'd achieve.

Looking at furniture at Kincaid's one day we also noticed a number of old Chinese lattice panels. Really beautiful, most of them were originally either doors or floor screens and too big for what we thought we needed. Cindy mentioned there were a few more downstairs, and what did we find but some big, simple square ones, just about the right size for our wall. We brought it home and Bill reframed the opening to fit with a couple extra inches on all sides.

After spending most of our Labor Day relaxing we decided to finally hang it. A little bit of measuring, a bit of eyeballing, and four screw eyes and hooks (3 on top, one on the bottom just to steady it) and we're done, and really pleased.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Enjoy your long weekend! If you're traveling (like Sarah Palin, say, to Iowa or New Hampshire) please be safe and enjoy.

Oh, and Sarah, I know that 71% of republicans don't want you to run, but I say don't listen to them. Many of us are counting on your crazy bullshit and praying for a poorly-timed photo of you eating a corn dog. Don't let us down.

MidMal Reviews: Ralph Lauren Candlelight

The second bedroom is demo'd and the electrician will finish up this week. Then Bill and Steve will be in for insulation/drywall and mud/tape, and finally we'll be ready for (totally sexy) French Dan to come refinish the floors. With that milestone in sight I needed to paint the dining room ceiling and crown moulding.

The room has the same big backlit moulding and coved ceiling we saved in the entry. I was so happy with the white trim and pale turquoise ceiling paint we used there that I decided to do the same thing in the dining room. It looked great when it was all done.

Ralph Lauren has discontinued a lot of their ancilary paint products over the years (I always thought their stencils were good), but still available is Candlelight. It's a clear topcoat designed to change the way light hits your walls. If you look at the pictures on the RL website its subtle and pretty. Hoping to enhance the already good looking ceiling this weekend I gave it a try. Here's a review.

The Product: You'll be stirring this for a while, you might want to ask your salesperson to run it through the shaker. Also note this stuff stinks like wet gym socks, and that odor will hang around for a day or so. Don't paint before you have people over for drinks like I did.

Application: Along with the paint you need a couple of specialty RL rollers, one 4 inch and one regular 9 inch. They're very shaggy to mottle the surface. They recommend completing an entire wall (or ceiling in my case) at a time, and also that one person do all the painting. The small roller is used to cut in edges, but only two regular roller lengths at a time. Then two regular strips are rolled on, filling the roller twice for each strip. Finally, X's are made in rows over the freshly painted strips, picking up the roller after each stroke. It sounds worse than it was, then again I'm very comfortable with paint techniques. Either way I think the whole ceiling took me about an hour and a half.

The Result: I'm not in love. I was expecting something subtly magical, what I got seems more reminiscent of semi gloss paint. The increased sheen is also going to emphasize any imperfections in your surface.

The Verdict: We're going to live with it for a bit and see if it grows on us, but I smell a repaint in my future.

Easy Closets Again

If that doesn't stem the tide of coats, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves and umbrellas, nothing will.

Baseboard, a new light fixture and some doors and we can count the entry closet done. The system is the same Easy Closets that we used in the bedroom and again, I'm pleased. It took us about 3 hours start to finish but was no big deal. I'm still a fan.

Fashion Break

With the little break in our hellish weather I started thinking about a new fall coat. Wouldn't this unconstructed beauty be great? It's Lubiam's more casual LBM 1911 line.

Congratulations Michelle Bachmann

on your Iowa Straw Poll win! I'm pulling for you, I really am. And not only because your husband Ladybird is going to be skewered by SNL at every opportunity. Your inability to be photographed NOT looking bat-shit crazy will be the best thing about the upcoming Presidential campaign. Run you incomprehensible religious wingnut, run!

Enjoy your weekend

I've got some painting and odd little tasks to finish up, but shower glass was installed yesterday and the 48 hour silicone cure period ends Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning's shower should be the highlight of my weekend. Here's to no more pink bathrooms!

Modern Love

Mrs. Blandings has mentioned Joanna Votilla and Modern Love, her shop at 45th and State Line a few times, and with good reason. Joanna has a great eye and her place is always filled with beautiful things you'd love to own.

I drive by pretty regularly (Kincaid's is in the neighborhood as well) and when she was open Saturday I had to run in because in the window was this incredible lamp.

Simple, yes, but oversized in scale. The base is 13 inches in diameter and the whole thing is 40 inches tall with the (original, unadorned and unblemished) shade. Best of all though is its shiny, pristine, burnt orange glaze. Its not far off from the can of paint waiting to cover the sideboard that I'm anxious to get to work on.

When I picked it up over lunch today she said "Live with it for a few days and let me know." I've moved it around a bit and its great on a table by a comfortable chair (although probably not that chair in the first picture). It's also terribly handsome on the grey antique Chinese cabinet, but sadly big enough to block the tv that will hang there soon. So while I'm not exactly sure where it will end up, I'm absolutely positive its not going back.

Modern Love is open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to five, at 1715 West 45th Street (just east of State Line).