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Art Curator for a Day

I love art, and have always secretly wished I could curate an art show. Well, I got my wish — at least in an online sort of way — when UGallery asked if I would be a Guest Curator.

UGallery Guest Curator Laura Gaskill of Houzz UGallery Guest Curator Laura Gaskill of Houzz UGallery Guest Curator Laura Gaskill of Houzz UGallery Guest Curator Laura Gaskill of Houzz

My little art show has actually been live on the UGallery site for quite some time…but it completely slipped my mind to mention it here! I do hope you will hop over and take a peek at my picks — and there are even more pieces on this Pinterest board. All of the works are for sale at UGallery, and quite a few of them are surprisingly affordable.

Artists featured above: Peep Show No. 2 by Nicole Newsted; The Gift by Jeannine Emmett; Fleeting Summer by Nicole Newsted; Flight of Fancy by Valerie Chiang; and Surf Shop by Rebecca Plotnick.


Charting A Sense of Home

Recently I wrote a piece for Houzz about what it means to feel at home at home, and what to do when your house does not really feel like your own. I’d like to revisit the topic today, in this space, because I have a few more personal stories to share on the subject, and I am hoping you might like to chime in as well.


To begin with, I would like to take you back to my childhood home — it was a hundred-year-old craftsman house in Alameda, California, with a crazy built-in secretary desk and window seats and pocket doors that my parents used to slide shut during parties to block the noise. In the backyard was my mom’s “folly”, a beautiful little Japanese garden with a pond and waterfall and a giant boulder my uncle and a friend drove down from Chico. My bedroom was downstairs when I was little, but once my older sister moved out I moved upstairs to a corner room overlooking the backyard, with olive branches at the window. It was all white, with white carpeting and white walls, and a big fluffy white duvet on my bed, and when I woke up on a Saturday morning I would open up all of the shades and dive back in bed, and it felt just like I was floating inside a cloud.

We sold the house when I was a senior in high school, and moved into a little apartment that smelled kind of funny and had neighbors upstairs who danced to tribal music every night at two a.m. It was a big change, although it didn’t really hit me until I left for college. Where was I supposed to come “home” to now?

The house — my house — was gone. The place my best friend and I learned to slow dance by taking turns dancing with my big brother. The place I buried my cat, bunny, and countless hamsters. The front door, solid oak, that bore my small four-year-old hand prints covered in green paint. The front porch steps that I can still to this day hear the exact sound of, clomping up one-two-three, like a dull wooden wind chime, smelling jasmine as I pass by the trellis on my way inside.

Objects of my affection

I admit, for a time, I was heartbroken not to have that house anymore. It felt utterly unfair. I’ve always felt my sense of self wrapped up in a sense of place (do you know what I mean?) and living without my childhood home felt deeply unsettling. But over time, I learned to create my own home in various places over the years. You might think that simply the longer you live in a place, the more home-like it will feel to you, but I have found that is not entirely true. Some places feel like home right away, and others never really do. Not in the same way.

I am learning to listen to these feelings of home, like an internal drumbeat so quiet and distant you must be perfectly still to hear it. Is that the beat of my people? Is this where I belong? Only you know for sure.


Travel Bug + Packing Light

It’s been a while (9 years, to be exact…) since I traveled abroad and I am so happy to report that we are planning a trip to Switzerland! To be quite honest, the first few years after having our little guy I had absolutely no desire to take a big trip. Airplane rides, strange beds, and generally facing a lot of unknowns with baby in tow sounded anything but fun to me — but now I’m getting my travel bug back. Camera I am usually a serious homebody, but I also really love collecting stories and adventures. Travel, to me, is one of the best experiences in life, even when things go wrong. Of course I hope things will go smoothly, and I plan to do everything in my power to make sure we are able to enjoy our trip without any major snafus. Which is why I intend to make this our lightest packed trip to date.

Why pack light?

I like to think that how we travel best is an extension of how we prefer to live at home. Speaking personally, clutter drives me nuts at home — and it’s the same when I travel. If I have to dig through cavernous suitcases to find the one thing I need, I’m not having a very good time. If we have so much stuff that our clothing and gear is exploding all over the hotel room, you can bet I will be feeling a bit grumpy rather than relaxing as much as I would like. And that’s not to mention the physical discomfort of hauling giant bags through airports, train stations, and across cobblestone streets. Or, heaven forbid, the airline loses your checked luggage and you are facing a trip with nothing but the clothes on your back.

Packing light, as in, only packing what you can carry on, solves many of these issues. It makes you feel free. If you are interested in packing lighter, this this Zen Habits post is a great place to start. While I am not ready to travel with only one change of clothing (!) I do think it makes a lot of sense to pack smart and as light as is comfortably possible. For instance, rather than pack only one set of extra clothes, I plan on packing a handful of versatile pieces more akin to The Daily Connoisseur’s 10 item capsule wardrobe, modified for my particular needs on this trip.

5 Things I am Not Packing:

  1. My big camera (pictured above) - I am going with the iphone on this trip instead of a camera, because frankly, I hate hauling the big camera around, and I worry about leaving it places and getting it banged up, which means I don’t use it as much.
  2. A laptop - We are bringing the ipad, so I can use that if I get an itch to work, check email, or blog, but otherwise I don’t need the extra weight.
  3. Heels - Really. We’re going to the Alps, for crying out loud.
  4. Fancy clothes - See above. (I will be bringing a nice top to wear with dark jeans, and maybe a jersey dress that you can wear just about anywhere)
  5. Toys - Other than a stuffed animal “friend” and a few books, I don’t see any need to load us down with toys. We’re traveling with family who are entertaining enough…and there’s always the ipad in case of emergency ;)

So, that about covers it. If you love to travel, I would love to hear from you — are you a light packer? Heavy packer? Somewhere in between? Also — any tips for Switzerland??

hugs, Laura



Inspiring Instagrammer to Follow :: annacate


Instagram is sort of the new Flickr, yes? I keep finding these lovely, inspiring people recording and sharing beautiful corners of their lives on Instagram, and I thought I would share one with you today. She is annacate on Instagram, and she blogs at Another Side Of This Life. Her blog and Instagram feed are filled with inspiring corners of her home in Sweden, her lovely redheaded daughter, and their family adventures. I am lusting after her sunny kitchen with the door opening directly into the garden — dreamy.

IMG_3996 IMG_6715 vivienda+annacate+instagram+11 vivienda+annacate+instagram+6 vivienda+annacate+instagram+12 vivienda+annacate+instagram+10

Annacate’s home has the sort of effortless charm that comes when you are truly tapped into what you love. Chipped vintage mirrors mingle with wildflowers plucked from outdoors, geometric lighting, and a happy jumble of floral wallpapers. In short, it’s exactly the sort of feeling I hope to cultivate in my own home — refreshing, cheerful, and easy, with a bit of rumpled elegance.

Enjoy your Monday, my dears, and don’t forget to follow annacate — you won’t be sorry!

(post images: annacate; initially found thanks to Transito Inicial)


5 Ways to Embrace Winter

Bianca via flickr

{no.1} Appreciate the quiet. In the warm months, neighbors are out chatting and people drop by unannounced. In winter, things are different. After a big snowstorm, the quiet settles around our little house, and I feel as if we were living in a big woods instead of the city. The snow insulates us from the outside world, from work and school. People are focused on the most basic things — shoveling snow, buying (or baking) bread, lighting fires.

{no.2} Make big plans. When I lived in California, there was no clear break in the busyness of the year; no obvious time to stop and make plans for the future. But winter — a real winter — is made for plans. I draw up sketches of our house and garden, pore over seed catalogs in bed at night, and make endless lists. Of places to travel, paint colors to try, house projects to do this year. Big plans are good. They keep you going.

{no.3} Make good things to eat and warm things to drink. Soups, stews, roasts, hot cocoa, chai, and endless pots of tea make their way through our house in the winter. Cold days are made for coming in to warm up with your hands wrapped around a hot mug or soup bowl.

{no.4} Gear up. As the Swedes say (I think it’s the Swedes!) there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. My first four winters in Rhode Island I spent without proper snow-worthy gear, and it sucked. But with fuzzy-lined snow boots, a down parka, cozy hat and mittens, I can now actually enjoy making snow balls at the park and taking winter walks. Especially when I know hot cocoa is waiting for me at home (see no.3)

{no.5} Light up the night. Letting the glow of candles and lamps fill the house on dark nights (or even dark afternoons) is absolutely necessary to create a cheery atmosphere in winter. I think it goes without saying I am a huge fan of fairy lights, too.

I readily admit I set out to list 10 ways to embrace winter and came up short, but let’s be honest — there is only so much embracing of winter I am willing to do on March 14, with snow still on the ground, for goodness sake. Winter, you have your charms; but the most enchanting bit is the part where you leave on icy, leafless wings and let glorious spring take your place.

{lovely photo: Bianca on Flickr}

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