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Manolo for the Home: House, Home and Lifestyle Advice - Part 60

Think You Have a Small Yard? They’ve Got You Beat.

Lawn lovers who haven’t yet joined the landed gentry take heart! You, too, can care for and cry over your own little patch of green — or brown — like those of us who battle blight and bugs and the mysterious creeping death that comes a’calling every dang fall. Haffsteinn Juliusson’s Growing Ring lets you experience the trials and tribulations of lawn ownership in a tiny little take-it-with-you package.

small yards

Silver and soil, a little TLC, and some water are all it takes… a green thumb doesn’t hurt, though. And $179, which is how much your personal plot will cost you. Hey, it’s cheaper than real estate!

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

Can I admit here that The Beard and U have a number of pilfered street signs hanging in our home without the coppers coming after us? The best stolen signs are of course those that say something like Drunk Street or Hell or Purgatory, but stealing signs does carry with it the risk of punishment. And frankly I think of stealing signs as an activity for what I now consider a younger crowd. But street signs aren’t the only signs out there, so until Paloma is old enough to start bringing signs home for us (I kid, I kid) I can content myself with all the interesting signs on Etsy and elsewhere. Here’s a sampling:

wall signs

Custom photo letter signs from Words on Wood, $80

wall signs 3

Print by KEEP CALM by derder (frame not included), $18

wall signs 4

Wood on vinyl family name sign from Off Woodland Lane, $25

wall signs 2

Hand painted sign from Suche Crafts, $27

wall signs 5

Repro burlesque advert on wood from Funcky Love Signs, $14

wall signs 6

No Stopping poster from eve & andy (frame not included), $14

Get A Little Cuteitude (for the Holidays or Otherwise)

If you can believe it, it’s looking like The Beard and I have our Christmas shopping just about all wrapped up this year. I kid you not. It doesn’t hurt that we’re economizing by getting everyone the same thing holiday gifts year… hint: handmade by a friend of ours, which is all I’m saying. Those who don’t have DIY skills or a crafty friend, however, may need to actually shop for their holiday gifts, and I definitely recommend getting it over with early early early. Screw Black Friday. Who wants to get trampled? Not me, and not you, which is why I’m going to be recommending holiday gifts now then from here until the end of December. Here are four potential holiday gifts I’m digging on:

zipper mugs

Zippers are used everywhere… in our clothes, on our bags, and now on our mugs? Ohay, so the zipper on these zipper mugs doesn’t actually open and close, it does keep your tea bag tag from falling into your cup. A holiday gift that prevents burnt fingers? Sign me up!

fish vase

Simple and graceful lines make these koi pitchers seem so elegant, but when you pour, things get playful. The pitcher actually gurgles when you serve your favorite beverage and it’s one of those sounds people can’t get enough of. Of course, you can also use these fresh fish as vases or art objects instead of kitchenware.

rubicks cube salt and pepper grinders

A 1980s icon — writing that makes me feel so old — finds a new place on the dining room table! Classic Rubik’s Cubes become colorful salt and pepper grinders that have the same feel and make the same sound as the toy/puzzle they’re paying tribute to. A great holiday gift for the 80s enthusiast, no?

cute bowls

Forget the ugly Tupperware that’s been scratched and dinged by the dishwasher. These snap and shut bowls put a little art in your lunchbox, with designs by emerging artists Matte Stephens, Amy Ruppel, Emily Martin and Catalina Estrada. Yummy.

Did I mention that all of this stuff is $42 or less? The economy be damned, let’s get gifty!

Giving Thanks With Style

Thanksgiving, at least in the States, is less than two weeks away, and for the second year in a row The Beard and I will be serving up dinner here at our very own home. Our extended families will be elsewhere, and we will miss them as we chow down on a Celebration Roast instead of the turkey they’ll be eating. Last year we had a guest, but this year the roster of diners will be limited to ourselves and the baby who can eat just enough real food to enjoy her own Thanksgiving feast.

Our table? Will be simple. We resist the urge to serve up the mashed and stuffing on plates and in bowls embellished with gaudy cartoons of pilgrims and Indigenous Americans. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, though if you were to ask me I’d tactfully suggest steering clear of that whole bushel of iconography. The holidays should not be an excuse to lose one’s sense of good taste.

So what have we got here…


Personalized napkins are awesome, eliminating as they do the need for place cards. Plus, guests can take them home at the end of the meal! Country Living has simple directions for the DIY crowd.

Thanksgiving tablescape

Printing coordinating menus, place cards, wine glass labels, and other paper goods for the table is easy. Just choose a color palette to coordinate with your tablescape and clip art to jazz things up a little. Conversely, sites like Paper & Cake sell print-at-home kits that make printing everything you need for your Thanksgiving table easy-peasy.


Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving tables range from the fresh and cool to the modern to the downright dowdy, complete with pine cone turkeys. Note that pine cone turkeys are fun for the very young and the very young at heart, but do look silly. Can’t help that.

Thanksgiving table 2

This table was DwellStudio founder Christiane Lemieux’s American Thanksgiving design, featuring plenty of DwellStudio products, natch. It’s sort of busy and understated at the same time, which isn’t entirely off putting.


Love the pitcher. Like the use of leaves. Love the chairs. Love love love the sunshine! My ideal Thanksgiving would be hosted by someone else (preferably a vegetarian, but I’m not picky) in a sunny and very warm locale. Screw autumn.


Finally, here’s more of what you can do with printable templates from Paper & Cake. Yum!

Oh, Rosanna!

New purple kitchen cabinets means Never teh Bride is on the prowl for coordinating dinnerware! Yay! Right now I’m digging on dishes, glasses, mugs, and tableware from Rosanna Bowles, creatrix of collections of charming ceramics like so…

dinnerware by rosanna inc

Her current offerings include wonderful things like chic black serving trays and cake stands, holiday plates that aren’t covered over with dorky smiling snowmen, eye-catching jet teapots, colorful dessert plates, mugs that feature your initials, pate knives, and more.

Wait, what? I need specific knives just for pate? I think I’ll pass on those, but as for everything else, bring it on.

Leave a Message

As useful and even cute as a kitchen whiteboard can be, I’d much rather have this darling heart-shaped zinc tile from France hanging from its natural linen strap in my home.

heart message board

All right, so it’s not all that big, rendering it not quite useful enough as a place to write down full grocery lists, but it’s perfect for jotting down a note to oneself when one notices that one’s stash of saffron is alarmingly low.

NtB Loves: Thinking Pink, Again

Pink goes from being cool to not being cool anymore with surprising rapidity, which means sometimes my tastes are cool and sometimes they’re decidedly uncool. For I, like many people, like pink. You’ll never catch me wearing it (heaven forbid!) but I do like to surround myself with touches of pink. And for a while I even had bright pink hair, so you know I must truly adore it. Every so often I go looking for more pink in my life, and now is one of those times.

Here’s just some of the pink stuff from Graham and Green that I’m digging on right now:

pink lamp

This pink mercury table light with its matching pink shade would pop in almost any room, but looks especially stunning when displayed amid lots of black and white or, as shown here, mirrors.

pink hot water bottle cover

Cute as a button, a pink and white lambs wool hot water bottle cover hides the actual hot water bottle. Which is nice, since they tend to look rather nasty and medical.

pink dresser

This pink dresser would be great in a girl’s room… or a grownup girl’s room. But somehow even though The Beard is quite oblivious when it comes to most of my decorative choices, I don’t think I could slip this past him. Nuts.

pink chair

I love this antique-style rattan back chair with its luxurious pink cotton velvet upholstered seat. Tell people it’s vintage and that you reupholstered it yourself. Who’s going to argue?

pink bedside table

Finally, there’s a mother of pearl inlay bedside table with clear crystal glass drawer knobs. Handcrafted in India. Unique with a flaw or two, as a result. Very cool, I think, since pink paired with that style of workmanship is surprising.

NtB Loves: Dressing Tables

Dressing tables. Vanities. Call them what you will, but I love them. You can put all your makeup or perfumes or kid gloves or gold watch on the dresser, but that looks messy and cluttered. Dressing tables give you a place to put the detritus of your day-to-day life.


Normally I’m not a huge fan of furniture made almost entirely from mirrors, but I’ll make an exception. Hard to keep fingerprint free? Sure. But with a Barcelona-style dressing table like this, every inch of one’s face will be visible. The luggage rack style seat is all right, but I’d pair it with an Alchemia Polycarbonate Chair.

dressing table 1

For the lover of all things modern or perhaps even for the man… this simple, angular dressing table in subtle black can either fade into the background or pop depending on the makeup of the rest of your room. As for the stool? Ho hum. Looks more like a footstool to me.

dressing table 5

You knew there’d be a clear chair in here somewhere! It pairs perfectly with the Orient Express dressing table that’s made to look like so much vintage luggage. My only beef is the bare wood that is revealed when the mirror is aloft. Kind of eh.

dressing table 3

The Kay + Stemmer rose dressing table is dripping with mid-century modern style. I like the wave and the thin tapering legs, though I wonder how well one could integrate it into a decor scheme that wasn’t primarily mcm.

dressing table 4

Basic and pretty, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional plain white dressing table. A little boring maybe, but easy to integrate into a wide variety of decor styles. Great for a girl’s room or a guest bathroom. I don’t love it quite as much as the others, but it will get the job done.