Thursday Thoughts: Go Places

It’s wonderful to take a break. It’s essential. It’s what helps your eye to stop twitching. Sometimes the only break I can manage is to walk a lap around the office—rest my eyes, get my body moving, refill my water bottle to get that 8/8! But this past weekend, I took a break with my sister (just in time for National Siblings Day?) and we went to as many restaurants as our stomachs would allow in Austin. It turns out my sister, who has lived in Texas her whole life, has never been to Austin. I’ve only been for short trips like ACL or for work—not enough time to explore the city.

We had to make an appearance on 6th street, if not for the people watching.

We started by making a beeline for Foreign & Domestic (we heard about them via Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives) for their famous popovers (gruyere and black pepper). Everything was delicious! Do you know what ramps are? Me either! Turns out they’re similar to onions and they make a delicious bright green risotto.

Popovers as big as my face!

Other highlights included: Josephine House (we went for some cold beverages and break from walking, I just basked in the décor), Tacos & Tequila (fun drinks, good food), and Elizabeth St. Café (beautiful interiors, great breakfast).

I tried the iced Vietnamese coffee—it was delicious and intimidating (“can I pour it now?).

I loved the design I saw in Austin. There’s new developments downtown, so you’ve got your clean, sleek, modern stuff. But there’s also lots of re-development (is that a term?) of existing structures that just simply well done. Clean, simple, beautiful. It renews my urge to purge and clear off all the surfaces in my apartment.

Josephine House – If it’s not white, it’s marble, walnut, or cobalt blue.

We were only there from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon but it was enough. We ate so much food and drank fancy things and just enjoyed ourselves. I don’t know why it takes moving locations to do that, since we have ample restaurant scene in Fort Worth. (That would mean less driving too…)

All photos via my instagram.

My Heart is an Apple

My second time around at Simple Elegance I had a few “Lessons Learned.”  For instance, that table is small!  Once you get 8 plates, 8 water glasses, 8 coffee mugs, and napkins on there, it’s pretty tight!  Less can be more–SIMPLE Elegance…right, right.
I decided to do more color this year and I decided to use my grandmother’s floral print china as a starting point.  It has pink, blue, green, and gold in the patterning.  I wasn’t sure about the pink (too soft?), so I made the executive decision to go red!
Same burlap cloth as last year with two new teal felt runners, and I used fabric napkins given to me by a friend that had the same colors in the embroidery.  (PS Fabric napkins require some ironing!)
The only mess up I had for this table was the original concept for the centerpiece was to have horse apples in the vase.  My friend notified me that there were horse apple trees along University outside the BRIT.  So like a maniac, I got my plastic bag and filled it with the least gross horse apples I could find on the ground (most had rotted or were sticky).  Well a week later, the horse apples were no good, so green apples it is!  Then I made a cobbler the next day.
I meant to post this sooner, but the planning for this year’s Simple Elegance got in the way!  It was last night and so much fun–will post pics soon!

On The Table

For the past few years, my post-Thanksgiving-food-induced-bliss quickly turns into manic shopping and planning to get my table ready for Simple Elegance!

“Simple Elegance” is an event my church holds the first Monday of Advent (usually the first Monday after Thanksgiving, but I get an extra week this year!) where we decorate 8-top tables (not necessarily “simply” or “elegantly”) and invite our friends for an evening of coffee and desserts and oogling!
This is my third year to do a table. The first year, I borrowed a friends beautiful Wedgwood china and that set the tone–teal, burlap, neutral, and rustic.
I used a few yards of burlap for the tablecloth, scraps from an old lace tablecloth, and layered on lots of Mom’s Mom’s serving trays and  silver bowls.  I started saving (and cleaning) jars when I decided on a theme.  There weren’t many purchases for this table!  Yes!
Stay tuned for a post on my second attempt at Simple Elegance!

Make Me Smile

My mom found this card that says, “My bologna has a middle name.  It’s Marie.”.  It really made me laugh because this is her defense whenever someone calls me “Mary” or “Maria” by mistake.  “It’s EVERYONE’S middle name!  How do you not know ‘MARIE?!?'”.  Good ol’ Mom, defending her daughter.  Now “Sainton,” that just can’t be helped…
I immediately searched for a frame for the card because it makes me smile and you should fill your home with things that make you happy.  I hung it by my bedroom door where I see it every morning.
I’ve longed for an old printing tray (or an old tray that holds letterpress letters, whatever you want to call it).  I didn’t know what I would do with it, but I had to have it.  I found the one pictured above at the Montgomery Street Antique Mall for a mere $20 (I couldn’t find one Etsy for under $45) and I realized that I have lots of silly, tiny things (again, that bring me joy) that make me sad to dust around and knock over and attempt to artfully arrange.  Now they all have a lovely home together and I don’t think I’ve dusted them since they moved there…  Whoops.
My sweet, sweet boyfriend, Philip sent me these postcards from Hawaii (we had only been dating a couple of months and he had booked this trip loooong before).  Guess which one arrived first?  I though, “There is a butt in my mail…”. These make me grin ear-to-ear when I think about how excited I was to receive them from my new guy.
Now the #1 was a clearance item from Anthropologie, you know back when number stuff was really big?  Now I have lots of random numbers in my apartment.  Remember that show “Numb3rs?”. Nothing like that.  I’m hoping to find a “2” to go with it, because these hang above the toilet and now you know what kind of sense of humor I have.  The “second place” ribbons from a 5K will have to do for now.

Everlasting Light

When my sister and I have moved, we looked to our parents to see if they had an furniture they “no longer needed.” My parents thought my sister would like this old floor lamp of theirs (that I never cared for), but she didn’t and my parents didn’t want it anymore, so…my feelings started to change. It was a shiny brass floor lamp with a glass table attached. It’s weird, right?


I stripped it down to it’s bare essentials (in Dad’s work area over Christmas break). Dad showed me how to strip the finish with pain thinner and then some areas needed to be sanded, due to a dog of ours who had an affinity for making his mark.


I debated getting a crazy color (kelly green, teal), but I was stricken with holiday laziness and the need for more gold in my life. In the aisles of Lowes, I managed to find a Valspar gold metallic–not shiny, not really matte either.


It went on VERY smoothly. It made a big difference that the base was already similar to the final color.


Can’t forget all the little pieces!


Especially the little finial that just rolls around when you spray it!

It took me a while to find the right lampshade. I wanted something fun, but I wasn’t willing to pay much for it. Anthropologie had some great options, but no sales (except when I went in the other day, the $128 shade I loved is now down to $70)! Eventually, I had people coming over to my apartment and a bare bulb. I finally found a great $20 shade at Target (their home items are constantly improving).


The final product in place! I’m very pleased with my new (to me) lamp and I’m glad I didn’t let it go to waste.


The other day my sister sent me a link to some curtains she’s thinking of getting for her new apartment:

First of all, I love them!  I’ve realized (as I want some new curtains too) that I opt for solids too often, thinking that I should keep it simple.  I need some more pattern in my life!  These are for her bedroom, where the only other pattern is a plaid bedspread.  This scroll pattern will definitely liven up the room and give it some color.

The problem is she’s not in the apartment yet (and doesn’t have a key), but she wants to get the curtains now.  She texted me this stalker picture saying, “Here’s the bedroom window!”

She has a tiny yard for her tiny doggies!  Jealous.

By looking at this picture, I can use my interior designer context clues to make a guess on the size she needs.  Door headers are typically at 7′-0″ high and it looks like the top of the window aligns with the top of the door.  The shortest curtain length is 84″, i.e. 7′-0″.  Unless she wants to hang the curtains right at the top of the window (not recommended), she needs to go longer.  I texted back a professional sketch:

I’m assuming she will have, at least, 9′-0″ ceilings.  The next length offered is 95″ (1″ short of 8′-0″, why?  Why not just 96″ JC Penney?) so she could hang the rod a few inches above the window, which is a better proportion for the height of the room and the window.  I like to have my drapes just touch the floor, some people want them to puddle, some people don’t like to vacuum around them–personal preference!

It’s still a month before she moves and until I can check my guess-work.  Maybe I’ll have to get myself some drapes to test the theory on myself…

To Wild Homes

For as long as I’ve remembered, there was a “project” going on in the Sainton household.  I wish I had a “before” picture of the house I grew up in, in Grand Prairie and then an “after” right before my parents moved out in 2008.  No surface was left untouched.  Recently, a friend posted an old picture on Facebook and I could not figure out where the picture was taken.  Turns out we were in front of the wet bar that later became the tv/media built-in cabinet.

My parents have been in their new house for 2 and a half years now and have only renovated the half bath and they’re almost done with the kitchen (only my sister and I are shocked that this is ALL they’ve done).

Now that I have a degree and am I licensed interior designer in the state of Texas, I can’t help but spout my ability to my dad–who is a contractor that builds custom homes throughout the Metroplex.  He often is inspired by a recent project (“Hand scraped wood flooring is the only way to go,”) or has extra materials that make their way into our house (our foyer had the marble tile left over from Robert Tilton’s house).  We compare our industry resources (“Who’s your Daltile rep?  I don’t know her…”).

When it came time to pick the tile for the kitchen backsplash, Mom finally put in the two cents I’m sure she’s been holding on to for 35+ years.  She wanted something different, she was tired of tumbled marble 3” x 3” tiles at a 45 degree angle with an accent tile every 4 tiles.  She wanted little glass tiles, but we couldn’t afford to do 100% glass.  Dad still wanted exactly what Mom didn’t–Dad loves a tile on an angle.  Here is the beautiful half bath flooring that Dad designed:

One Saturday, the three of us made a trip out to Daltile in North Dallas.  After a few unsuccessful laps around the showroom, I suggested a mosaic blend I’m considering for a project at work: Stone Radiance, a blend of natural stone and glass linear tile.  Mom loved it, Mom wanted to do the whole backsplash with it (as did I), then Dad brought our “tile high” down when he crunched the numbers.  We decided to mix it with a larger tumbled marble tile (the same light beige used in the mosaic blend) and spent far too long sketching and doing math (5/8” plus ⅝” and then a row of 3”…) we figured out 3 rows of 4” H tile with 2 accent strips of the mosaic blend at 3 rows high.  We all started to hate the idea of 4” x 4” tile (but we JUST figured out the math!) then Mom laid the mosaic strip on top of a 12” x 12” tile–Eureka!  We got the 12” x 12” cut into 4” x 12” tiles and then had a much larger scale, more modern pattern.

I got to see it complete a few weeks later when I showed up before Mom was home from work.  I asked Dad what he thought of the results (because I loved it and I knew Mom was happy), he said, “ [pause] it’s okay.”  We pushed poor Dad out of his comfort zone!  He really does like it all right AND he gets to choose everything else for the kitchen.