five things we learned last week

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1) For the most part, we leave celebrating Valentine’s Day to our home lives. Sarah C. shared her plans for tiny bouquets for her coworkers, but for most of us, the holiday passes without much fanfare at work. Joanne says: “Ellie, I feel your pain…. I am one of the few females in my department of 100+ technology folks… and the only one that even reminds folks about important dates. I wore a red scarf today, but have yet to see anyone else wearing anything red. Bah Humbug! I had to gently remind a number of guys to go get a card or flowers or something for their wives. Sheesh!”

2) We all have dirty house secrets. Rebecca F. shared hers in the tale of her beloved, but beaten up sheet pan and you have similar stories. Anita says: “Rebecca — when did you come to my house and steal my sheet pan? Seriously, I have the twin to yours, and use it for the same types of things. Mine is only semi-hidden, as I live alone and don’t need to hide it, but don’t really want to see it, either. My sister spotted it one day, and gave me this look that said, “Really? You use this? And now you’re going to serve me dinner?” An explanation was in order.”

3) We’re ready for summer. Until then, this electronic butterfly in a jar will have to lift our spirits. Jess says, “I currently serve as a chaplain in a nursing home. One of our residents always kept a garden and became very down in these winter months, so we purchased a battery operated monarch butterfly for her room. Every morning we would move it from the window to the ledge, etc, and she has found such delight out of it! I’ve already asked for one for my own kitchen… perhaps it will perk up the mundane task of washing dishes.”

4) Following a few simple rules can maximize your benefit when planning for a cruise. Sarah C. asked, and once again, our readers came to the rescue. Pack less than you think you need, don’t plan your own excursions and mind that hand sanitizer are just a few we’re hearing often. What else should Sarah know about going on a cruise?

5) Army/Navy Surplus stores are great sources for fab home finds. Mary’s recent trip spurred an epiphany, and we’re signing on to an exploratory mission. Megan B. says: “I’m making a trip down there stat! I NEED one of those gray blankets w/ the white stripes! So cute!”

blogwatch: where we’ve been clicking this week

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Goodness. The breathtaking work of desert sculptor Alma Allen at the Brick House. We WANT those DIY copper countertops.

Black contact paper makes a great no-paint chalkboard surface, like this DIY wall calendar at Say Yes to Hoboken.

Sometimes the littlest touches can really make a home special, like these gilded wood beams Casa Sugar spotted in the second installment of Anthology magazine.

Online antique super-store IstDibs opens a brick and mortar showroom in NYC, and it’s huge! Thanks, Apartment Therapy!

This baked Crab Mac-n-cheese at Eating on the Cheap sounds almost too good to be true. Via Tastespotting.

We love the look of these rustic flour and grain sack pillows we spied at the Style Files.

A modern log cabin — better than bad, it’s good! At a Daily Dose of Architecture.

Carbonate your own fruit thanks to this awesome tutorial at Evil Mad Scientist. Sounds like a food revolution to us…

Images courtesy of Alma Allen

craziest, creepiest party game ever? zombie pinata

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It’s a little early (or late) for Halloween, but perhaps you need a pinata for an Oscar party? (Were any zombie movies nominated?) Or maybe you just want to own this disturbingly lifelike — I mean, undeadlike — zombie pinata by Etsy seller Tom Deadstuff. I saw it on this Etsy blog post, and was stunned by how amazing Tom Deadstuff’s zombies are — and only $45! That may be a lot for something you intend to destroy, but as an art piece, that’s a shockingly low price. See all of Tom Deadstuff’s demented offerings here. (Angela, is this on your wishlist yet?) — Mary T. You know you want to see it! Click to see: (more…)

five things we learned last week

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1) Edible spray paint is an awesome idea in theory, but in practice? We’re not sure. Sarah C. shared this edible food spray and you’re willing to try it but have to wonder about the aftertaste and mouth stain potential. Julie says: “Incredible effect, but it 100% depends on the aftertaste. I can’t stand the gross flavor that certain “edible” elements leave behind. My secondary question is, would it stain your teeth/lips/tongue? Because let’s be honest, that would be hilarious at a swanky party!”

2) Factory tours are a forgotten source of fun. This week we toured Rejuvenation and Heath Ceramics and put factory tours back on your mental map. Stephanie says: “How fun! I’ve never thought of touring a factory like this. This post reminds me of the good ‘ol days when Mr. Rodgers would take us on a tour of the Crayon or peanut butter or stamp factory. Love.” How fun! I’ve never thought of touring a factory like this. This post reminds me of the good ‘ol days when Mr. Rodgers would take us on a tour of the Crayon or peanut butter or stamp factory. Love.”

3) We like aviation-inspired furniture…in moderation. Restoration Hardware’s Aviator Collection makes quite a statement, probably too much for one room, but we like it. Jilliana says: “I actually really like these pieces, but the desk is do large and graphic that it would need a very large office to avoid feeling like something that crash-landed into the house. I don’t think most people have the space to carry it off.”

4) Popcorn kernels are a cure-all. Rebecca F. is at it again with her kernel fixes! First we used them to clean out narrow-necked vases. This week they’re solving our knife block problems. DJ says: “What do I think? I think you are brilliant! I purchased something similar from Viva Terra, a rectangular box of brightly painted wood filled with upright bamboo skewers, only to be disappointed because the skewers are loose and pull out whenever I remove a knife. Your popcorn kernel idea is MUCH better!”

5) The Butter Bell is a small gadget with big results. And everyone has an opinion about it! Megan B. employs one in pursuit of the perfect grilled cheese and many of you also appreciate the luxury of having creamy, spreadable butter at a moment’s notice. Carol says: “I have one and cannot imagining NOT owning one now! Butter is perfect and does not oxidize… my mom loved it and I had to get her one for Christmas. Nothing worse than tearing bread with rock hard butter. Worth every penny.”

blogwatch: where we’ve been clicking this week

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The most hideous apartment ever? Maybe… but this Chelsea eyesore complete with a living room swimming hole is only $11 million — and it can be yours, thanks to Casa Sugar. Don’t every one bid at once now.

And now for something completely different. Minimalist living at it’s most beautiful — via swiss miss.

Ooh! This handheld Presso espresso maker spotted over at Cool Tools looks like a java-shooting dream machine.

Added to the Netflix queue: a documentary about the fanatically-labeled-yet-awesome Dr Bronner’s Soap — an intriguing sounding story at Readymade.

Curbly’s got 10 DIY dresser makeovers to die for, inspiration for those of us whose bureaus could use a facelift.

The Nest chair by Markus Johansson at CONTEMPORIST. LOVE.

Here’s a great last minute Valentine’s craft from Eddie Ross: 5 easy ways to frame a special photo.

And if you’d like to celebrate your beloved with a toast, might we suggest the salmon-hued Pamplemousse, made with Aperol — courtesy of the ever-amazing Molly at Orangette.