Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Graham Hotel - Georgetown

The Graham Hotel Lobby
A few weeks ago, I attended a birthday party on the rooftop of The Graham Hotel, located in Georgetown. It was my first time stopping in, although the hotel celebrated its grand opening in the Spring of 2013. It was previously known as the Monticello Hotel but after an extensive renovation, it has been revamped and renamed after Alexander Graham Bell, who was once a resident of the neighborhood.  I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful decor that greeted me in the lobby, as well as the chic design and styling throughout the rest of the hotel.  I was so impressed with The Graham's level of customer service and the hors d'oeuvres served to our group, my date and I left the party early and decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant, AGB.  The menu offered a varied array of American fare, from grilled cheese and tomato soup to braised short rib.  We ended up ordering the lobster roll and the steak frites.  The food was delicious and being that we sat down right at 5pm, we were lucky to have the space all to ourselves and thus were able to riddle our server with lots of questions about the menu, the restaurant and the hotel.  I am totally adding this to my list of "staycation" hotels in the city and I will definitely be a fixture on their rooftop next summer.  Check out the photos below.

The Graham hotel
The Graham Lobby. 

Sitting area.

Lobby

Lounge area in the hotel's restaurant ABG.
Photo my own.

The Graham Rooftop Bar and Lounge

*All photos courtesy of The Graham Hotel unless otherwise indicated.




















Thursday, September 18, 2014

Little Ambassadors' Academy

When Lauren, the Executive Director at Little Ambassadors' Academy, reached out to me and told me she was getting ready to open her second location and that she wanted me to design the teacher's lounge, I was ecstatic.  I was excited she had asked me back after working with her to design a conference room and a library at LAA's first location and at the challenge of creating a space where the teacher's could let their hair down and relax a little bit, but still function as a place to receive parents and their pre-schoolers.  Then she informed me of the catch, the ribbon cutting ceremony for the school would be in 3 weeks and I would need to have the space completed by then.  We were also working with a small budget.  Never one to back down from a challenge, I accepted the job and went to work.  





Photos of Little Ambassador's Academy, Cherrydale Campus, at the initial meeting. 
I started the process by researching online what was available, because I only had 3 weeks to turn this space around and I was working with a smaller budget, I knew I definitely wouldn't be able to go full custom and use any of my Washington Design Center resources.  I started by checking out what the big retail furniture stores, CB2, Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Z Gallerie, had in the way of sizes that would fit the space and the respective price points.  Once I felt certain I'd found the pieces that would anchor the space online, I took a field trip to the stores to see them in person and check out fabric swatches/finishes and check on delivery times.  Satisfied with the selections and that I could complete the project on time, I began drawing the space plan to show Lauren my vision.



Presentation boards
Once Lauren approved the board and gave the go ahead, I began ordering the furniture and scheduling the deliveries.  With about two weeks left, I felt confident everything would fall into place and the Ribbon Cutting ceremony would go off without a hitch, all I had to do was sit and wait for the deliveries.  I should have known better.  I'd arranged to have the furniture delivered on a Thursday, three days before the ceremony.  When I arrived to the site, the space was essentially as it had been when I had seen it three weeks prior.  It had not been painted and there were construction materials lying about everywhere.  The crew was nowhere in sight after having reported that they were finished and that everything had been completed.  Begin panic mode.  I contacted Lauren and we begin to devise a plan.  She asked if I could get my tradespeople to come in and finish up whatever work remained to get the teacher's lounge ready for show.  I began calling every painter I'd ever worked with in DC trying to find someone on short notice to arrive the next day to paint. With none picking up or returning my calls, I felt sure we were stuck.

Next in what can only be considered a series of unfortunate events, there was a mixup with one of the deliveries. The driver refused to deliver the furniture and I was told, I would have to reschedule for another day. I was at my wits end.  It seemed as if this project was about to blow up in my face.  I called the store and was re-routed to every salesperson, logistics person, store manager in a 50 mile radius before finally hearing that the driver would be able to deliver the furniture that day.  You would think that would have been the worst of it but no, the driver arrived with a partial delivery.  I was missing a bookcase and the base to a table.  Again, I called the store and put up a major fuss until I was assured I would have the missing furniture delivered the next day, 2 days before the ceremony.  And we still needed a painter...

Without a confirmed painter at 530pm on a Thursday, I headed over to Potomac Paint and purchased the paint just in case the gods decided to smile upon me.  I headed back to the site, dropped off the paint and began my commute home.  At 630pm, I received a phone call from a painter confirming that he was available to paint the space the next day and would arrive at 8am.  Whew. 

We narrowed the paint choices down to these two colors
but ended up going with Ostrich.  Paint swatches are C2.
Friday. It was a marathon of a day.  I met the painter at 8am, got him squared away with what I needed and then went about searching for items to style the space.  My first stop was Target.  I'd looked online and knew they had a few small, decorative pieces I wanted to use to accessorize the space.  I found pretty much everything I needed in about 40 minutes and was in and out the door in under an hour.  I made subsequent stops at TJ Maxx and Pier 1 but didn't see anything I was willing to commit to on the spot.  I headed back to the school and got to work assembling the furniture.

Jairo, the painter and life saver, painting the teacher's lounge.  

Assembling the chairs, purchased from West Elm.

Almost fully assembled.  Chairs from West Elm.
Much of the rest of the day was spent assembling furniture and setting up.  Once all the furniture was assembled and in place, I was able to get a feel for what other styling accessories were needed to complete the space.  Since the day had been long, I decided I would shop for the remaining items the following day.  I left feeling exhausted but accomplished.

Chairs from West Elm.  Table from CB2.
Ikea GESTALTA Figure - Artist's Figure.

CB2 Cielo II Sectional in Shadow.  Pillows from Target.
Ottoman also Target.



Baskets from Target. 
 With the end almost in sight, I asked Lauren for a few children's books to add to the bookshelves to complete the space.  Check out the pictures of the completed space below.

Little Ambassadors' Academy's, Cherrydale Campus.
Alba Credenza, CB2.  Clock, vase and decorative art blocks, Ikea.

Hancock Bookshelf, CB2.
Stuffed animals, Ikea.


All wall art from Target.


Pillows from Target.



Ikea 8-bit reindeer designed by Monika Mulder.
It has been said that in Scandinavian culture the reindeer is a
prophetic creature and a symbol of change.
All books from TJ Maxx.










Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Choosing Happy

The last two days I've been participating in a social experiment entitled "100 Happy Days".  Over the last month I've seen Instagram posts and tweets with that hashtag and figuring it to be the latest social media trend, I decided to avoid it but Sunday evening, I saw a post which gave me a better understanding of '100 happy days' and for a myriad of reasons, I decided to participate.
This month and last month, there has been a certain theme to my conversations with friends, a feeling of life having not turned out the way they thought it would; marriage not being as blissful, kids not being as well behaved, being married and not being able to have children, to not being married at all or not as successful at work, or not making a certain amount of money within a certain time frame, and on and on.  Everyone I talked to seemed to share this sentiment of not being happy exactly where they are, with exactly what they have at this moment.  It led me to wonder if this is a consequence of choices or a consequence of settling. The more I've considered it, the more I believe it is about choices, so Sunday when I saw the 100 happy days post describing the experiment as a choice, it struck a nerve.  
For me the experiment does not stand as a test to be happy all day, every day for 100 consecutive days but instead as a choice to find at least ONE piece of joy in each day, every day for 100 days.  It is often I see and hear and even experience it myself, where something goes wrong and it robs the joy from the day, one little thing makes it difficult to find our way back to happy.  How ironic that happiness can be so fleeting while anger and misery so lasting.  But we can all make a different choice.  I am choosing a happiness that lasts. I am choosing to find at least one piece of joy in every day for the next 98 days.  Won't you join me?  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Book: Strings Attached

A little over a month ago, I made a deal with myself that I would get back to reading books.  As a child, I read so much, I needed glasses by the age of 10 and by the age of 12, my vision had deteriorated to the point I could only see the big 'E' on the top row of the optometrist's letter board.  Since that time, my vision has remained largely the same, improving and then alternately regressing slightly.  I wish I could say my book reading habits have remained the same, that is, devouring whole books in a single day, but sadly they have not.  Time is a frequent scapegoat for why most things are left undone, and I too, like to blame it for this decline.  However, a more accurate culprit would most likely be, intention.

So, at the end of October, I made it my intention to get back to reading books.  I decided if time was the culprit, surely I could read at least one book per month.  I made this pact on October 27th and have just finished my 3rd book, Strings Attached: One tough teacher and the gift of great expectations, by Joanne Lipman & Melanie Kupchynsky.   It was a great read and left me a feeling quite sentimental.  In fact, so sentimental I felt moved to write.  Won't you hear me out?

I spent quite a bit of time thinking of my mom and her "tough love" way of being throughout my childhood while reading this book.  I recalled the memories of bringing home B's on report cards and being happy to show her to which she responded, "A 'B'?!? My child doesn't bring home B's!!" and to then dismiss me to go study.  Or when I bought home A's and she inquired as to why the A's weren't A+'s.  There was also the time I misspelled "bias" in the 6th grade spelling bee.  When I returned home that evening, I had to write a one-page paper on "bias"and its importance in the world.  That paper was hung by the door to my bedroom, on full view so that I would never forget "bias is a thing that can make or break you".  And although we had a dishwasher at home, my mom never let me use it, claiming "doing things the hard way built character." She would often use that philosophy as a metaphor for dealing with difficulties in life.

Growing up, I thought my mom was tough and I often felt nothing I did would ever please her.  But, I worked hard in my attempts.  I graduated high school with a 4.6 GPA (AP and honors classes were weighted higher) and my first college GPA was a 4.0.  With enough lecturing from my mom, I eventually began to believe I could do anything I put my mind to.  I remember once arguing with the quarterback of the high school football team that if I worked hard enough, I could run 40 yards in under 5 seconds.  

My mom's tough love continues to inspire me to work hard.  I understand that the big things in life won't be easy.  Difficulty never deters me.  I dig in deep and ultimately, I know I am built for the challenges.  Sometimes people tell me it's almost as if I believe I can will things to turn out the way I want.  But it's not that I believe I can will the world to my whims, but moreso I believe, if I work hard and persist, my efforts will give way to my desires.

Strings Attached is a book about how great expectations can lead to success but is also a book about friendship.  I thought a lot about my friends while reading this book, those near and far; the friends I talk to daily and those who have dedicated their lives to teaching and those I don't talk to as often but when we do talk, we pick up right where we left off as if not a second has passed since we last spoke.  I thought a lot about how life throws us curves and how things don't often turn out as we had hoped.  I thought about how life can be "messy" and yet,  beautiful.  I thought all these things as I poured over the words of this book and I felt grateful my life.  Grateful for tough love and great expectations.  Grateful for family.  Grateful for friends.  Grateful for today and grateful for this very moment.

As my life continues, I know I will from time to time think back on this story and the people in it.  And I will remember how one person living a life with passion can positively impact the world. I've always believed that the best works of art make you feel something; joy, anger, love, sadness, nostalgia.  Strings Attached stirred up all of these emotions and then some.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pinning and Pining for Glam

I don't know what got into me this morning but I haven't been on Pinterest in months, until this morning when I embarked upon on a small pinning spree. The spree could have resulted because I snoozed through my morning workout or because I showed up to my client's job site unkempt and wearing running clothes and just felt like I needed a little bit of glam in my life but whatever the case, these dresses are fabulous and should be in my closet! 

                 Dolce & Gabbana
   Photo credit: rus.dolcegabbana.com

                          Zac Posen
   Photo credit:   
   www.louboosandshoes.blogspot.com

                  
                        Zuhair Murad
Photo credit: www.weddinginspirasi.com

   Photo credit:     
   www.oneposhlife.tumblr.com

   Photo credit:  
   www.oneposhlife.tumblr.com






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Max Glam

Walking around in Georgetown last week and spotted these lovely chairs in the Jonathan Adler store window. I love these! So glam! 

Jonathan Adler "Maxime" chair in linen.
Photo credit: www.jonathanadler.com

        Jonathan Adler "Maxime" chair in     
                         shearling. 
    Photo credit: www.jonathanadler.com

       Jonathan Adler "Maxime" chair in   
                           shearling.
                      Photo my own.

   Jonathan Adler "Maxime" chair in linen
                     Photo my own.




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Penelope and CoCo

This blog really should just be a shoe blog because it seems shoes are what I post about most. But nevertheless, it seems I am late to the Penelope and CoCo shoe party. Penelope and Coco is a brand based out of Los Angeles that manufactures fab, fab, fab shoes made in the USA.  My favorites are featured below.

          "Edie" 
          Photo credit:
          www.penelopeandcoco.com

       "Farrah"
       Photo credit: 
       www.penelopeandcoco.com
     Photo credit:
     www.penelopeandcoco.com
       "Millie"
       Photo credit: 
       www.penelopeandcoco.com


    Photo credit: 
    www.afendibagandabadattitude.com