Sunday, December 21, 2014

MantLESS in Atomic Ranch

After living in an art deco stucco bungalow equipped with a gorgeous fireplace mantle, I am beside myself with the means of decorating our new mid-century home without a fireplace. The mantle is that lovely focal point where large mirrors and paintings lovingly hover over the fire. The mantle is also that central station for holiday greenery, Christmas stockings and funky decor to be displayed.

Now that we are settled into our mid-century home, I have had to change my mindset in terms of decor. Our furniture has changed from late-1800s Empire to 1950s atomic styling. Our plentiful early 1900 decor collections have been thrown in a box for addressing at another time. Now, we have our vintage holiday decor, with no fireplace to rest upon. 

How does one decorate for the holidays in a home without a mantle? How does the holiday design flourish in an atomic home that is intended to demonstrate minimalism and accentuate thoughtful design? I have used various areas of the home to substitute as mantles for holiday decoration, but I want to hear from other atomic ranch owners.
Steamer Trunk Winterscape: For now, we have moved our vintage 1940s steamer trunk to the mid-century home. We aren't sure if we will keep it in our home but trunks in general are terrific for storage, so it is staying for now. All the same, this steamer trunk is falling victim to displaying our holiday decor. I tried keeping the decor to a minimum, only pulling out holiday items that had the atomic vibe, including items from other parts of the home. 
Credenza Santa Festival: This vintage Danish Modern credenza was the biggest monetary splurge for our new home. It hides the television and stereo equipment and provides ample storage. This credenza is pretty much the focal point of the living room, much like a fireplace mantle. Why not use it like a mantle for holiday decor? I dug out all of our vintage and Scandinavian Santas so that they can have a party of a lifetime. The holiday cards we received in the mail were also displayed amongst the gathering. 
Peaceful Entry: Where would the holidays be without a door wreath? As you know, I'm nuts for changing up our holiday wreath between October through January. Our rosemary bushes were out of control so I had bunched and tied a handful of rosemary trimmings to our wreath. The wreath is not illuminated in this photo, but I found these tiny LED dewdrop lights that were perfect for wreath illumination. The whole look was offset by a starburst ornament kicked off to the side. The lore associated with rosemary is also perfect for the entryway: It is believed to ward off evil spirits, provide good energy, and purify the air. Rosemary symbolizes love and loyalty and the scent is known to enhance memory and leave a lasting impression. Why wouldn't you want rosemary at your entry to do its magic for you and your guests?
Our vintage aluminum tree was displayed in the middle of the room this year, so that it could be seen from the walkway. Last year, we displayed it near the sliding glass door, which could hardly be seen unless you were lounging in the courtyard.

I would love to hear from other mid-century home owners who do not have a mantle. How do you decorate for the holiday season? Where and how do you display your holiday decor?


Friday, December 12, 2014

Southern California Speed Vacation

I've been starving for a vacation with all of the work and life stresses as of late. Between the ongoing house renovation finances pulling in one direction, and the work unhappiness pulling in the opposite direction, the best one can do is plow forward as best as possible. Hubby was also embroiled in the completion of the house, and our marriage has been strained through these changes. I decided the best I could do is plan a girls trip close, but far away.

Just so happened that one of my friends was flying into Los Angeles for a work event and I conveniently had another friend, whom I haven't seen in years, residing in L.A. as well. It was a nice time, in between the stressful holidays to escape even just for a little bit of time.
'Ousted' in Venice Beach. Maybe it was the time of the year, and the fact that we stopped by around sunset on a cool evening, but Venice Beach was initially not a shockingly crazy as I was hoping for. The top memories for me were the plethora of graffiti art objects, even the palm trees, as you can see far left. As a fan of detailed, colorful and/or thought-provoking graffiti and stencil art, I was loving it. My friend and I had a bottle of champagne and walked along the shops. Saw a guy riding the LONGEST long board that I've ever seen. A stranger passed by and yelled at the long boarder, "you must be trying to compensate for something!" Ah, that's the Venice Beach I was looking for!
After visiting my friend, I met up with some other friends for lunch in Manhattan Beach. I arrived early so I killed time by walking around on the beach and pier. Watching surfers connect with the waves. Entranced. I ducked into a couple of shops and to my surprise, I almost *literally* ran into Vince Vaughn! (I was completely surprised given that earlier in the day I walked for several miles along Melrose Avenue and spotted no one.) Most of the patrons were gawking and pointing him out to their companions in the shop. I went on my merry way, trying not to ogle at him. I'm sure celebrities are sick of it.
I picked up my other friend who flew to the area for work and we hit the road south. The first night we stayed in Dana Point. To our surprise, a killer holiday event was in progress. The walk down to the harbor was decorated with lights. We picked a random seafood restaurant, Wind and Sea, and sat outside. I drank the best Mai Tai (or two) and we watched numerous boats float by decked out with holiday light decorations. It was such a chill, fun night. I think I caught my maritime bug here!
We went onward toward San Diego after walking around in killer San Juan Capistrano. The sun was setting as we were driving, so we exited toward Oceanside and parked quickly to walk out on the pier. This little pelican didn't give a damn about the many people walking past. He was on a mission to steal the fisherman's fresh catch. Pictured here is this little gypsy creepily staring at the fisherman (not pictured.)
The sunset was a story teller. It changed colors many times. At times it was cloudier, and other times it was brighter. Coming from a landlocked area, it was pure heaven to watch the sun slowly descend, with the clouds dancing around it, and the waves singing below. Gosh, I needed this.
The next night we stayed in La Jolla, and we did a bit of everything. Drank microbrew, shopped, ate and hiked the nice long pathway that runs along the coastline. The whole time I was walking along the coastline with my friend, gawking at the beautiful houses, I thought how lucky these residents are! I suppose the grass is greener, but I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful expansive views. We also watched the seals sunbathing, cuddling and getting fussy with one another. I could have watched the seals all day. What interesting creatures they are.
The last night we stayed in San Diego, specifically in Point Loma. This is a view from the point toward San Diego at sunrise. Sailboats mooring close by. The marina was on the other side of the point. I again fell in love with the maritime life, and couldn't wait to tell my husband about my interest in this lifestyle. My husband is itching to sail someday. Someday...

The Southern Cali Speed Vacation, as I put it, was definitely the swaddling blanket I needed as of late. I felt a resurgence of blood in my body and feeling in my soul. Perhaps the waters' force had something to do with it. Perhaps it was getting away from it all. Or, maybe, it was the change in routine. The best recommendation for a this quick trip, is the connection to animals in their natural environment. I can't stress that enough with today's commercialization of animals. Otherwise, the views don't hurt either! Make a quickie out of Southern California if pressed for time. You won't regret it.