Coastal Christmas Trees


I know, I know, Christmas is over. But the holidays aren’t, so these images still feel appropriate. I love the juxtaposition of the Christmas tree with the clear, blue ocean behind. Not something you get in Wisconsin!



Business progress


I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just cannot work effectively without a deadline.  I also tend to find myself overwhelmed if I have a large task to accomplish….that is really a lot of smaller undefined tasks.  To that end, Sara and I had a very professional (read: not so much, but still productive!) meeting last night to discuss our next steps to getting this business off the ground!  We’ve got big developments coming up on several fronts:

  • Website.  The plan is to purchase our own domain name for our site, and this blog will become a part of our overall brand.  We have a launch date in mind, but I suppose we should run it by our actual website and graphic design professionals before setting it in stone.  🙂
  • not sure what to call it, but maybe Customer Documents?  We’ve had sketchy ideas about how to actually frame the work that we’ll be doing, ie. how to get the information we need from the client, pricing and package options, our deliverable documents, etc., but we’ve now gone beyond the ideas of the things to actually map them out and create deadlines for ourselves for a trial run of those documents in order to serve….
  • …our first client!  (Sure, it’s my mom, but doesn’t everyone look to their mom for that first break?)  She’s been talking about wanting to redo a room in her home for some time, and I jumped on the opportunity for her to let us use this as a test drive of our product.  Luckily we aren’t coming into this completely green – Sara and I both work in the real world as design professionals, and I’ve done some architecturally related moonlighting myself in the past.  However, we know that flesh and blood clients who do not know us personally are not going to be as forgiving or willing to hire us as, say, my mom, if we don’t have a defined road map of how this whole project will lay out.  We’re very excited to get to work on this, and I know she is as well.  (We’ve been delaying for a very good reason, but more on that another time soon hopefully!)  Once the aforementioned website is up and running, we’ll be posting the results of this project as well as some of our previous design work in the portfolio section.

Anyway, we hope you look forward to some big developments from EFeDesigns in 2010!


Currently Loving


…waking up to coffee like this on cold winter mornings in Wisconsin.  🙂

Thanks to this:

I got this Bialetti cappuchino and latte set from my sisters for my birthday.  (Thanks sisters!)  I now enjoy fancy schmansy lattes at my dining room table (or more typically in my travel mug) without having to hit up a coffee shop!  The 6 cup Moka plus the milk frother makes 2 perfectly sized large cups.  Everything just looks better after a yummy pretty cup of coffee.  (If you’re not a coffee drinker, the frother part is great for making chai lattes, frothy hot chocolates, or even milkshakes (according to the book – I don’t drink cold milkshakes in winter!))

Holiday Card Display


A few weeks ago I wrote about controlling holiday card clutter, and I just wanted to share quickly how I managed it this year in my home.  I kept it sweet and simple, and really cost effective (read: FREE) thanks to the remaining dollar spools of ribbon that are left over from overzealous supply purchasing from my wedding a few years ago.  (Sidenote, I have found that having this ribbon on hand has been awesome!  I am never lacking for a pretty touch on a package, I’ve even used small loops in place of ornament hooks.  Once the holidays are over I’m definitely planning to head to my local craft store to pick up some additional colors!)

(please forgive the graininess of these images – I’m having camera setting issues!  Anyone know anything about a Canon Elph SD750??)

For starters, I took the wider ribbon and tied it to the end of my curtain rod.  Then as the cards came rolling in, I just punched a small hole in the back, and used the narrow ribbon to tie it to the main.  The cards fall neatly in line with the drapes and can easily be read!  The part I love most – how they don’t all topple over on my shelf if someone, oh, looks at them.  🙂

Happy holidays to you and yours!


Planning for…Spring?


I know, I know, the week of Christmas is an odd time to be planning for spring home improvement projects, what with all the cold weather offering plenty of time for tackling all of my 3/4 finished inside projects.  (Not to mention celebrating those end of year holidays…but I digress.)  Actually, the holidays and the cold are what got me thinking in the first place, and requesting gift cards to home improvement stores on my wishlist.  Why?  Because, while hilarious, asking for 56 sheets of rigid insulation is a little impractical.  Yes, I am 90% sure that the huge project of spring and summer 2010 will be….siding and insulation.

My home was built in 1947.  It’s an adorable (in my biased opinion) cape cod….that might as well be open to the great outdoors.  Last summer (of 2008) my husband undertook the insulation of our attic, which it desperately needed.  We had about an inch of highly flammable balsa wood up there serving basically no purpose.  He painstakingly hauled it all out, installed baffles and paper faced insulation, and gave the whole thing a dusting of recycled, eco-friendly cellulose.  We waited for our first winter in our new old house, expecting to be toasty warm and laugh at those energy bills aaaaand….nothin.  (Well, maybe not NOTHING, but not.  warm.)  As it turns out….our walls have virtually no insulation.  We’re talking they range from an R3 to an R1, depending on how it has settled.  In layman’s terms, it’s like wearing a windbreaker in the arctic.  It stops the wind (sort of, I swear I can feel drafts) but not much else.

Last summer (of 2009) we tore out basically our entire yard to fix some drainage problems, a toppling, pointless retaining wall that didn’t retain and that everyone kept hitting with their cars, and to remedy some general ugliness.  We went from this:

to this:

(The removal of the pine tree on the left is still pending – it’s actually about 30 or 40 feet tall!  Too big to DIY.  Also, we did manage to grow some grass.)  We planned to put in some new landscaping next summer, but thought to maybe hold off on anything near the house in case we decided to re-do the siding…which is aluminum, dirty, chalking, falling off at the corners, and is the second layer over some very lovely peach/pink stock.  Well, here we are starting another long Wisconsin winter, and the decision is in – we MUST do the insulation project sooner rather than later, and in order to get at the innards of the walls, we must also do the siding.  (True, you CAN drill holes and repair…but we have nothing worth saving.)  So, my early December has been filled with not only holiday preparations, but with number crunching to try and make this project a reality next summer.  The plan so far involves a LOT of sweat labor on behalf of my husband and myself, and we’re weighing the pros and cons of vinyl siding vs. cement board.  The pros of cement board is a 50 year lifespan, and the ability to easily change color, should a future owner actually want to have a white house (we don’t), and it’s more environmentally friendly as it avoids the use of PVC, and the pro of vinyl is…cost.  In the end we might sacrifice doing the garage siding at the same time in order to go with the higher quality material, but time will tell.

In the meantime, however, I have plans for the interior of my home, as well as a follow up as to how I solved my holiday card problem this year!  (I meant to post this today, but didn’t manage to take pictures, so stay tuned!)


Sleeping in Silk


Attention dust-mite allergy sufferers: I have a solution.  It’s not going to take away your allergies, but it just might help you sleep through the night without waking up sneezing at 2:00 in the morning.  What’s the solution?  Silk comforters.

I myself didn’t know they existed until about two weeks ago.  When I got married 3 ½ years ago, I went the simple route.  I bought one of those bedding in a bag packages…it was inexpensive and easy.  There wasn’t much in the stores that I was excited about at the time (that I could afford that is), so when I saw a pattern that I even remotely liked, I didn’t care that it came in a bag.  It’s your typical cotton comforter and ever since the first time I washed & dried it, I’ve hated it.  The dryer made the cotton inside start to clump so my bedding always looked and felt lumpy.  Not to mention the fact that it is such a nuisance to wash at home (it’s a king sized comforter), so I don’t do it nearly as often as I should.  I may wash my sheets every week in hot water to kill the dust mites, but the comforter only saw the inside of the washing machine about three times a year.  Which resulted in me frequently waking up in the early hours of the morning sneezing nonstop.

Because of the sneezing and the clumpy bedding, I’ve wanted a new comforter for quite some time now.  With this new comforter, I vowed to take care of it better so that I wouldn’t be so sneezy at night, but I also wanted to make sure I got something that I could clean at home and that wouldn’t lump up on me.  I used to have a down comforter and LOVED it, but I knew it wasn’t an option this time because it’s not something I can wash at home and dry cleaning a down comforter every month is certainly too expensive of an option for me to consider.  So I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for.  Maybe just a quilted coverlet so that I could wash it at home and it wouldn’t get lumpy?  Maybe one of those down alternative comforters?

Well, in my research I discovered something better.  Something seemingly too good to be true….silk comforters.  What’s so good about a silk comforter you ask?  First of all, it’s just as warm as down.  Secondly, it’s lightweight.  These two traits combined mean I won’t be buried underneath the immense weight of the additional three or four blankets I usually have on top of my comforter.  Finally, and best of all, silk is inhospitable to dust mites.  True, silk also needs to be dry cleaned, but if you have a duvet cover, you should never have to clean your comforter—or very rarely.  And since dust mites can’t live in silk, those who suffer from dust mite allergies only have to worry about washing the duvet cover.

While not the cheapest option, it did appear to be my best one, so after quite a bit of research I ordered my very own silk comforter from Plumeria Bay (  My comforter arrived yesterday, which was perfect timing as the temperatures in Wisconsin have fallen drastically in the past couple of days and it was 0 or below outside last night.  The test run turned me into a silk convert.  It was everything it claimed to be—as warm as down (so I didn’t need any of the extra blankets I’ve been sleeping with lately), lightweight and I didn’t even sneeze once after sleeping with it all night.  Granted, it’s brand new so we’ll have to see if it holds up to the test of time, but I have a feeling it will.  And if it does, I may even have to start thinking about silk sheets…

This is what my old bedding looked like:

The new silk comforter looks like this:

And is covered by this duvet cover from West Elm:

I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight!


Tastefully Festive


With Thanksgiving 2009 in the bag, I now feel that it’s socially acceptable to start celebrating the Christmas season – I’m looking at you, retailers, with your holiday displays set up in September!  (I’m a firm believer in leaving my fall décor intact until after all that turkey has digested.  Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick in terms of decorating festivities.  In my home, my thanksgiving décor is basically the same as Halloween, minus anything overtly witchy or jack-o-lantern related.)

What do the holidays mean to me, in terms of dressing up the home?  Well, I’ll tell you what it DOESN’T mean – inflatable yard ornaments, plastic yard ornaments in general, net lighting on a single bush, a zillion figurines….in other words, please don’t be tacky!  Like most everything in life, anything can be done, if it’s done correctly and in moderation.  I’m driven slightly nuts by the light up deer…in the city.  Conversely, I have seen them done quite beautifully, set around a picturesque pond in lightly falling snow.  I’m also rather thrown by the Christmas villages in which the people are taller than the houses!  If a village is your thing, go for a consistent theme…and scale.

That said, here are some of my favorite ideas for a tasteful showing of holiday cheer!  (Personally, I celebrate Christmas, but I’m making an effort to exclude specific religious holidays).

I’ve been looking for a new way to display holiday cards aside from crowding window sills or shelves in the living room.   I like the idea of stringing them up on various beautiful ribbons.

This jingle bell display is really unique, and has the benefit of looking “finished” whether or not it’s been filled with cards.

Speaking of jingle bells…I personally think they LOOK gorgeous, but can become really irritating if they sound each and every time I open a door…or my cat remembers where they are.  This brandy snifter, or any other decorative glass bowl, pulls off the look without the noise!

Of course, I love ornaments on a tree, but I also love to see them in unexpected vignettes.  Here, a bunch can be hung from the ceiling or a chandelier.

In the past, before I had space for a full size tree, I’d set my favorite glass balls in a bowl as a centerpiece.

Finally, I love incorporating nature, and plants at the holidays go way beyond trees.  Think poinsettia,  amaryllis, paperwhite – any of these make a lovely and sophisticated addition to your holiday look.

What are some of your favorite holiday decorating ideas?

Wine, beer and drinks are permitted in all of the IPic auditoriums. IPic Theater auditoriums are 21 & over after 7pm. Wine, beer and drinks can be ordered from the Sequel Bar or the Lobby Bar and taken into the auditoriums for any show starting after 7pm.