Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the post christmas toy explosion, and how to deal

 photo copyright ikea 2009 all rights reserved

Every year at this time, it becomes painfully obvious at our house that despite a measure of cutting back, plenty of weeding through and donating, and cunning storage ideas here, there, and everywhere, the sad truth is that the toys are taking over.  It doesn't help that there are four kiddies, and one has a birthday uncomfortably close to Christmas  -- it's a bit of a yikes moment.  So, what to do, -- especially about Teddy's extreme train collection, and our family's bordering on obsessive board game and craft collections? The charming vintage trunks and dressers, and even the vintage office and store filing cabinets, with lots of sweet little drawers, aren't quite filling the need.  So despite our general penchant for figuring out how to reuse old things, whether ours or just new to us, we took a family trip to our local ikea this afternoon.  Our motto at Ikea, esp. when children are along, is to come prepared, so I'd measured my space, perused the catalog, and even checked the website to see if my local store had the item in stock . . . . so, an hour later, success! -we loaded our three ikea ps cabinets and brought them home.  Now we're just waiting for dad to come home and build them really quick.  They are bright red, quite trim and modern, and have a locker/institutional feel that i hope will work with my powder coated old lab stools from Cal Poly, which are happily red, too. My plan is just to line the cabinets up along a wall in our little living room next to the kitchen -- they are just the right height at 24" to allow Teddy to chuff his choo-choos right along the top.  And i can close the doors on some more of the games, puzzles, kaleidoscopes, knights, playmobil people on bikes, dancing bears . . . you get the idea!  I'll post a photo when it's done.

photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

so that's our kitchen, complete with red powder coated lab stools from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, that's next to the little living room where Teddy plays most, and where Ikea ps cabinets in red will hopefully provide the additional storage that we need. 

and just to let you know we weren't joking on the reuse old things front, check out these excellent storage solutions that work well, and reuse castoffs in a fun way:  

we use these old lockers just as they were meant to be used, except not at school, of course . . . of course, they were an appalling shade of painted over blue/pink/orange cream when we snagged them at Sarasota Architectural Salvage (act quick if you see these -- they are very popular) -- but no worries, our local auto body shop was happy to spray them any one of about two thousand colors for us -

photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

and here's another, a steel cabinet used for fifty years in a hardware store for nuts and bolts, and now powder coated screaming orange (Teddy's favorite) and used in his room for army guys, matchbox cars, playmobil people, papo knights, and on and on for thirty drawers.  i swear it's teaching him to read!


photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

and another idea, another hardware store castoff, this time with fewer, bigger drawers perfect for craft supplies; stamps, glitter, glue, our nine hot glue guns (don't ask -- we moved across the country multiple times!), stickers, paint . . . this one is refreshingly in its "found" state, minus the coffee streaks (i haven't decided on a paint color, yet).


photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

year round worthy felt ball wreath (try saying that ten times fast)

via seesaw designs and a cup of jo, photos copyright pickles 2009

isn't this marvelous? we just really want to start making it right about now . . . instructions are available at scandinavian star Pickles, click here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

a thought for tomorrow, at the end of the year

photo copyright lakbdesign 2009 all rights reserved

We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.
H. G. Wells

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!!! And in case you tried to make the gingerbread - sorry- it's add the liquid gingerbread mix with everything in it to two cups of flour -- it will be a very liquid batter but not as liquid as it would have been without the flour! Thx Mairead! xla

Sunday, December 20, 2009

our favorite gingerbread recipe. super yum.

our favorite gingerbread recipe (thanks, nigella)
adapted slightly from our favorite cookbook, Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess; and please, don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe -- it’s really easy

*you can make this as specified in the recipe, in a nine by thirteen pan, in which case you just cut it when cool into about twenty rectangular pieces, or you can get a it creative, and do something else . . . we like to make gingerbread cupcakes, iced with the royal icing from the recipe, and decorated with a sprinkle of Wilton sparkly edible “snow” sugar, or with Martha Stewart’s very pretty holly and berry sugar sprays, both available at Michaels*

so, for the gingerbread:

a half cup plus two tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
a half cup plus two tablespoons brown sugar
three quarters of a cup plus one tablespoon of light corn syrup
three quarters of a cup plus one tablespoon of molasses
two teaspoons of ginger, either fresh grated or the ground up kind you can buy in a jar at specialty food shops, and store in your refrigerator
one teaspoon ground cinnamon
one cup plus two tablespoons milk or soymilk
two large eggs, beaten to mix
one teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in two tablespoons warm water
2 cups all purpose flour

grease a twelve by nine roasting pan, and line with parchment paper or foil

for the icing:

one tablespoon lemon juice, or lime if you’re stuck
way more than the half cup icing/confectioner’s sugar that nigella recommends
one tablespoon of warm water, or an otherwise appropriate amount

preheat the oven to 325F

in a big saucepan, melt the butter along with the sugar, syrup, molasses, ginger, and cinnamon.  Off the heat, add the milk, eggs, and baking soda in its water.  Measure the flour out into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed - it will be a very liquid batter.  Pour it into the pan and bake for three quarters of an hour to an hour, until risen and firm. It will carry on cooking as it cools, so be careful not to overcook.  It is better when it’s a little sticky.  When it’s cool, make the icing.  Whisk the lemon juice into the sugar first, and then gradually add warm water.  You want the icing to be just right - thick enough to slather it on with a knife, but thin enough so that some of it drips down the edges of the cake.  Yum.  Cut into squares or rectangles, as you wish.

you can make this gingerbread in lots of ways; in the nine by thirteen pan, as cupcakes, in individual loaf pans for your neighbors, in a star shaped cake pan, whatever you have handy, really . . . . you can set off the rich dark brown of the cake with royal icing and  edible “snow”, or you can simply sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  But the best ever version is the gingerbread mold, this year available at williams sonoma as a cakelet pan, with a little Christmas village of houses and a church that pop out perfectly detailed.  Just make them, set them up on a pretty cake pedestal, ice with “snow”, and voila, a lovely anchor for your holiday table, or a charming and delicious gift.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

So, we're stuck on a snowbound highway on our way to Cincinnati, and the snow is falling, piling up on branches, ploughed to three and four feet deep at the sides of the road. It's beautiful but so dangerous - we've seen so many accidents, and we were stuck, sleeping, on interstate 77 for nine hours last night . .. The whole fergusandme family, fergus himself (he's curled around my feet right now, asleep) and Ginger, caroline's baby guinea pig. Pass the pig is proving to be a popular passtime;) she's very cuddly! We've had some fun snowball wars, a spirited game of I spy, even a little dora's Christmas carol. Now it's quiet, everyone's tired, and Sarah mcclaghlan's Christmas is playing . . . Last night we were sustained by the tin of pretty iced Christmas cookies and gingerbread I brought along. The next post will be a gingerbread recipe; delicious, perfect with tea or coffee, or for breakfast, or even for dinner if you're stuck in an impromptu gathering on a closed down highway -

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

can't wait to see these in person . . .

we are loving blabla's new dream ring things, and can't wait to see them in person at the Atlanta show . . . we love too that these are handmade sustainably in Peru and that their talented makers are paid fairly for their work ~ makes them more expensive for us, but it's worth it! Pity these weren't around for Christmas gifting.

in case you didn't know ~

photo layout via papier mache

in case you didn't know . . .  papier mache, a beyond adorable australian (why are those australians so cool?) online magazine for children and their parents (maybe more for the parents) is gorgeous, inspiring, and choc a block with ideas . . . . you should take a look, really.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

this kids woot is a hoot

today at kids' woot ~ portable ping pong! the fergsuandme family LOVE ping pong, and play it at the houses of lucky friends who have newer houses with large "bonus" rooms and therefore enough space for a ping pong table . . . . so, here's a cheap and cheerful solution to our no room for ping pong -- excuse me -- table tennis, conundrum: buy as many of these 5.99 on the go ping pong sets as you want for one 5.00 shipping fee. but beware: here today, gone tomorrow!

Monday, November 30, 2009

mad, and i mean mad! hungry

after feeding everyone in the fergusandme family constantly for the entire food-laden thanksgiving weekend, i have decided that i probably need some new recipes.  while i'm great at baking (thanks mom, and nigella, and occasionally martha) i don't like to touch raw meat, so my actual cooking repertoire is quite limited.  but in my december issue of martha's Living mag, i found some excerpted recipes from the above book, written by lucinda scala quinn, martha's longtime foodie editor.  and i must say, they looked yummy.  so, i will be venturing out later with my B&N coupon in hand to pick up a copy -- mad hungry, cooking for men and boys sounds like just what i need (although caroline and i seem to get v. hungry too . . . !) stay tuned for recipe commentary!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

sodastream, seventies thrift, redux

when i was little in scotland, we didn't have Coke or Fanta so much, or even Irn Bru ~ what we had was a soda stream, a magical contraption that would carbonate water, and then we could add sickly sweet syrups to our heart's content

ahh. . . . those were the days, the seventies.  funnily enough, though, i've recently been thinking about the soda stream as we've stopped buying cases of water in favor of the more earth friendly option of refilling bpa-free water bottles (makes a huge difference when there are six of you, even though we always recycled the disposable bottles -)

And i happen to love carbonated beverages, especially ones with just a little bit of flavor.  And since we don't live within range of a cool old-timey seltzer delivery service, we've been pretty much stuck with buying the occasional bottle of pellegrino at the store.  but no more! the soda stream is an ideal solution, and it will be going on my christmas list, for sure!

Friday, November 20, 2009

new bags from johnnie boden

found in today's otherwise boring inbox:  a spring preview at 20% off from johnnie boden (here's the catch ~ order now, get in january . . . i'm guessing this is an inventory control effort . . . but, whatever).  so, i went to the site and i was busily checking out the usual extremely cute but highly predictable little boys' shirts in various iterations, you know, t-shirt with dog on skateboard, t-shirt with friendly monster appliqued on, layered t-shirt with pteranodon, etc., etc. (i buy a bunch for teddy every season; they ARE fun, impossible to destroy, comfy, and BRITISH, and, maybe more to the point, are eminently resellable on eBay -- our oldest boy becomes VERY entrepreneurial when he runs low on cash!) when i found my mouse wandering on over to the girls' and women's offerings.  always dangerous, i know! so, anyway, i'll be placing my order for the usual stuff, but i found myself v. v. tempted by a few gorgeous bags  . . . the sad part is, not available till january.  ah well, they'll be a welcome bright spot in the grey days after the holidays, no?!

from miniboden, and only $24


completely adorable, could see this as a decor piece, even . . . one track mind, i guess!


possibly an impractical "shopper", but WOW!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

some little things

when we were in england a few weeks ago, we stayed at the old parsonage at iffley, near oxford . . . you can see it here; you can even rent it for a holiday, like we did . . . and of course there were lots of lovely things to photograph.  we'll do interiors later, but outside, the pretty garden swept down to the Thames (it's called the Isis in Oxford -- have you ever watched inspector morse or the newer inspector lewis on PBS?  it seems there are so many murders in oxford for such a small city!!!)  so alec, our fourteen year old, took the photos above in the garden . . . aren't they pretty?  they really evoke the quiet english garden, like this poem, i think ~


There's nothing very beautiful and nothing very gay   
About the rush of faces in the town by day;  
But a light tan cow in a pale green mead,  
That is very beautiful, beautiful indeed…  
And the soft March wind and the low March mist          
Are better than kisses in a dark street kissed…  
The fragrance of the forest when it wakes at dawn,  
The fragrance of a trim green village lawn,  
The hearing of the murmur of the rain at play—  
These things are beautiful, beautiful as day!  
And I shan't stand waiting for love or scorn  
When the feast is laid for a day new-born…  
Oh, better let the little things I loved when little  
Return when the heart finds the great things brittle;  
And better is a temple made of bark and thong  
Than a tall stone temple that may stand too long.

little things 
orrick johns

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a tribute to family togetherness in the good ol' days~

polaroids are great, aren't they? . . . 

and you thought your family had issues!

everyone's new favorite 

via a cup of jo

 where to go:
*for funny holiday presents 
*for a laugh if family togetherness isn't quite living up to the memories this holiday season.


inca kids; fair trade goodies, perfect for gifting

How's that holiday shopping coming??  it's kind of a minefield this year, we think.  In the fergusandme family, we're a big bit concerned about over-consumption, buying throwaway "stuff" year after year made in who-knows-where, and in that act possibly hurting or exposing the most vulnerable people on our planet to who-knows-how horrible situations  . . . (okay, we're not all completely virtuous: one or two of us still have a list for Santa chock full of toys, toys, toys . . .more on this later~)

So, what to do?  We're buying vintage, or just old, and making some special things.  We're trying to have every gift be considered, and meaningful, of course.  And we're seeking out fair trade merchants, vendors concerned about who's making their products.  So here's the first in what we hope will be a series of suggestions, vetted for cuteness and coolness by our crack team of hard-to-please kids., a project member of the Fair Trade Federation, offers adorable and unique handmade Peruvian art, created with natural materials and traditional techniques, and even better, every purchase supports a struggling family.  Now that's a gift we can live with.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

hello again ~

we've been in Bath, in England, for the lovely wedding of my darling not so little brother and his perfectly adorable, beautiful wife . . . it was such a special day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

do you love hedgehogs? new favorite etsy shop

from sara carr's etsy shop 

sweet kissing hedgehogs, hand knitted and knobbly -- wish i could knit like that ~



and, just in time for autumn's chill, some clever pencil scarves ~


fergusandme has already hearted sara's shop . . . ., for fantastic fabrics displayed en collage

okay, i admit i love these old cars and streetscapes, but take a look at the fab fabrics so gorgeously embellishing the scene.  They're all collected, along with charming ribbons and buttons, at

i really love the collage-y displays ~


makes me want to make something, anything, that requires a ribbon . . .notice the adorable helen dardik design at top, and you can look at her blog here


fun, huh?

Friday, October 9, 2009

and one more pretty in plummy purple

image via

i'm holding a big piece of this beacon hill linen and silk mix crewel right now (it's fittingly called secret romance) and it is honestly stunning (the image doesn't do it justice at all) and what I'm thinking of is doing a sort of slightly over the top tricia guild-esq stunner of a drawing room (with this fabric, it's a drawing room, not a plain ol' living room!), using a marvelous pink and plum palette.  Hmm . . . sounds gorgeous.  time to create something lovely, i think.

delicious fabrics from designer's guild

images via

we are loving the yummy roumier collection from designer's guild  -- the colorways are delicious plums and pinks and purples, very a la mode! -- and the fabrics are so sumptuous, in rich velvets and wools -- perfect colors for fall, we think ~

image via

the fabric above, leblond from the roumier collection, is especially perfect . . . it's an out-of-the-chocolate box delight, and we can't wait for an excuse to use it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

small magazine's autumn 09 issue

small magazine presents a lovely online collection of the best art, photography, design, clothing, and general goodies for the little ones -- this jam-packed issue features the lovely art of Lisa Golightly (Kiki and Polly) and Isabelle Arsenault. You'd be mad not to check it out, here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

i was very honored and quite thrilled to be interviewed for Bonham Knightsbridge's Period Design catalog in August, and i absolutely loved looking through all the fabulous lots; it was difficult to chose just a few to discuss. i'm hoping there will be a sale while i'm in England in October . . . could be double dangerous! but, thanks, Charlie et al, especially Megs.  It was a delight to be the featured designer in August's Period Design!

for the little ones . . . fall edition

photo via anthropologie, owl available here
if you know her, you'll not be surprised that caroline MUST have this owl !

so, fall, for me, isn't just thoughts of mums, pumpkins, trick or treating, and on to the mad dash through turkey eating and on again to the holidays -- it's more fundamental, a response to the days drawing in and the chill in the air -- i find myself thinking of some of my favorite times from my childhood in Scotland; dark afternoons before Brownies meetings in the church crypt, the sing song chant of twenty little girls, "good evening Brown Owl, Good evening Tawny Owl, good evening, friend Brownie" our greeting to each other, - and the drive home for a "tea" of toasted cheese, thinking of carved turnips, not pumpkins, and the magic of enid blyton books and bonfire night ahead . . . maybe that's why i have a soft spot for owls . . . we actually have a big barn owl resident in our back garden; he sometimes comes near the driveway to "visit" our bunnies and eat their fallen food, much to their chagrin! So, in honor of and in hopes of a quieter, maybe simpler, more magical fall, here are a few of our new and old favorites, for the little ones ... 

 first, the eponymous british fairy stories by the eponymous british author, enid blyton, a trilogy, the enchanted wood, the faraway tree, and the folk of the faraway tree, available here 

photo courtesy

next, evocative and adorable art from favorite etsy artists kikiandpolly and creative thursday

photos courtesy creative thursday and kikiandpolly, all rights reserved

so perfect for children, and us, . . . and so sweet

and more etsy favorites~

photo courtesy girlsavage, all rights reserved
girlsavage's jaunty jackalope

photo courtesy feltmates, all rights reserved

feltmates friendly, fuzzy owl measuring tape (extra cute gift!)


photo courtesy isewlucky, all rights reserved
isewlucky's fab fabric owl, with dressmaker detailing


photo courtesy nyhop, all rghts reserved
nyhop's gentle-faced bunnies (you can request a portrait of your own bunny on a shirt -we'll be doing this with a portrait of our lovely little angus and rosie ~)

~so you see why we LOVE etsy~

and just one more etsy thing

photo courtesy fairyfolk, all rights reserved

woodland gnome in a snug little woodland home, from fairyfolk

~the fergusandme family wishes you magic this fall, and forever~