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Friday, April 30, 2010

Building A Vacation Home or What I Do in School.

I thought you might like to see a project I have been working on all semester for my Space Planning class. I had to create a vacation/guest home for a client.

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The first part of the design process is known as Schematics. It consists of research such as familiarizing yourself with the geographical area, client special requests~in this case the clients wanted sustainable design~ aka green,etc. The client also wanted a home that has elements of universal design (aging in place, wheelchair accessible). The project also required that you select and explain your inspiration. My inspiration for this project came from Thorncrown Chapel. I had the opportunity to visit this lovely chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, many years ago. I remembered the peaceful feeling I had while being in the space. You can go to the website to read the entire background story of why and how the chapel was built. But I remembered that the owner, Jim Reed, was inspired to build Thorncrown “to give wayfarers a place to relax in an inspiring way.” While other students in the class selected inspiration in other forms like a pinecone or a leaf, I wanted a deeper meaning. I found it in Thorncrown. Thorncrown at Dusk

Next came Design Development. This is the fun part of designing a space. Certain challenges presented themselves such as the square footage footprint could not exceed 567 sq ft. A loft could be included if you so desired. (I SO desired, so I added an additional 252 sq ft on of loft space.)

The client of course had a wish list that included things such as a reading area, a craft area, a fireplace in the bedroom and living room, yadda, yadda, yadda. Think $$$$$$$$$$.

Did I mention that the entire budget to build AND furnish the entire home was $100,000? YIKES!

My concept based on how the client wanted the room to feel ( romantic, cozy, artistic) and look (lots of texture, earth tones) was “Rustic Elegance". Which translates into vintage and antique found treasures being used in new and creative ways (Meeting the green requirement.) Here are a few photos to give you a visual feel on how I envision this space.





So how to you turn pretty eye candy into reality? Hours and hours of work. I had to create design boards to present (and defend/support) all of my selections. This video is only 10 minutes of my 30 minute presentation.

I am now into the final phase of the project which is Construction Documents. So far I have spent over 25 hours on this section alone. I have drawn the designs in CAD (computer aided drafting). A total of 15 drawings will be turned in on Monday. Here is a sample of two of the drawings. They show furniture placement in the space. (As a side note, these are not the final drawings. I have since reconfigured the built in window seats in the living area and added in rugs to the space.) While the rooms may seem extra spacious, keep in mind that I had to allow access for wheelchairs, walkers, etc.

First Floor

CAD257 Loft Space


Who still thinks interior design is only glamorous and fun?

After several years of a grueling school schedule I now know it is also TONS of work and that love truly lives in the details, but happily, I still truly love to design.

Now, who wants to hire me? Because I REALLY need a job. 


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day Deliciousness

Our family tries to celebrate Earth Day everyday. Simple choices such as selecting the least amount of packaging when making purchases, carpooling, recycling and of course my favorite, shopping at thrift stores, all help our earth. But there is also another way to help the earth that is simple and truly delicious. (Keep reading for a few easy and yummy recipes.)  

blog 084 (Lemon~Blueberry Tea Cake)

Begin by buying organic. (Oh I just heard a large groan~ but stick with me.)


It tastes amazing. When I first joined our produce coop I had been buying baby carrots in a bag. In our first coop basket there were a bunch of good old fashioned carrots. I washed and ate one and goodness me~ it was a true taste of heaven. I had forgotten what an unprocessed carrot tasted like. You see after a bit of research I learned that the bag of carrots I was buying in the store were picked and cleaned WAYYYYY to early then injected with orange dye which results in less carroty (yes, it’s a word :) taste and yucky unnecessary chemicals. 

It is cheaper. Ok, let me clarify, if you join a produce coop (call your local city hall to find yours) and buy locally (GREAT FOR THE EARTH!) and in bulk with your neighbors you will get more for less. I drop off an empty laundry basket at Holly’s house every other Friday along with a check for $15.00 (yes, $15.00!) and this is a sample of what I receive when I pick up my basket on Saturday morning:

blog 029 If anyone can buy all of that at a grocery store for $15 I will eat a rutabaga raw. Here was what was underneath the other produce in the basket that you couldn’t see:

salmon 017

Of course I never know what we are going to get. But our family gets so excited to see what the basket will hold. By being in a coop and buying organic I am happy that I am not putting unnecessary chemicals into our earth or my family for that matter. Let’s face it, even if we wash our fruit and veggies well, not all of the chemicals come off. Over time the chemicals can cause cancer. That is an ugly fact. 

So do you want to see what an average dinner looks like at the Gunn house?

salmon 011 Easy peasy. Take a cookie sheet or baking pan and line it with recycled tin foil. Layer a mixture of cut up root vegetables (such as potatoes, carrots, onions,) add a few quartered tomatoes, sliced squash, etc. Top with the meat/fish of your choice~this time it was salmon. Add a bit of sea salt, ground pepper, other herbs you like and drizzle a wee bit of olive oil over the entire surface.

salmon 002 Take another piece of recycled tin foil and cover and crimp all of the edges closed. Bake in a 350 degree oven or on a grill until done. (About 30 minutes.)

salmon 003 For the Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus take a small amount of prosciutto (Italian ham that I buy at Trader Joe’s or Fresh and Easy) and wrap it around cleaned asparagus. Add a bit of sea salt and ground pepper and drizzle a wee bit of olive oil over the entire surface. Cook in a 350 degree oven on a cookie sheet or on a piece of tinfoil on the grill for 20 minutes.

salmon 004 Ok, did the top image of the Lemon~Blueberry Tea Cake make your mouth water?

Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of flour (it is white, wheat just doesn’t work) 1/2 cup of softened butter, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon (tsp.)of baking powder, 1/2  tsp. of salt, 1/2 cup of milk, 3 tablespoons (Tbs.) of lemon rind, 2 Tbs. of lemon juice, and a cup of blueberries

Take a moment to notice the organic milk and eggs in the photo below. I want to tell you why I pay $3.00 for eggs. Years ago my sweet daughter began developing at 8 years old. (Yes, 8!) At the time I worked in the medical field and my friend Cindy who is an AWESOME P.A. (Physician Assistant) and proponent for healthy eating said something very simple to me: “Laura, if you buy food (dairy, meat, eggs) in which the animal is given growth hormone to make it mature faster, your children will ingest the hormone and also develop faster.” Huge light bulb moment. From that day forward I bought hormone free dairy and eggs. My daughter stopped developing until a few years later when it was biologically the right time. 

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So let’s cook! First, beat the softened butter until creamy.

Gradually add in the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until just blended. 

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Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternating with the milk, beating at a low speed until blended.

blog 068 Add in the lemon juice, rind and blueberries using just a spoon so the berries won’t be crushed. Spoon batter into a greased 8 x 4 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For extra sweetness you can make an easy glaze of 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and lemon juice. Mix it to a  drizzly consistency and place it over the top of your cooled loaf of bread.

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So why an Earth Day filled with food?

Most of you know that my beloved foster mother passed away unexpectedly 3 weeks ago. What you don’t know was that it was from a massive heart attack.

My biological mother passed away from cancer when I was a very little girl of five.

If you are interested in learning more about healthful eating and why to do it, a great book is In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen.

A good documentary to watch is Food, Inc. If you have a Netflix account you can watch this riveting 1 hour and 34 minute film instantly.

I am really loving Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC. Anyone else?

entrevista_jamie_oliver “I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” ~ Julia Child

Bon Appetite!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Love bears all things…

I am a writer. I write when I am happy. I write when I am sad. I write as therapy to help me cope with knee buckling grief. This blog is my notepad. I have always said that I began this blog as a document of my life. To have anyone read it is just icing on the cake.
008_158150037 For those of you who read Decor To Adore regularly then you know that it is generally a happy and positive place. In the midst of my grief I have not been writing my full feelings because I didn’t want to be a downer. I have also been having conversations with God as to why I currently seem to be standing smack dab underneath a cloud of doom and gloom.
He has answered.
It is because I am strong. It is because I have the ability to see beauty in the midst of heart wrenching pain. It is because I can find the words to convey my grief and words to convey true LOVE.
He has answered that there is someone out in the big wide web world who may not be as strong and they need my help in coping.
So I am writing. As always, it is my readers choice to read what is written or to choose to move on. 
So today, I wanted to share the reason I was able to get out of bed.
img246 Twelve years ago, on April 11th, I held hands with a man and promised to love and cherish him forever. Only he can tell you if I have lived up to my promise. I can tell you that he has lived up to his.
This man recently drove 12 hours one way so that he could stand beside me as I watched my dear mother be buried. The next day he drove the 12 hours back home. This car trip also included two passengers ~an 8 year boy and an active dachshund. Truly amazing!
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7
(I have left the comments on but I hope that you continue to understand that at this time I am unable to respond. I am not quite strong enough and am currently able to only focus on my family and schoolwork.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Design School Dropout?

So the question of just how much can one person endure has come up. The overwhelming love and support shown by my friends has truly been carrying me through this past week.

Then I returned to school….

I encountered a situation that made me feel like the first image.

2677448330_04263be63b Let me start out by saying that two of my instructors ROCK! They are working with me and I am really amazed, grateful and inspired by their support and I am so encouraged to continue on and work hard for these wonderful individuals which ultimately is for myself. But…you knew it was coming…another instructor has me thinking this:

thumbnail I was welcomed back to this class with a huge stack of homework and projects and informed that I had one week to complete it all. To top it off when I raised my hand in class to express I needed additional understanding on a key point the teacher said something so incredibly mean that I had to leave class. This person crushed me to the point of dropping out. But then I thought about the tremendous amount of time and energy I have already invested in this class this semester. I also only have 4 weeks left. As I was driving home a song came on the radio.

It got me FIRED up. I feel like I am standing at the gates of Hell right now but I have decided that I won’t back down.

Because "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." ~William Congreve

Thank you Tom Petty.

Fighting on with your prayers,

A scorned design student

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My mother’s garden

Many thanks to all of you who have left comments, emails and sent cards. Your heartfelt thoughts and prayers truly have lifted our family up during this difficult time.
mom's garden 006 I thought I would share a few images of my mother’s beautiful garden.
mom's garden 024 My mother was “green” long before it was in style. When they tore down some old buildings in my hometown during the late 70’s and 80’s my mother loaded up the pickup truck with ancient brick destined for the landfill and refaced the front of my childhood home with a lovely bit of history. 
mom's garden 057 My mother had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to laugh.
mom's garden 022 My mother was repurposing everyday objects while most of today’s junk ladies were still in diapers.
mom's garden 027  My mother was a teacher and champion to the mentally challenged for over 30 years.
mom's garden 041 All of the earth’s creatures were treated with compassion and kindness by my mother.
mom's garden 040 My mother’s philosophy on life can be summed up in this photo: If you plant a few lovely flowers, then you won’t notice the crack in the sidewalk as much.
mom's garden 059 My mother single handedly raised 5 children on the smallest of incomes. Yet when my biological mother  grew to ill to care for me and eventually passed away, my mom, Nadine, somehow still found room in her heart and home for me.
mom's garden 044 For those of you who have read my blog over the past few years and have asked “Where does your creativity come from?” Now you know my secret.
“Everything I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” ~Abraham Lincoln
mom's garden 053 But of all the blessings my mother bestowed upon me, the most life changing is that of my relationship with Jesus. Because my mother would drag my butt out of bed every Sunday I am now comforted that through Him we will be apart for only awhile.  mom's garden 076 Until then, she is still here, in my heart.
mom's garden 010 Understandably, this unexpected loss has taken the wind out of my sails. I am not sure when I will return. I would like to leave you with one of my mother’s favorite poems by Helen Steiner Rice.

Life is like a garden
And friendship like a flower,
That blooms and grows in beauty
With the sunshine and the shower.
And lovely are the blossoms
That are tended with great care,
By those who work unselfishly
To make the place more fair.
And, like the garden blossoms,
Friendship's flower grows more sweet
When watched and tended carefully
By those we know and meet.
And, if the seed of friendship
Is planted deep and true
And watched with understanding,
Friendship's flower will bloom for you.

Be blessed my dear friends,