Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Road Trip!!!

When we first moved to Texas, a little over three years ago, our dream was to go to Tuscany to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary...well, "man plans, and God laughs"...I had to have an operation...and then, my husband lost his job...so, we have yet to get there, but we will......

Thank God my husband has done well consulting, and is about to start a new job...hitting the ground running, on Monday, so we are going to Dallas tomorrow (or maybe the day after)...a small day trip, and it ain't no Tuscany, but we have to make the best of our lives..should be interesting
I enjoy our day trips...This one was to Johnson City..and this is the home of Lyndon and Ladybird Johnson...Ladybird died a bit over a year ago, and had continued to live in the house, so they are just now getting around to getting it ready to open to the public..when we were there, we were only allowed in his office, which turned out to be quite tiny, and a big disapointment.
This swing held a certain fascination for me: There's a pool on the grounds, and the house is located right across from the Pedernalis River, which runs through the property...In fact, Johnson had a car that could convert from the road to water..and he enjoyed driving terrified foreign dignitaries into the river, while shouting, "hold on, it's out of control"...Gotta love Lyndon.
What struck me was I could almose envision Johnson and McNamara, sitting in this swing, discussing if they were willing to send any more young men to their deaths in Viet Nam...
I respect Lyndon Johnson for his Civil Rights Amendment, but the whole Viet Nam thing pretty much squashed him running for a second term. I worked in the amputee ward at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital during the war, and what I saw will forever be seared into my brain...

Lyndon and Lady Bird are planted side-by-side...of course, his is the largest headstone, and her's isn't there yet..Sheesh, it's been over a year, don't you think the kids could spring for one, rather than the bouquet of flowers after all this time?
For our 25th (we celebrated our 26th last March...still no Tuscany), we went to Ft. Worth, and I really enjoyed it...especially, the Kimbal Art Museum, and Bass Hall...This fall, there is a Beethoven weekend, and I am determined to go..but then, I was determined to go to Tuscany, as well.

My husband has been consulting from home for the past eleven months, and I run my business out of my home, so we have been spending a great deal of "quantity time" together, which has not been easy.....So, I am rather looking forward to him leaving every morning, and the house is mine, ALL MINE!!!!!
I have become a bit addicted to reading blogs of late...started out as research, and now I realize I could read twenty-four hours a day, and never get through what's out there, so one has to narrow one's focus...As in some of the design blogs are just too redundent, and I have been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt.....there are a few that rise to the top, and I will return to them.
Now, my goal is to get off my butt, and get some work done...I am designing and sewing a line of clothes, that I like to call, "what to wear until the weight comes off"...I had a dress form, which wasn't cheap, in it's box in the garage for over a year. It is adjustible, and I couldn't face measuring myself, and then, seeing it in reality...that said, I've lost eleven pounds (only 30 more to go!), and I feel much better, thankyou....It's not a sin to be fat, but it's not healthy, so I'm going for it...okay, I am going to go sew, no not Soco...that's next year.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Things I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Putting on my "war paint", as my Mama used to call it, this morning, I thought, "Girl, are you getting old"...and I am...well, getting older, and that's a good thing...think of the alternatives.

Taking a "design blog" hiatus, and just going with whatever comes to me for awhile..why?-why not? I did interior design for over twenty years, and I am moving through that...not sure where I am headed, but that's the exciting part!

I do know this...Life is not always just a bowl of cherries", or as my Czech friend, Vash, would say, "Life ain't no bucket of peaches" (no idea)...but, when one gets "older", one realizes how it all goes by in the blink of an eye, so one should damn well enjoy it...otherwise, one ends up on one's deathbed thinking, I wish I'd done this - or that - or gone there...
This is me - the little, stubby one, who can't reach the pedals - okay, I could reach them, but only on the "upturn"...just kept pushing, and pushing, but not moving forward.
I am tired of "pushing" and not moving forward...and what is "moving forward"? Well, there are things I still want to be when I grow up...novelist - fashion designer - jewelry designer - set designer (okay, I did that, but not on Broadway)....a world traveler - a wildlife photographer -
an accomplished chef - a great singer - I am sure I am leaving some things out here.

Being relatively new to the world of "blog", I have been reading-and-reading blogs..mostly design and fashion, some foodie, a few spiritual...and I see where some have literally thousands of followers, and are "connected" with the "successful ones"...
I often feel discouraged, especially, trying to do design blogs, when I think I've moved on...and I reiterate, not sure where I'm moving to....but, I have the opportunity to explore these options, and I am grateful every day for that.

So, my friends...think about what you want to be when you grow up...whether you are just starting out, or have been around for a very long time...make a wish, blow out the candles, and go for it....

When my husband was in graduate school in Boston for a thousand years, and I was slogging through jobs I hated in order to keep us going...he wrote the most wonderful preface and acknowledgement in his thesis: "For my wife, Jessica, who plowed the fields, while I was out chasing butterflies..."
It's my turn to chase butterflies...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Taking a few days off...my honey and I.....then, I am going to be teaching this puppy (that's me in disguise) a few new tricks....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pillows...Endless Possibilities

I think that one of the most important things I ever did was teach myself to sew. Sure, there was "Home Economics 1", where we were taught the sewing basics...even made myself a beautiful, red woolen suit...However, in the beginning of my interior design career, I often worked with workrooms, especially, on window treatments, but as time passed, I found myself wanting to dive in, and do it myself...designing as I went along..tweaking, eliminating, adding features.
I love fabric...I have a treasure trove of fabrics, as when I see a bargain, even if I don't have a use for it at the time, I buy it, and I buy it all....nothing is more frustrating than not having enough fabric for a project that I've already begun. That said, I also learned the fine art of combining fabrics (at first, out of desperation, later - it was just fun).
I spotted this wonderful, fern fabric, along with the stripe, in an unfinished furniture shop, that had tried selling fabrics, as well, but decided to discontinue them. I had a wonderful day that day. I spent a great deal of money, but got some of the most beautiful fabrics at incredible prices.
When we moved to Texas, I made this fabric into a duvet cover....I love it...it doesn't matter how rumpled it gets, it still is lovely. Okay, you are thinking, "the title of the blog is "Pillows".....???"
I'm getting to them.

The very first Parade Home I visited in Austin had this wonderful pillow that caught my eye...I looked at the price: $350.00. It does have exquisite trim, and tapestry, and I am sure it was sold.
I was recently commissioned to do some pillows, along with window treatments for a client. When I went to the wonderful fabric store, I found the bird fabric...in two colorways. We went with the blue, and added beaded trim.

Self-covered buttons are a great way to make the pillows "upholstered"...in fact, my client has a Candice Olsen tufted headboard, so we echoed it with the tufted pillow.l This pillow is one of my favorites...it's in my bedroom, and I love it. I did a series of valences for a client, and I fell in love with the fabric. I always return all left over fabric to my clients...but, I also find myself buying some for myself...
This fabric was $75.00 a yard, my price...so, I only bought a couple of extra yards....I did pair it with the Waverly floral fabric...at $15.00 a yard. I love combining florals with plaids.

My guest bedroom is often occupied by my husband....what can I say...we snore, so one of us bails...he didn't want anything to "foofy", so I made a series of the bird pillows, and he loves them.
At first, he only wanted pillows that were "plain and simple", which is fine, but even he liked the fact that I added the trimmed out one, to punch it up a bit. Pillows and paint are the two least expensive ways to change the decor in your home...or to add "Spice".
I don't use pillow forms...I use fiberfill (unless a client insists on it)..I hate zippers in pillows...
I go to the Hobby Lobby website, and print out their 40% off coupon, and go to their sewing section. Up against the wall, where there are bags of fiberfill, often at $4.00 for just a bit, up high, there is a big, 5 pound box, that says Airtex Premium Quality fiberfill. It sells for $20.00, but with my 40% coupon, I get it for $12.00....Believe me, a five-pound box of fiberfill goes a very long way.
This pillow was one I made from a fabric sample. I used to work at Louis Shanks (very high-end furniture store in Austin - $20,000.00 sofas, etc., but the 106,000 sq. ft. showroom was just too much for me)...so...when fabrics are discontinued, I get a call from the librarian, and I go pick out what I want..she tosses the rest...

I found these pillows (just the forms) still in their packaging at the Goodwill for $3.00 each...I stuffed them, and they are a wonderful addition to the day bed in my husband's office....Never turn your nose up at the Goodwill...you would be surprised what one finds there!I made these European shams quite some time ago, planning to use them in my bedroom, but changed my mind...they seemed a bit too "quiet" for me......................
I found this broach, and decided to play dress up with the pillow....I like to "walk on the wild side" every now and again....why not?
Now, I need to find a friend for him../her...love the red eyes!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Often, prospective clients ask me, "what's your style?" My answer is that my goal is to find their style, and interpret it for them. Of course, in my own home, my "style" is completely mine..and in Parade Homes, (unless they have been sold before building) I could usually have Carte Blanche, as my builder's knew my work, and as long as I stayed within budget, I could express my style.
Many of you, who watched Seinfeld may remember "The Soup Nazi"....There are designers out there whom I refer to as, "Design Nazis"...as in "You Must", "You Will", and force their style upon people, who are too intimidated to stand their ground, or too confused by what they think they are getting, and then, disappointed in the end. I have actually had several clients, who came to me after spending a great deal of money, and told me they just hated their homes once the designer got through with them.
I try to give clients all their dreams come true..not necessarily my dreams, as above, with two, countem', two giant-screened televisions (there were a total of eight and a home theatre by the time we got through. They were two gentlemen, who were huge sports enthusiasts, and also a bit into "wretched excess". I do try to keep some clients from what I call, "running with scissors", as in "you may regret that decision"....If they insist, they get it, but I do all I can to offer alternatives.
These clients had a wonderful sense of style; prefering open spaces, interesting vistas, a touch of tradition, along with something a bit exotic, as in the florals.

This client is Chilean, and loves intense, saturated colors, as reflected inthe sink she brought back from Mexico. We glazed the powder room walls with a burnt umber over salmon...she loves it.
These clients live in Europe eight months out of the year (he's a hockey player), and she was greatly influenced by the architecture and the large, French-influenced fireplaces. Keep in mind this was Wisconsin, so with the long winters, a fireplace is a necessity. She loves coffered ceilings, as do I. Eventually, he got his flat-screen tv, instead of the sailboat.
I have had clients, who when traveling, will call me to say they've found a piece of art they love, and should they get it? I tell them that, if they love it, by all means get it, and why do they need my permission? We always make it work........

Finally, I designed this study for a mother of three children, all under the age of five...she needed a place that she could retreat to that was serene, a bit feminine, but not overly so, where she could regroup and possibly sneak a nap in on the cushy sofa...
We all have our own styles, and we can't push them off onto other's. I very much dislike it, when a client says, "well, I want to see what my mother/friend/boyfriend/whatever" thinks...It's your home, your haven, and your decision...I am just there to make the dreams come true.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Two in One Day!!!

It would seem I am in transition...from Interior Designer (for over twenty years), who loves design, everything visual...so much wonderful "eye candy" out there. I just asked my husband if he thought that "Eye Candy" would be a good name for my new Etsy shop, and he laughed(well, he sort of snorted), and said, "Eye Candy" usually has a sexual connotation to it...I told him, that to me, it was a nice window treatment, or a beautiful fabric...to each his own.

I suppose what I am saying is I am definately "branching out"...spent so many years in interior design, and I will never turn my back on it completely, but at my age - you will have to torture me to get it out of me, I am thinking about "options"...When one is a certain age, one thinks there are endless years ahead...I can see the horizon from where I stand, and I need to think about what my desires are for my future...Design? Art? Photograpy? Writing? I cannot imagine the people, who say, "I dont' knw what I want to be when I grow up"...I want to be it all.

I went back to a few days ago, and realized I was sort of posting the same old stuff as the other day....I have an excuse...I got up at 4 am, and hadn't had my coffee yet....Went out and walked three miles...it was still cool enough to do that. The roosters were crowing, the peacocks were making their wild baby screams (yes, there are wild peacocks, and noone knows from where they sprang)...the dogs came out and barked at me...a roadrunner went by me...I went "beep beep", but it totally ignored me. I said hello to several, very familiar deer, who when they saw me, hightailed it to my house to be fed.

I know that for awhile, I will be a Christmas Tree Lady...Then, I will be an Etsy Shop Owner, and I hope to publish a children's book soon...that's top secret, so don't tell anyone...
Okay, the chicken on the bbq is nearly done...the baker's are ready to come out, and the wine is waiting to be opened.
Life goes on.

What am I Doing Here????

Since it's against the law to strangle cats, I am up and about by 4am...My darling Raisenette Funicello Buttafuco (he head butts everything, including me) was screaming for me to get up and feed him, but I refuse to reinforce his behaviour by doing so. So, he goes into the powder room, and pees on my hand-painted floorcloth. So, I get out of my wonderful, Country French pine bed, (it is still dark out), get the 409, and scrub my floor and my floorcloth. The 409 gives me an asthma attack, so use my inhaler, and am wide awake....What does one do at 4 am, when the rest of the world is asleep....one blogs. Who would think this beautiful cat (Raisen is in front, Gussie behind) could be such a pain....
Gussie never gives us a problem...but he is our problem child.

This is Shadow...in the shadows..She shows up everyday, and follows me about...then, she comes to my back door, and looks wistful, until I cut up an apple (don't tell my husband, as he says they are too expensive to feed to the deer)..and take it out to her.
I just finished drawing her, and am transferring it onto a giant canvas - 5ftx40", and am going to paint her. I have a one-woman show coming in September, and had better add to my "body of work"...

This is "Zoomy" and her mama....we now have three other fawns, who along with their herd, are camping in our back yard...It hasn't rained for a month, it's triple digit temps, and I haul about 8 gallons of water out a day for them, along with corn...everything is dried up..The grass is toast, and the soil is now dust....Gotta love Texas. What does this have to do with Interior Design...not a thing...I am reinventing these days....Being a Gemini, I have an excuse....
It's now 5:18 am, and I've made coffee, and the British Open will be televised at 6 am...life is good...
I know I will be taking a nap by noon.....oh well...such is life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


It's mid-July, and hotternthehingesofhell in Texas..and here I am, posting photos of my home last Christmas...Why, you ask? (actually, I am not sure anyone is even reading this, but I am going to assume someone will, maybe)...Because I am gearing up to decorate over 100 trees for Macy's - Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Temple.....I won't start until September, but need a few days off to assemble a crew. I will be surpervising, but also, decorating....

Before I was an Interior Designer, I was in Visual Merchandising...for suchs stores as Bloomindale's, in Boston, Filene's on Cape Cod, and various other Federated Department Stores thoughout the midwest. I loved it, but moved on.....

My interior design business is "Jessica Schatz, Interiors, Etc."....this is just another Etc...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Deer, Scorpions, and My Bathroom

What do these three things have in common, you ask; well, you didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway...They are all very "Texan", at least they are to me.
This morning, just as dawn was breaking, Miss Gussie jumped up on my bed, and I noticed she was staring intently over the edge at the floor below....then, I noticed she seemed to be "tracking"...I turned on the light, peered over the edge, and there it was...a nasty scorpion...Now, I have been known to catch and release harmless insects - but scorpions, not so much..in fact, I pound them over-and-over, just to make sure they are dead. We spray for them, but they still keep coming....hate them.. Gussie finds them, but she makes sure she doesn't get too close..smart girl. Since I was wide awake and alert after the scorpion attack, I began the day the way I always do - put water out for the deer, feed them a bit of corn (I know, I am not supposed to, as they say it will stop them from foraging, but everything has dried up...besides, a handful of corn a day isn't going to change much for them...it's their treat).., put water and food out for the birds, and water our plants. We haven't had rain for weeks, and triple-digit temperatures are brutal on the flora and fauna...which brings me to the photo below. Two, new fawns...one of which was trailing "Mama", across our property. Click on the photo to enlarge it, and see how sweet they are!
When I first saw our house, it wasn't finished....But, since I specialize in new construction, I could tell that it was well-built, and that, for a spec house, it had "custom home" touches...as in beautiful doors (not the horrible hollow-core doors we had at our last "spec house" in Wisconsin), lovely oiled-bronze fixtures in throughout the house, arches, granite counters...beautiful light fixtures...I was sold. Okay, I'm not wild about the glass block in the bathroom, but one can't have everything. Also, the tub and the vanity tops are "cultured marble", but that can be changed out with time and money.

The bathtub has been used only once..as we prefer showers. Also, the placement of the jets just doesn't make sense. None at the back or at the feet, but just at the sides...not good...I find that I have to vacuum the tub, as it does collect dust...
I found the cross towel/robe hooks at good old "Hobby Lobby"...I much prefer them to towel bars, as there is one across from them, on the other side of the tub, and there are never enough places to hang damp towels. We never even touch the ones on the other side..just for looks...

I don't mind the glass block on the shower, as it lets in more light, but I wish it were a bit larger. I actually don't use the shower all that often, as I have taken over the guest bath as my domain. Having separate bathrooms has saved many a marriage.

Eventually, I want to change out the "cultured marble" vanity top...I would like soapstone or granite...

I do love the lighting over the tub....I also like to hang chandeliers over a tub, but code dictates it to be 10 feet over the water Texan's love stained concrete floors...as do I...other than an occasional divit here and there, they are great for hot climates..
We also have a ceiling fan in the master bath, and in every other room, other than the kitchen and dining room.. Even with air conditioning, the fans are on most of the time in this weather. Another wonderful touch is the way the mirror is "framed out"...I have every intention of one day, doing a faux finish on it, as we are both ready to start changing out the "builder's beige". My builder has become a friend, and he asked me what he should have done differently, and I didn't have many things to critisize, other than placing a window facing the bathroom mirror...it creates a backlight, and it's difficult to see. I just open my closet door, and dry my hair that way...Oh yes, two, large cedar-lined walkin his-and-hers closets flank the tub.....
I have found there to be three, main styles of decor and architecture in Texas; Tuscan, Texan (such as my house), and ultra-contemporary....I love all three, but am drawn to the Texas-style..I didn't move to Texas to live the way I lived in Wisconsin, so I have to take the Scorpions along with the good stuff.