Laurel Street Blog

Archive for March 2009

Dear PB: How has this thing been selling for you?

Really a steal at $399.00. HAving installed my share of light fixtures lately, any person interesting in buying this lighting object should: A) Have their head examined - not only does one have to affix this hideous creation to the ceiling, they must then affix its ten tentacles as well) or B) Demand that installation in included in the price.

Behold. The Edison Chandelier. PLEASE do not exceed specified wattage.

Really a steal at $399.00. Having installed my share of light fixtures lately, any person interesting in buying this lighting object should: A) Have their head examined – not only does one have to wire this hideous creation to the ceiling, they must then affix its ten tentacles as well  or B) Demand that installation be included in the price.

I actually have nightmares about this thing. Here it is ‘in situ:’

These things will surely sell like hotcakes. Hotcakes, I tell you.

These things will surely sell like hotcakes. Hotcakes, I tell you.

Wisely, the imaginary people that live in this Pottery Barn home have decided to install it on their back porch. I can think of no more appropriate place.

Okay. That’s out of my system, now. I can say that like a few Pottery Barn touches around the house (but not too much of it!) and I like them more when I find them on sale. (I truly love a sale.) I can only think of one thing ever that I purchased at PB for full price… those little crown molding shelves they make? You know? They never go on sale. Shoot.

Anyway, there is a PB on the first floor of my office tower (which is connected to the Canal Place  mall) so I get to cruise through there once a week or so. I rarely buy anything but it’s a fun break. But yesterday, I found what I consider to be a real steal. All the pillow covers were 30% off already marked down prices, so I found these cute little numbers at $13.99 a piece. I had no guilt whatsoever – I pounced.

Zebra. Wheee!

Zebra on the cheap! Wheee!


As you can see here Ella and Sister have graciously volunteered to model the effectiveness of my new pillows. Okay, you dogs get off of there. Now!

This Morning - On The Way Out The Door

Taken this morning, rushing on the way out the front door. 'Scuze my gym bag in the photo!

So this was my Sunday. Saturday was all mowing, and chopping, and bagging, and digging, and hauling. Sunday was much more fun: all shopping, and planning, and planting.

I made the rounds of my favorite garden centers around New Orleans (I was just going to buy a lemon and satsuma tree for the back yard – those have been on my list for a while). But then I found this Iceberg Climbing Rose waaaay in the back of the Perino’s (like they were hiding it from me amidst the Ajuga).

I knew I had a big empty pot by the front door which formerly contained a show-stopping magenta Bougainvillea – but I accidentally killed it when I tried to move the pot. The roots had grown out of the pot drainage hole and deep into my brick sidewalk. Bougainvillea (I have since learned!) is very senstitive to root damage. I snapped that tap root moving the pot and it completely went to pieces on me.

So Iceberg Rose goes on my garden cart… what else, what else? Needs something to grow on – hey look at these cute trellises! Trellis goes on the cart. And hey – look at these topiaries! These would look great in front of the door on the porch.

By this point, my cart is now impossible to see over. People are scurrying out of my way when they see me rolling their way.

Only one of the garden rooms at The Garden Gates

Only one of the garden rooms at The Garden Gates - This shot is from several years back. So much has changed since this photo was taken.

That was enough for me to have to explain to Richard for one store – so I proceeded down to my other favorite garden center in ‘Old Metairie’ called The Garden Gates. There are wonderful gifts to be found here and it is one of the most beautifully designed garden centers I have ever seen. I would pay money just to get in the door to look around – the design of the whole retail experience feels like an exclusive private garden.

I usually pick out my own stuff but one of the outgoing and friendly staff member called me out for looking ‘like a man on a mission’ and could he help me? He suggested mixing up some of the Lamb’s Ear I had been wanting for beneath the rose with some new varieties I hadn’t seen and even pointed up a Dwarf Cleome that would go nicely in another pot.

So I think it all came out… what do you say?

P.S. I know that this makes two rose posts in a month. I know I’m a guy. You must be thinking “Unless he thinks he’s P. Allen Smith or somebody, no man should be posting this much about roses.” I can’t help it – I’m a victim here! I don’t find them, they find me.

Ok - I'm a sucker for these

Ok - I'm a sucker for these. See the soft Lamb's Ear Below?

Dwarf Cleome. It better be dwarf!

Dwarf Cleome. It better stay dwarf! I'm suspicious.

Mark Bittman's Stuffed Pork Loin With Figs

Mark Bittman's Stuffed Pork Loin With Figs

This Stuffed Pork Loin With Figs recipe from last Wednesday’s New York Times is so fast, easy and delicious (that’s Mark Bittman’s MO, I know). Click here for the recipe.

Calimyrna Figs - I have no idea how to actually pronounce this

Calimyrna Figs - I have no idea how to actually pronounce this

The recipe called for a Pork LOIN about 2-3 lbs as well as dried figs. Short of running out to the (difficult to park) Whole Foods Uptown, I substituted a (nearly) 2 lbs Pork Tenderloin and a bag of Sun Maid ‘Calimyrna Figs’ that were preserved in a fresh seal type bag at my standard neighborhood grocery store.

I did soak the figs (even though they were fresh and not dried) to make the sweet basting liquid, I just didn’t soak them for long. Only until they were just warmed through.

I knew since I was using the smaller Pork Tenderloin, I would have to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the meat (not the figs!) and pull it out of the oven earlier than the recipe called for. However, after a 5 1/2 hour traumatic day at the Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles getting my drivers license renewed, I napped off for thirty minutes and didn’t do my 15 minute check that I had planned. So, it probably could’ve come out a little sooner, but no bother, it was still delicious.

Richard was supposed to make the wine reduction sauce from the pan drippings, but he ran off for a minute to check email and it reduced too much… Again, no bother, it was great without it!

Buttery parsley potatoes and fresh lima beans rounded out the meal, along with a French Pinot Noir. This one is a keeper.

P.S. I’ll take a picture next time! Mine was a much prettier presentation, the photo on doesn’t do it justice at all.

Red Beans and Ricely Yours,


Whoa - How - Who - When did this happen?!?

Whoa!!! How - Who - When did this happen?!?

Nathan, really. (I imagine this in my mom's voice)

"Nathan. REALLY."

Ok. Much better. Keep an eye on that would ya?

Ok, better. Keep an eye on that would ya?

And keep an eye on this!

And keep an eye on this!

And don't forget this collection of piles? Got it?


Living with Lindsay is my de-cluttering inspiration today. I just wish my kitchen looked one ounce as fabulous as hers!


UPDATE: Everybody seems to be on the same page today…

Ballard Designer and Blogger James Swan posts today Bail-out Decorating Part III –  The Big Clean:

A good quote from Swan, Unless it is a substantial furniture piece, an important sculpture, or an aging family member it does not belong on the floor of our home.

One of my best friends in grad school (we’re still good friends) was actually a professor. He lived in a fantastic historic home on the main street of my little college town with a wide front porch, where all my friends would gather for what we thought were smart conversations (increasingly less smart as the wine flowed). He traveled a lot during breaks, so I often house sat for him taking care of the plants and the pets.

Bill came from Virginia and I always admired his apartment’s look. He inherited a few great antiques from his mom back home, who was an artist and illustrator… and his apartment always a wonderful ‘collected’ feel to it. Historic, but not too fussy.

Anyway, I’ve been saving the December 2006 edition of Southern Accents magazine for quite a while now… and I come back to one article over and over again. Atlanta interior designer Jackye Lanham’s second home in a Charleston townhouse. At first, I just admired the drapes:

Boy, I love this room.

Boy, I love this room.

And the slipcover. And the chair. And the secretary.

But back to drapes. I’m blessed (or plagued) by 14 foot ceilings and 12 foot windows along the front of my house. There is nothing ready-made that will fit them, not even sheers.

I admire these drapes for their simplicity and  very approachable fabric.  Jackye uses a ‘ticking’ fabric here–a fairly commonplace commodity–and has elevated this simple material with a elegant treatment. The shirred valence and double cording along the edge (properly cut on the bias)… throw in a tassel and hey! That looks great! The fabric is repeated for the sofa slipcover as well – it all looks like understated, easy elegance to me.

Another thing I learned from Bill’s place was that you need to have a few ‘specimen’ chairs in your living area. He had a great Chippendale piece that elevated his contemporary sofa and coffee table. I especially admire this black and gilt specimen Jackye has chosen here. Love it, in fact. The scale is perfect for this small sitting room.

There is much more to love in this designer’s house, which was tastefully attired for the Christmas holidays at the time of the photo shoot. I love the whimsy of this little bird lamp:

Check out the wreath on this chick. Adorable.

Check out the wreath on this chick. Adorable.

And I know the trend is for sprawling white on white  kitchens these days with acres of Calcutta marble but Jackye (May I call you Jackye?) has made a tidy and tasty little kitchen in this home. I adore the color – sometime dark really works – and absolutely covet those glass demi-johns and her ironstone collection displayed on that wonderful open shelving:

I just want to pinch it's cheeks.

I just want to pinch it's cheeks.

I could go on and on about this little house. There’s an etherial light-filled bedroom and wonderful silvery white dressing room… but maybe I’ll save those for another post. In the meantime, I’m still tracking down that ticking fabric and thinking about my front windows.

P.S. I need photo credits (sorry Southern Accents!) I’ll give ‘er the old update when I get home.

I borrowed a friend’s Kindle 1.0 a few months back for a weekend. I thought it was a little flitchety – a few industrial design problems that were well documented by the reviewers on However, I loved that I could just download sample chapters of books, anything that tickled my fancy. If one took hold of my imagination, I could buy it instantly.

I read widely – across many different subjects. And I love books – as a former member of P.O.E.M. (Professional Organization of English Majors). And I re-read books – I revisit Brontë’s novels every few years and I consider Moby Dick a real page turner (yes, I am that geek).

But mostly, I read a LOT of lighter fare. I love mysteries and historical novels – and I’ve got two large boxes of paperbacks in the attic that would never make it to my bookshelves (ahem – out and out low brow stuff).

So enter Kindle 2.0 – something I’ve waited patiently for (it’s very unusual for me to wait patiently for anything). Since we’ve been saving up for the new stove, I really haven’t splurged on anything personal in a while – even most of my house projects are pretty modest.

So when I said to Richard, “I really want to get a Kindle.” I expected eye-rolling.

But he said, “Well, duh! Of course you do. Get it!”

Due to the copious rain we had this weekend, only about 1/4 of my outside projects I planned got accomplished. So I had a lot of time to read on my front porch, listening to the rain and really appreciate what a fine device  Amazon has made.

The Kindle just completely disappears when you use it – you don’t even think “I’m reading an electronic book.” You just read.

Unboxing pics – please excuse the messy desk at my office:

Yay! Kindle is here!

Yay! Kindle is here!

Eco-Friendly, clever packaging.

Eco-Friendly, clever packaging.

It is really light - lighter than a paperback.

It is really light - lighter than a paperback.

A chapter from "Predictable Irrationality" on procrastination. I'll read that one later.

A chapter from "Predictable Irrationality" on procrastination. I'll read that one later.

I simply could not resist a Gypsy reference in the title, sorry!

Now on with the show. Thanks to a fortunately mild winter in New Orleans, these antique ‘Safrano’ roses have been in light bloom throughout the winter, but they’ve taken off now!

So today, for Julia at HookedOnHouses, I’m hooked on antique roses. Antique specimens are super tough and hardly prone to any disease which makes caring for them almost non-existent. Modern tea roses require lots of babying – and that’s not my style at all. We just enjoy them without the work. I’m even hesitant to pull off a few blooms to take inside because I enjoy them on the shrubs so much.

Safrano Rose Blooms

Safrano Rose Blooms - Click for the close up - It's worth it!

I'm ready, Mr. DeMille

Great color...


Duchess de Brabant Rose - just getting started

By the way, the definitive source for these old, hardy varieties is The We ordered four specimens last year and they sent us a pink knock-out rose just as a bonus. Surprise! Their roses are also very inexpensive, beautifully packed and shipped.

Here’s what else is on my agenda this weekend – after working inside all winter, I’m looking forward to a massive yard clean-up and some early annual planting (I’ve got a soft spot for Impatiens – the first thing I ever grew). I’m going to widen this bed around the fountain so I can do a little more this year:

Back Yard Flower Bed

Back Yard Flower Bed - The grass is looking muuuch better this year.

On my weekend to-do list... geraniums for the front porch (while it's still cool)

On my weekend to-do list... geraniums for the front porch (while it's still cool)

I'm a sucker for these! Always white - I'm sooo predictable.

I'm a sucker for these! Always white - I'm sooo predictable.

Louis is loving the warm weather and cannot wait to tromp around on my new flowerbed.

Louis is loving the warm weather and cannot wait to tromp around on my new flowerbed.

Friday Morning Update: I’d like to say a special thank you to my new blogging friend Jennifer from the Newlywed Diaries who was so generous to me in her post today!  I love Jenn’s blog, it is a ‘dutiful daily read’ for me. Jennifer has wonderful taste and style – and so many great ideas – why not stop by for a visit today?

Laurel Street Blog

Nate and Louis

Well, hey there. I'm Nathan and this is the Laurel Street Blog. It's a place for talking about design, decor and DIY (with small amounts of snarkery snuck in). I'm a pretty restless guy who loves house projects and lives in a 150+ year old cottage on Laurel Street in New Orleans. Since the house always has something going on with it (or falling off of it) I'm subsequently blessed with a never-ending supply of Web content to share. Oh - and you can drop me a line anytime Enjoy!

Can I get a tweet up in here? Follow along @LaurelStreet

The Laurel Street Cottage

March 2009