Do I know you?

When I woke up this morning, I almost thought I was in another city. What a relief to have a cool breeze in mid-July! And speaking of a cool breeze,I was at dinner last night to catch up with my “cousin”—in town from San Francisco along with other assorted friends and family—and I felt like I was under the actual Polar Vortex because that AC must have been set on the Ice Age setting. Maybe they set it so low to keep the margaritas from melting? It didn’t work on mine. But whatever the reason, you have to eat fast before the cheese gets hard. There’s nothing worse than cold Tex-Mex.

It was fun catching up—even though I was freezing, and I had a hard time hearing. Is it me, or did that sentence just totally sound like something my grandma would say? I think more restaurants should think about acoustics when they are designing the spaces. A table of eight should be able to hear one another. To achieve this, you need soft surfaces to help absorb sound, but I guess when you add tequila to a situation, it’s just going to automatically get louder no matter the surface.

 

As long as we are talking about food, what about that dust up with John Tesar and food critic Leslie Brenner? I don’t know either personally, although I did meet Tesar at Spoon, and I have eaten at Knife. In fact, I think it was the first week it was open. We took our chances at the bar, and it was fun. We even met the people who were seated next to us. They were asking us what some of the menu options meant. They weren’t what my aunt used to call, “city people.” But I was happy to help explain where I could.

Anyway, I thought my meal was good. But if I say I did not enjoy my dessert, will I be banned from the restaurant? If one can be banned for not liking the dessert portion of a meal, then I will be banned from most restaurants worldwide. And that is not a good thing because we eat out a lot.

On the topic of meeting and knowing people, I am confused on the etiquette of how to greet people you have met (or think you have met) as opposed to greeting people you know and don’t know. My brain tells me you should just be pleasant in any of these situations and greet people the same. Let’s take the people who sat next to us at Knife. Did I want to be interrupted mid-bite to explain to someone I didn’t know what I was eating? Probably not, but I wasn’t going to be rude. They were nice people and just enjoying a night out in the big city. I didn’t want to pull a Lea Michelle and act all Streisand on them just because I was interrupted.

Anyway, I experienced a meet-and-greet conundrum at a recent cocktail party. I was talking to someone I know, and then a person who I had been introduced to came walking up with a big smile and open arms. I thought it rather strange to be greeted so enthusiastically by someone I had only met briefly several years ago, but this is Texas and people are friendly. I thought I better go in equally as enthusiastic.

But guess what? That greeting was for the person I was talking to—not me. Awkward!

But instead of rolling with it and being polite, the greeter’s smile quickly became a frown. Even worse, I sensed some definite disdain as they said, “Do I know you?” I began to feel like the new kid in junior high looking for a place to sit in the cafeteria. I replied, “Well, yes we have met before, plus we have been around at many of the same events.” And to put this in perspective for you, there were maybe 20 people at this cocktail party, so obviously we all know a lot of the same folks.

But instead of saying,” I am sorry I don’t remember your name. It is nice to meet you,” the person chose to spin around and walk off. I was just glad we had additional plans and I didn’t have to spend any more time there.

So what twisting road is Jimbo taking us down instead of talking about decorating? Well I guess what I am trying to say is best left to the words of the late Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So next time you are in an awkward or unfamiliar social situation and you are not sure whether or not to rely on that manners book from 1862, here is a helpful hint: just try being nice. It won’t hurt. (Not for long anyway.) And remember, one day someone could and probably will be asking if they know you for whatever reason, and wouldn’t it be nice if the reply was, “I don’t know him very well, but I did meet him once at a party, and he was really nice.”

Happy Friday!

I hope you are having fun. Now, who are you?

It’s time to get real up in here and give you the lowdown on what has been going on since we last spoke. First, we had my birthday. Yay! Another year older and wiser, but hopefully, I’m still just as fun. I think the fun part might be doubtful but certainly hopeful. I kept it low key with dinner at Kitchen LTO with just Max since we had just finished hosting the annual 4th of July party. More on that in a minute.

I’m going to give my birthday dinner a solid “OK” because it didn’t exactly live up to all the hype. I suggested maybe they should go smoke some of the good stuff and then check the flavor of the risotto. Now dinner last night at another restaurant, Cane Rosso, was an “A-OK” experience, and not because of the food. It was good, but the guy who prepares the pizzas was something else. Max was there, so he can agree. Pretty stunning. So I am going to call this week’s post, “I may have left my heart in San Francisco, but my eyes are definitely on Italy.”

 

New bar stools from Dallas based manufacturer – R. Jones

In design news, I was pleased to announce that the new collection of barstools from R. Jones has arrived. The new collection was designed by Charlie Kane, who makes sure the barstools are equally as attractive from the front as they are in the back, which is how most of us view them anyway. The collection consists of seven designs, which are priced the same for either counter or bar height. I like when things are easy. We also installed some beyond beautiful wall covering from Arena Design. Seeing his designs in a large installation—we are talking 100 yards of hand-printed and colored shagreen goodness—you can really see the artistry behind Rusty’s work. I paired the cool greenness of the wall covering with some new George Smith pieces upholstered in a deep emerald green velvet and some deep purple chairs in a linen by Casamance. It turned out even better than expected, if I do say so myself.

In pop culture news, Jenny McCarthy says she wants her face to move when she is 60. Fascinating news, people, and it’s obviously a slow news week for celebrities behaving badly. Who am I kidding? They are always behaving badly. But 60 is probably a good age for her to think about since that should be about the time all the fillers and Botox she has now will wear off. I’m not being hateful, I promise. I think people should take care of their skin. In fact, I am going in for a silk peel and some refreshers from Dr. Ho this weekend because I did see my face move, and it was in a downward direction. This is not acceptable to me.

Now on to the recap of the annual and now infamous 4th of July party. What we thought was going to be a party of just a few, based on all the last minute cancellations for lake, beach, and trips overseas that caused Max to shake his foot at around 100 rpm, turned out to be a party of many. It was a “whose who” event, as in I was asking, “Who is that? And whose husband do you belong to?” I was just glad everyone was having fun, because that is what the party is about. It’s a chance to see friends you haven’t seen in a while, enjoy some great food (thanks Terry Lynn Crenshaw and crew), and have a drink or two. Oh yeah, and enjoyment of the fireworks is encouraged, but I have yet to get to see them.

There was no real drama, except for the girl passed out in the second-floor bathroom. I mistakenly thought she was the wife of another guest because all I could see from the third-floor landing was the back of a head in the doorway. I called for backup, which also included the husband. It was only after we turned her over that we discovered this was not his wife. Oops! I am going to file that one away with the time I asked a client, “When are you due? It must be a girl because you are carrying her so high.”  She was not pregnant, not amused, and I have never seen her again. Honest mistakes.

So that about wraps up want has been going on in Jimbo land. Don’t forget tonight is Ricardo Paniagua’s retrospective at the Latino Cultural Center. It is a great way to beat the heat and soak up some local culture from a locally based artist. We have several large pieces from Ricardo and love them. Plus, if you go, he will stop messaging me on Facebook. Again, I’m kidding. (I think.) Happy Friday!

Are you superstitious because it’s Friday the 13th?

Are you superstitious because it’s Friday the 13th? I would refer to myself as more cautious than superstitious, a trait I wish I had discovered prior to my first marriage. But just to be safe, I definitely will not be crossing any black cats or stepping on any sidewalk cracks today.

Interiors by Mally Skok

My day started early—like 3:35 a.m. early—which would be about the time that Max decided to begin snoring like he was working on the soundtrack forFast and Loud. I grabbed some earplugs, but I still couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to go to the guest room. I turned the AC down and the ceiling fan on and crawled into that bed only to discover that we have the loudest AC and ceiling fan ever. The AC sounded like it was shooting out static electricity while rattling the register to some beat with no rhythm (kind of like that awful World Cup song) combined with the “tick tick” of the ceiling fan. I began to feel like I was on the set of Apocalypse Now. Continue reading

Welcome back summer

“Welcome back, summer,” he said as though greeting an ex.

At least my roof deck is, for the most part, complete. It still needs to be re-stained, but at least I can walk on it. More importantly, I can nap on it. When it was done, I was so excited that I did a tap dance routine I learned when I was 6. It was originally choreographed to “In Your Easter Bonnet,” but it also adapts quite well to “Best Friend” by Foster the People. I am happy to teach this routine at any time, but instruction comes with a warning: Don’t ever do it in front of someone you think you may want to make out with at any point in time. You can’t un-see some things.

On the interior design front, we have received word from several designers in Houston that they are so busy they can’t even think of taking on new clients until the end of 2015—or even mid-2016! This has prompted some of those in need of interior design services to cough up substantial retainers just to be on a waiting list. That sounds like a nice problem to have.

In Dallas design news, we’re seeing lots of clients working on second and third homes. Refined rustic may be a good description for what’s happening. There are beautiful, more natural finishes in feel and texture combined with clean lines and a few touches of traditional to soften things up. And comfort is key for all of these clients. It is no longer enough for a piece to look beautiful. If it isn’t comfortable, forget it.

I have just shipped a couple of pieces for a client who has six homes. Yes, I typed six. No, I wouldn’t dream of divulging the client’s name. When you are at that level, privacy is super important. And so is return business. To think I have a hard time just getting Max to select a single wallpaper for a half bath in one house. Fortunately, this client makes decisions much faster. With that many homes, you have to. This particular client will tell me what they want exactly once. After that, they don’t want to hear another thing until it’s ready. If something comes up in the process, and it always does, I use my best judgment. Trust, in this case, is key. And after working together for 15 years, I should know what they like.

Speaking of liking things, I spoke with Rusty Arena of Arena Design the other day. Rusty sure is a nice person—not to mention, amazingly talented. Here is an image of Rusty and his trusty companion, Rufus, at the factory. Did you know that when I was born, my sister wanted to name me Rufus? It’s better than Peaches Ann, the name she liked for a girl. Anyway, the 100 yards of hand-screened shagreen wallpaper I ordered for both showrooms should be arriving next week. I can’t wait to see it installed, as it should be stunning. And I did it in a color—not beige or grey. Shocking! Rusty also has a bunch of new designs coming out, so look for some inspiration coming your way soon.

Fabric and wallcovering by Rusty Arena

I have to keep it short and sweet, as I have a rare lunch away from my desk to catch up with my BFF at Mint. We live in the same city but haven’t seen one another in months.That’s what crazy schedules will do for you. Until next time, happy Friday!

The Anniversary Edition

It’s Friday, and I have just finish walking the Oz for an hour in our much loved Fair Park. That’s right. I am not physically at work. I’m writing this in my kitchen while wearing sweaty jogging clothes. I was going to mention the brand, but I don’t want to polarize anyone. That just gave it away, didn’t it?

Designers Guild Spring Summer 2014

 

Guess what else is great about today?

Today—well, actually tomorrow—is the anniversary of my engagement. Yes, that’s right. Two years ago, some sucker decide to put a ring on  it.  In total we have now been together for three years. Who would have thought?  Certainly not me. After my last long-term relationship, followed by another attempt that failed miserably not once but twice, Jimbo was pretty much done with love. But then along came Max, and the rest—well, let’s just say that we have years and years worth of blog material.

Since we cant’t travel for this anniversary, I am going to cook a delicious dinner tonight. (At least I have the ambition of cooking a delicious dinner.) What am I going to cook?  I have no f’ing idea. It feels like a meat-and-red-wine kind of night. Or it could be a fish night? It definitely will not be a shellfish night. We call those ” you-don’t-want-to go-in-there-right-now” nights. Max is allergic to shellfish.

What else is new on the home front? As all homeowners know, it’s always something. Something is either broken, leaking, or needs changing. Currently, the roof deck is under repair. I can hear compression tools and hammering above my head as I type. This is, of course ,taking longer than expected as once you start taking something apart, you almost always discover something else that has to be done. So we’ve had that going on for the past four or five weeks. I am hoping it may actually be done today, but I can’t keep my fingers crossed and type at the same time.

I have also been re-covering a few pieces I purchased for my other place back in 2006. It’s bye-bye  2006-black-and-taupe-cut-velvet damask and hello to neutral linen. I know. Boring. It actually almost sounds like the reverse of design. But in this case, to make that chair work in Max’s office and keep my vintage rug ,which he loves, it just has to happen. I am also going to try a weathered black linen, which has been glazed to a glossy shine on my Moroso chair that was forgotten at the upholsterers during the cohabitation transition. If he can make it work, I think it is going to look really awesome.

I have a feeling that Max’s office will soon be the new guest room, and the old guest room will be the new office. While I have just found the perfect pair of  vintage side tables in original condition that can hold an iPad, a tray for glasses, and a Fiji water bottle (thanks, Dolly Python!) and the perfect 1960s Italian floor lamp (Thanks, Nicole!) to complete the look with our beautiful low and modern bed in the master, we have now discovered than maybe we might like to get out of bed in the morning by actually sitting up rather than rolling out.

Rather than install hand rails and a lift to get out of bed, we will have to start looking for a new bed. That last one only took a year to agree upon, so I have that to look forward to. But at least I can reinstall the current bedroom in the new guest room. It will be a tight squeeze for sure, but I am pretty certain our rare overnight guests, who tend to travel in pairs,will appreciate getting to sleep in a larger bed.

So in the vein of redoing things, how about some inspiration from Designers Guild and these beautiful fabrics part of the Spring Summer 2014 collection? It looks very cool and relaxing. Something we will all probably need in the months to come.

And with that, Mr. Jimbo needs to get cracking on tonight’s menu. If you happen to see smoke or hear a fire alarm, don’t worry. Everything is okay. It just means, “Honey, dinner is ready.”

Have a great weekend.  And happy anniversary to Max. I’m glad you decided to tame the shrew.

Part Due – Finally!

 Part Due is late. I was desperately trying to get my happy on last Friday so I could share some happy with you, but it was not happening. This could be due in no small part to what a designer and I have now nicknamed “those damn sconces.” By Monday, they had pretty much become “f’ing sconces.” But I am happy to report that as of today, I think we have reached a happy place and proper wattage.

Now it’s time for the second part of my spring holiday, or as I like to call it, “Why the hell have I never been here before?” On our last morning in Venice, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise. We also discovered we had no feeling on the right side of our bodies due to the extreme firmness of those beds. If only my abs knew such firmness. Anyway, in the movie I was using as an inspiration during my trip to Venice, Katharine Hepburn’s character chose a red Venetian glass as a memento of her trip. Since I already work with Seguso, one of the oldest glass factories on the island of Murano, I wanted something other than glass as a memento—something neither the maid nor I could break. Continue reading

If it is Tuesday I must be in Venice

I know. I promised on a stack of shelter magazines that I wouldn’t talk about, you know, bodily stuff anymore, but does flying international make anyone else gassy? No? Now on to the highly anticipated recap of my spring adventure or what could also be called “The Great Grappapolloza,” as I was introduced to this sweet nectar from various regions and of varying ages by our ever-so-pleasant host for the holidays. They say a grappa a day keeps the doctor away. It also does wonders for jet lag by making you completely forget you have it. I just wanted to point this out now because my recollection of certain events might be slightly altered. We will also have to make this the first of a two-part series or Laura might decide to beat me with a gondola.

Anticipating some possible travel-related drama (Please reference every international—and domestic, for that matter—trips I’ve ever taken.), I made sure to remember Jimbo’s “Three P’s for International Travel”: pillow, pills, and plugs (earplugs). I should have also added “parka,” as the plane was so cold that I was sure the airline was trying to cryogenically freeze me so I wouldn’t age on the voyage. When you have traveled by plane, train, bus, boat, foot, and ferry all within a 36-hour period, these must-haves make a huge difference.

Home base for our spring adventure was Lugano, Switzerland, which is also the home of our ever-gracious hosts and sweet friends. Having friends who have already visited the cities you are about to see and who also like to do the same things you do makes a huge difference on the vacation rating scale.

The city of Lugano lies near the border of Switzerland and Italy at the foothills of the Alps. It surrounds Lake Lugano, which has waters so pure that it provides the city’s drinking water. Some call it the “new Monte Carlo” of Switzerland. I’m not sure about that as my last visit to Monte Carlo left a little to be desired. I can tell you that, instead of a Starbucks on every corner, you are more apt to find a high-end watch or jewelry store. So as far as that goes, it could be true.

The views are spectacular, with each turn presenting a postcard-worthy view. It really is that beautiful. You begin to wonder if the Department of Tourism orders a fluffy cloud to float over the quaint village at the exact moment you pull out your iPhone. It isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility because these people are very efficient. But these views come at a premium price. Want a modern three-bedroom flat with a lake view and roughly 1,600 square feet? Plan on paying around $3.5 million. Want a villa on the water? You can plan on paying between $20 million and $75 million—the latter of which is the rumored amount that Mark Zuckerberg plucked down for his place in paradise.

We also visited Bellagio and Lake Como. No sighting of George or the new fiancée, but we did enjoy a delicious lunch. We saw some other beautiful cities that ended in “agio.” This was about the time the jet lag began to sink in. The fog could also have been caused by our regular afternoon visits to Aperol Spritz, but let’s just blame jet lag.

On day four we headed for the world’s most romantic city, Venice. I found it fascinating that in the time it takes to drive from Houston to Dallas I traveled from Switzerland to Venice. I will definitely take the Switzerland-to-Venice drive any day. Anyway, it was my first trip to Venice, and spring is definitely the time to go before the onset of tourist season and summer heat. Since my first impression of Venice was formed by the movie classic, Summetime, I decided I would retrace Katharine Hepburn’s steps in that film. I have a few things in common with her character: we are both middle-aged and prudish.

I made most of it happen. We stayed in an old villa where we had a pretty large suite of rooms. It was charming except for those beds. They were so hard that it felt like I was sleeping on my heart (which is made of stone, obviously). But we were there to see things, not sleep, damn it. We wandered the streets and canals, and we got lost wandering those same exact streets and canals. We hired a boat to take us through the Grand Canal. We even made it to Harry’s Bar, reportedly the home of the Bellini. You can definitely skip that part. It was nothing like the movie except for the extreme smallness of the place. I also skipped a few other parts of the film like falling into a canal nor did I make out with an exceptionally attractive, married Venetian antiques dealer on the island of Burano.

However, I did make out with a very attractive married person. He’s married to me. My favorite part was walking in the Piazza San Marcos at sunset. It really is spectacular, and it wasn’t crowded, which I hear is a rarity. There was an orchestra playing the overture to La gazza ladra, just like the movie. I was in B-roll heaven, lapping up the atmosphere until someone approached and said, “Bonasera. It will be 6EUR per person to listen to the music, plus an additional 16EUR per drink per person with a two-drink minimum.”

I rank the food in Venice as a solid C for now, but I have more exploring to do. The super touristy restaurants are just okay. They are cranking out food for hungry tourists. And the oldest restaurant in Venice? Meh. The bread definitely tasted like the oldest bread ever. The bean soup was delicious, but otherwise, I think it was an off night. We had the most success, when we ventured off the beaten path. The asparagus lasagna with the homemade pasta at the quaint restaurant in a residential neighborhood was heaven. And then there was the restaurant that took the work of three iPhones and an iPad to find. It was actually quite close to the hotel, but we almost gave up as all the twists and turns and confusing streets combined with growling stomachs were almost too much to handle. But then we saw someone exit a back door on a nondescript corner of a street. We had found the restaurant we were looking for—except it was the kitchen entrance. But after getting to the right place, we had a delicious meal, lots of laughter with friends, and a Grappa tasting, and my love affair with Italy only became more intense.

So that’s Part One. Not too shabby, right? Next week, we will discuss Part Two: The Cowboy and the border patrol. Hope you all have an excellent weekend. And remember, it’s Friday. Get your happy on.

It’s Friday. What more could you want?

My new happy place


Last night, I discovered Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups. This is probably not a good thing going into spring/summer. I started with just one, but (isn’t there always a but?) I couldn’t resist the urge for more. I made the trip down those three flights of stairs to the kitchen for another one. Okay, it was really three more. But if no one is there to see you eat something, did you really eat it? It would probably be easier to just keep them near me at all times, say in a decorative Gucci bag marked “For Emergency Only,” but I have convinced myself that the trips up and down the stairs to retrieve the chocolate-and-peanut-butter goodness is helping to burn the calories I am consuming. Perhaps it works even better if I eat and climb the stairs at the same time? Alas, I probably need to do lots more flights of those dang stairs to equal things out in the caloric intake department.

In related news, I’ve been taking Oswald for long walks (with a little running thrown in for good measure) after work. I have discovered that once you give him any slack in the leash, it quickly goes from walking the dog to the nine steps of reeling in a large fish. I totally look like I am trying to reel in a marlin instead of walking a medium-sized dog. Here is a helpful hint that works for both dogs and large fish: Allow no slack in the line at any time.

There was no slacking at this week’s opening of Frederick Vaerslev’s new exhibit at the Power Station. It was a packed house. I also happened to run into one of my biggest fans who had a few words to say about last week’s blog post. She said that she hoped that I was over my “V-word phase” because it was spoiling her dinner. Of course, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Did she just say what I think she said?” That was followed by, “This is such a Lena Dunham moment. I may be forced to take my shirt off just because.” But then I remembered that men—be they gay, straight, or otherwise preoccupied—really don’t go around using that word, and I certainly have never written it in a blog post. It just doesn’t come up in the course of daily conversation or like ever.

Then it hit me. She wasn’t talking about THAT “V” word. She was talking about my story about my cat, Big Ray, and his vomit. We both laughed hard when I told her what I thought she meant. Now, finally, my dear readers, I think I may have reached the end of my poop and “V” words (both versions) phase. (I doubt that. —Ed) Thank goodness for small miracles, right? But notice I typed, “may have reached the end.” I want to leave it open ended—much like Cher and her final farewell tours.

But people, I really want you to think of the fern as an object of beauty whether in plant form, printed on a beautiful fabric you can hang in your windows, or embroidered on the shoulder of a Jenny Packham gown worn by a princess, and not so much something associated with Big Ray and his digestive system. Please enjoy this image of Jindal in indigo by Designers Guild. It really showcases just how lovely ferns can be in any form.

Now that we have gotten all that cleared up, here is what you should do this weekend. Get out there and see some art. It is Art Fair week, after all. It’s a great time to espy that piece you’ve been looking for but never knew you needed. Plus you just might learn something new by exploring all the galleries and world-class art the city has to offer. Then you can tell your friends that you learned not one or two but three new things this week—and all from a blog. Ferns are lovely to look at in every form; art is a good thing because it opens our minds and makes us think; and most importantly, allow no slack in that line. You can thank me later. Happy Friday!