Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Countdown No. 11

Yiminy!  the days are flying!  I even forgot to post the countdown!  BTW, my editors, Josie and Brooke, reminded me that it's a countDOWN not UP  so I amended my original post to reflect that:) 

So, to reduce holiday stress, for our Day 11 task get your calendar out and check out the parties you need to attend in the next few days.  Figure out your outfits AND your hostess gifts....reference the blog about this from a few days ago. No last minute fashion crises allowed.....!!!

More to Follow,
Team Blue Box
Annie, Josie, Brooke

Holiday Countdown No. 10

Only 10 days til Christmas and our next stress reducing task: 

wrap a couple of little generic gifts (maybe some specialty coffee or tea) and have them handy in your kitchen or by the back door for those nice friends whom you forgot to put on your list but will pop by with a thoughtful something to give to you....and leave you looking thoughtless.....
It's a rather dreadful feeling to know you didn't get them anything and if you show up a few days later with a present it's painfully obvious where they rated on your xmas list...yup, avoid that sinking feeling with an on-hand backup gift!!

Stay tuned for No. 9!

Team Blue Box
Annie, Josie, Brooke

Holiday Countdown No. 9

Holiday Countdown No. 9
Stress Reducing Task No 9

Create your own team and give them the game plan.  Okay, so it's Friday night.  Before the weekend slips away, get your team rallied (whether it's you and the kids, your sweetheart, your dog....) and on board with the goals you have set.  Teammates love to pitch in but not just when they've settled down to watch football or play Wii with pals.  Get the lists out, set them on a course for an hour or two of concerted holiday effort and you'll be waaaay ahead on Monday! 

From our team to yours,

Team Blue Box
Annie, Josie, Brooke

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Countdown No. 12

On the twelfth day of the holiday countdown, the organizing angels did sing that we should have our days planned out 12-1.

That's right, our only task on this twelfth day of the countdown is to make a BIG master list of all the tasks you have left---which are probably on five different pieces of random paper OR like me, floating around in your head making you CRAZY at 2am. Kids are almost out of school so the really efficient days of getting a ton of errands done are close to ending.

Josie and Brooke are incredible planners.  Hasn't rubbed off on me yet -  maybe a few more decades of working together:)  We can all improve though, right?  Even Martha Stewart MUST have some weak spots....

My goal is to have things in place so that the whole family takes part in getting ready---lots of family gift wrapping sessions so I am not throwing paper on gifts randomly on Christmas Eve at warp speed by my lonesome..

 the lone wrapping ranger will not ride again! make your master list!

More on Day 11 tomorrow....
Team Blue Box
Annie, Josie and Brooke

Great Hostess Gifts

December Countdown...
Yipes the holidays are upon us! All those last minute dashes from running kids around, going to the grocery, and having ten minutes to get ready for a holiday event....I know I end up throwing on a LBT (stands for little black top instead of little black dress...because how often do we get to do a dress??? Not us folks in Seattle...good lord we are casual), some great jewelry, and what I hope are a skinny-fying pair of jeans. My husband is yelling at me to jump in the car because "you look fine, honey!" even though I know I could do sooooo much better....and then screech! I realize I need a hostess gift. So I totter down to the basement in my heels, hubby saying "we don't need to take anything!!!" and I always wish I were ORGANIZED. PERMANENTLY. FOREVER. READY. PREPARED.  LIKE A BOY SCOUT.  But I'm not......

However, on my good days, and we all have those, I do have some on hand solutions for hostess gifts that are more unique than candles, soap or wine...although I'm thrilled to receive all of those!

How about a divine olive oil or balsamic vinegar  you
would never step up to buy for yourself? This is a special gift because your host will remember you each time he or she uses it. Wrap it in a plain brown bag that the grocery store puts your wine in- add a great ribbon, tag, and a sprig of rosemary or boxwood and it's understated chic! Promise Team Blue Box that you will ditch the dorky wine bags that cost you 4 bucks...hate them but feel bad throwing them out!!  Plus that brown bag is recyclable, sustainable, organic....have I left anything out??

If you do give wine, consider something off the beaten path like a prosecco - a super festive treat. My Dutch friend turned me on to this and I love giving and receiving it.  ( thanks, JVdB!)

For a really personalized thank you, we adore customizing a collection of gift tags a host can put right to work this holiday season. This is what we have given many of our clients for a holiday thank-you. It's fun to put together a selection that speaks to your friend's style.

Collecting them throughout the year when you see darling ones on sale takes the pressure is a picture of our yummy stash of cards and ribbon we pull from to put together a gift for clients....a nice wide range of styles not strictly holiday in theme.
Think outside the box- we even hole-punch letterpress coasters, add a ribbon and treat it like a super-groovy gift tag.
Best presented in a cello bag...if you don't have a slew of different sized cello, make your life easier and purchase some! We get ours at Packaging Specialties but I imagine Michael's or other craft stores in your area certainly carry them.   
A couple of other FAB ideas: a yummy selection of sea salts, a great set of pencils (I just received this myself and was thrilled - Dransfield and Ross faux croc pencils in dark brown-  thanks, BG!!) or a rosemary standard or cone (I bought a group of these for my xmas decor at  Home Depot $10 each!!!). 

It's 12 days to Christmas and even fewer til Hannukah...we will do our Blue Box Holiday Countdown starting tonight!  Check in and see what's cooking....

More to come,
Team Blue Box  --  Annie, JoAnne and Brooke

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wedding in Texas

Family and I flew to San Antonio for the wedding of one of my dearest friends, Dottie..whom we affectionately call Dot Dot, Dotsie, Dotsie Doodle.... to David..a total prince, old fashioned gentleman.  She finally got hitched for the first time in her fifties!  Ridiculously exciting!  I remember when we worked together sixteen years ago it took me months to get her to talk about dating:).

 Blue Box didn't do the wedding- Dot is totally capable-She is an event planner by profession!  I just consulted with her a little .  The invites are my favorites ever...I found this fabulous site online, Bella Figura, and their letterpress offerings are exquisite. The card stock is decadently thick.  Check out their other styles. Yum-o-la!!! BTW, Dots loved working with them. They did invites, programs, menu cards etc....

Her china pattern could be considered a break with tradition but has been around forever ... mottahedeh Blue Canton.  This was a great fit for her and her husband because they live in a townhouse built in the eighties with lots of sharp geometry- If Blue Box Workshop ever gets it's paws on it, we would update it with a clean, fresh palette with a few warm color pops to play off a lot of white. The before and after pics would be awesome!.....right, David??  Back to the crucial subject of china, and before I hack off darling David - the blue and white will look great plus, the Asian motif works so well with northwest architecture.

Dottie is a G.R.I.T.(girls raised in the south) so she leans toward feminine southern style that has a ton of charm.  Worked great in her brick georgian condo on the top of Queen Anne..but we all know how much compromise is necessary for the dictates architecture AND more importantly, for a happy home life. My Mr. Lundquist always says that on domestic issues he has a 49% vote -- this results in a lot of close calls but very few wins:) for him.  I know for a fact most husbands aren't that generous. (check with my ex-husband-!!!!)

Okay so going to a wedding in Texas in the winter but it's 70+ degrees is tricky on the wardrobe!  Yech...I totally struggled. and then it ended up sunny, WINDY and FREEZING. None of us packed right. But in true Texas style and since I'm lacking the requisite big hair, I opted for lots of bling to compensate... I just piled my silver jewelry into my suitcase.  Tellier and Lulu were in the wedding along with Dottie's nephew, Carter.... Velvet jackets and gray slacks on boys and silk taffeta ruffle dress and lavender shoes on lulu all from J.Crew wedding! 

And WHY can't we all get dressed up more often?  Don't you think we would be smarter? More successful?  Kids would be better behaved?  Maybe not but when our family walked out of the hotel all duded up for the wedding, Tellier said, "I feel like we are part of the British Dynasty". I think he meant monarchy but funny!  (He also wrote in his grandma's birthday card while we were there, "You always look like you're wearing a million bucks!". We got a good chuckle out of that one....)

Anyway, here are some pics of a super pretty, very traditional southern wedding, small, intimate and the happiest of occasions.....!!!  The antique hydrangeas and soft peach roses, blown to perfection, were luscious- Danny at Trinity Flowers in San Antonio.  Calligraphy on invites, place cards, and guest gift boxes was cheery in her orchid color and simple in style - by Pascal in Kirkland, Washington.  I put a pic in to show you all the yummies that Dot's mom, Mimi, and her dear helper, Easter, made with love for all the guests. 

Dot and David did a fabulous rhumba to a stylish Pink Martini song....who knew they were so talented???

And they rumbled off in a vintage gold mercedes the kids decorated with pink ribbons and the requisite tin cans:) Honeymoon in Fiji......(David, sneak a pic of Dot in her bathing suit and tell her you are posting it on Annie's blog....!!!)

Parties sure are a lot of work.... But heck, all that attention to detail makes events just so fun.  That's why we at BB Workshop looooove giving good parties, helping you all give them, and we especially like going to great weddings, little dinner parties, goofy birthdays, casual cocktails, and on and on.  A thoughtful plan and appropriate delegating make a winner out of a host.  Thanks, Dottie, David, Vivian, Mac, Mimi, Easter, Nance, John and all the others who made this evening memorable.....

More to come....
Annie and the Blue Box team

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Special Day...

Today is the anniversary of my mom's death - it's been 21 years. I know it's been a long time but I still tend to get a little down around this time...gosh, she has missed so much good stuff!!  I'll always wish she could meet her grandkids....

 (side note!: JoAnne wants me to refer to her as "Josie" in this blog...and I totally agree since we are casual chatty here.  Josie is her nickname and is what I always call her otherwwise she thinks she's in trouble...just like when my Deke calls me Ann instead of Annie- yipes!  Did i bounce a check?  Dent the car? Hate it when he calls me Ann!!)

Anyway, Josie decided we needed to honor my mom with something bold, daring and memorable rather than just visiting her at the cemetery. My mom was rather bold and daring and could make a big SPLASH  when she wanted....Josie said in her usual way, "Come on, sister love, quit yer moping!  We have to jump in Lake Washington every December 4th!!"  Crazy girl.  So we did it last December 4th.  It was  terrific and exhilarating and just the perfect event to honor Lucy Wakefield Smith. and it's our new tradition.

Today was Dunk #2 and in addition to me, hubby Deke and Josie, my sis-in-law aka Boonie came son Tellier participated by just being COLD in T-shirt and shorts.  Another teenager, who shall remain nameless, stated that he wouldn't come because it would be toooooo DANGEROUS.  J's hubby Mikey was our photographer with strict orders to take pics from the front, waist up, with us having full editorial rights.   It was a stunning morning on the lake at 8am. Misty sunrise, flat water, peachy sky. Serene. Pasty white and shivering, we put on our tennies or Tevas (we killed our feet last year on the rocks), ran into the water SCREAMING, went for super quick immersion SCREAMING and raced out SCREAMING, hooting, hollering....I'm sure the neighbors had a lousy Sunday wake-up cuz we definitely caused a ruckus:)  Totally invigorating.

The whole day was FABULOUS---the result of a meaningful moment expressed in a nutty way.... The polar bear plunge chased away any sadness.  A happy gesture to a great woman.  Hey and how divine to do something crazy for FREE! I highly recommend it---take the whole family!!!

BIG thanks to my Josie for being wackadoodle and making this happen xxxxoooo

More to come,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hey Blue Boxers!

A quick trip to World Market was fun and got me in the holiday spirit...thought I would shoot you pics of some happy items I saw there. Now that Turkey Day is behind us, I don't mind the Xmas music everywhere. Before the holiday, it just made me gag....why is that?  Timing is everything. Maybe it just seems in bad taste and well, I am occasionally referred to as the Taste Police.  I'm pretty lenient though- after all there is a ton of low priced great stuff out there and we at Blue Box pride ourselves on NEVER being snobby.  We shop everywhere from thrift stores to discount stores and I mean ALL the time. It's just about the mix, right?  You all know that...I'm preaching to the choir!!!  That's why we started Blue Box- cuz we know you are good at pulling stuff together at a reasonable price - just maybe with a little help or a few new resources...

Okay so here are a couple quick finds for the holidays you might like:  think teachers gifts!  So much better than candy or another mug or notepad, how about one of these darling white colanders?  Who couldn't use that?

 Or these fabulous lidded canisters filled with roasted nuts or just a sweet card from your child?  These come in white and green too.  No need to wrap, just tie with festive ribbon- check out this paper ribbon they have there:

And we at Blue Box have been OBSESSED with felt for it's everywhere...yippee!  West Elm has amazing Xmas ornaments and garlands in felt. I may actually brave the day after xmas for their sale cuz I have felt all over my tree and it never breaks so I can pack up Xmas in a hurry:)! The new Seattle West Elm it.  A beautiful space for a cool store.

Back to World Market:
Look at the felt ribbon and felt puppets!  Love....  Felt stickers, too, great for wrapped gifts...

- they have fireman, doctor, and policeman felt puppets too that are totally irresistably quirky for one of your little friends. I didn't photo those because I felt like everyone was watching me take pics all over the store!  the World Market stalker....

Oh and I adore this felt elephant!  Don't know why his tail is sticking straight he mad?? But it just makes it funnier...unless he's doing something private?? Oh yuck...maybe I ruined the cute elephant for everyone....

Okay, and finally,  the traditional Norwegian stockings...I never ever get tired of them! Why don't i have socks like these?? and clogs? And a dirndl?  No need to diet with that attire:)

More to come....
Annie and the Blue Box team

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blue Box Shop at Haystack Antiques

Blue-Box-O-Rama! I thought I'd give you a little peek at our not-so-secret hobby....antiquing right here in Bellevue at Haystack Antiques. Who ever thought you could find treasures in an alley behind Sports Authority! Darling Debbie Nordstrom opened an antique mall - and picked only the most fabulous dealers to lease space to. And Blue Box was one of her picks (aren't we modest??!!).

Opening at Haystack was really a move designed for marital harmony and self-interest. Now when my Deke says to me, "Is that another new purchase? Where is that going?" I can just respond, "Yes, it's new but it's for Blue Box Antiques. We don't get to keep it."  (but sometimes we do...shhh). Having a booth at Haystack has been a great solution- JoAnne, Brooke and I are always stumbling upon amazing finds as we are out looking for clients. It's agonizing to pass on something fabulous because we don't have the perfect home for it. Or... A more likely scenario...our sweet accountant (aka Red Hot) is mad mad mad that we are adding something more to inventory :)

Here's a look at our space before....

And here it is with its build-out....

Super fun treasures all incredibly well-priced. And the other dealers are great. When you have to run in Sports Authority to buy the 3rd pair of cleats this season, slip around behind that big old building and spend 15 minutes for yourself at Haystack.  Located at 144 105th Avenue NE, Bellevue, WA 98004.

We wrangled this enormous piece into the space.
This George II mantel is actually part of an entire paneled room!

Time for tea!

Maintenance free pet for your kitchen.

Chinese radish vintage print.

Vintage spools.  Great for pinning notes!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Blue Box Hosts a Simple Dinner Party

Hello Blue Boxers,

We are tremendously excited that we are just starting to have a little following on facebook and this blog. Thanks for your support!

Although we have barely recovered from our Florida outing, we had a fun neighborhood gathering on the calendar for last night. So we got our team energized with lattes and quickly pulled together the house....having been a construction zone for the last few months, it was a bit stressful! But my husband is always pushing for an in-home event once a quarter because he knows that then the house DEFINITELY begins to sparkle...

We pulled the Churchill dishes out of the suitcases, gave then an extra run through the dishwasher, grabbed a load of yummies from Whole Foods and made everything pretty! Here are a few pictures...not the best quality. We are trying to master the art of great blog lighting and resolution but we aren't even close yet! We are veering wildly between dark and moody and harsh and bright pics. So sorry! Could we please have a photographer on staff??? yeah, well it will have to be one of us!!

Quick and easy finger foods were required with 40+ guests. Breadsticks wrapped in prosciutto are always a fav- these need to be served fairly quickly or the breadsticks will get soggy. We did ours too soon...or people were socializing too much to eat immediately. A better solution would have been to have passed them.

A salmon and caper bruschetta, a tomato bruschetta, green salad with homemade vinaigrette (good olive oil, tons of lemon juice, a liberal dollop of sea salt- emulsify!),roasted veggies- all easy-peasy and good at room temperature. Another yummy hors d'oeuvres-- thinly sliced roast beef on thick crunchy salt and pepper chips with a daub of good horseradish- delicious.... lots of special cheese - a blue paired with a candied orange was especially interesting - and nuts and olives rounded out our nibbles. A great nut dish: roast raw almonds til they smell nutty, throw them hot into a bowl of olive oil, coarse sea salt, and chopped Rosemary- toss! so aromatic and savory.

On the bar: make it look fun with a few types of beverages and repeat with multiples: five bottles of French lemonade, a bunch of white and red wine, and a healthy grouping of San Pellegrino. If you have leftovers, great!

Finally, homemade cookies were mixed with store bought - no problem there! Don't be sheepish when there are such high quality items available.

Keep in mind the secrets to successful entertaining: make it simple, don't be a fussy host, and laugh a lot! People so appreciate that you made an effort and cared enough to invite them over....they certainly don't need you to be as fabulous as you think you should be:)

Thanks to all the friends who came by....KB, the Saggi wine was fabulous! And it's always wonderful to reconnect with family and pals when we all have so much going on. More upcoming on this blog on interior design- lots of great holiday decorating ideas too!

Annie and the Blue Box team

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rustic Wedding Part III

The wedding cake came completely plain just before the ceremony. Meghan ordered it that way because she was worried about it being too fussy....but failed to tell us it had nothing on it! I was cursing her as I was decorating it in the mad rush to finish before guests arrived:) turned out super cute... must have been meant to be...thankfully had more of those adorable chalk hearts (Etsy-dazzlingdesigns) and we put rosemary EVERYWHERE. Smelled divine..... FYI cake was yum-o-la!

Photo courtesy of

During the reception, the newlyweds did a darling tango - note the hot little dress Mrs. Simonsen threw on!! BTW, Beulah was a phenomenal photographer....many of these are her pics. check out her website,

Photo courtesy of

The tent was warm and inviting, the wind and rain came and went all night....the cigar rollers added a very unexpected fun touch to the evening, the dancing was outrageous, the toasts were heartfelt...everyone was so happy.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Here is Meghan, Connie (mother-of-bride), JoAnne (sister-of-bride), and Stuart (niece-of-bride)!

Many many thanks to Connie and Joe, parents of the bride, for being wonderful, supportive and appreciative. Special thanks to Paul Sr. and Carolyn, parents of the groom, for the flowers (and Paul was a great dishwasher:)) and Paul and Meghan- big hugs for trusting us and letting us be creative!!

annie and team