Dec 16, 2011

The Nutcracker

The holiday season is benchmarked by many things to me. 
The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center - image via Kelly-Mooney Photography

But this classic ballet set to Tchaikovsky's exhilarating score is the most elegant of Christmastime traditions.  Many people say it's slow and a bit schmaltzy, but I'm a sucker for 'The Nutcracker.'  I've attended countless performances of the ballet by different dance companies in many different venues.  No matter if they're local children or world-renowned ballerinas, the performers always tug at my holiday heartstrings through dainty dances and the wonderful plot of this classic story. 

There is a holiday party at Clara's house.  She and all the kids play and dance.
image via Cho Photography

Clara's mysterious godfather brings her a gift, a handsome wooden nutcracker.
image via Peter Norvig Photography

Clara is absolutely smitten with the gift. She falls asleep in the parlour under the Christmas tree with the nutcracker.
image via Hong Kong Ballet

Clara dreams that the Nutcracker comes to life to defend her against the invading mice army.
image via Will Brenner Photography

The Mouse King and his army are really scary, but Clara is saved
by the Nutcracker's heroic bravery.
image by Rosalie O'Connor via Faster Times

The Nutcracker turns into a Prince, who whisks her away to a magic snow kingdom.
image via Hong Kong Ballet

They are greeted by dancing snowflakes in the enchanted forest.
image via Mazzaferro Photography

The Prince escorts Clara to the Land of Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy. They tell the fairy about their daring battle with the army of mice
and she rewards them with a celebration of dances.
image via Will Brenner Photography
image by Carol Pratt for the Washington Ballet

Mother Ginger, a gingerbread house-like apparition,
opens her skirt to free dozens of dancing gingerbread cookies.
image (and very cute backstory) via Dumping My Purse

image via Brio Dance Company

The Land of Sweets send Clara and the Prince off with a stunning parade farewell.
image by Jim McFarlane via the Berkshire Review

Clara awakens from her dream and finds herself by her Christmas tree with her beloved Nutcracker.
image via Carlos Echenique

If you have a chance to see this classic Christmas performance (and there's probably one in your area), support the Arts and treat yourself to this magical tale with superb orchestral score.

Dec 15, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Despite being a major Christmas person, I opted out of getting a tree this year.  My husband was shocked that I didn't want one.  I'm not completely sure why I'm not feelin' the tree this year, but perhaps this fantastic, award-winning little film nods to my apprehension. 

How lovely are thy branches.....

Dec 14, 2011

An Open Truss

When I was in design school at the New York School, I took a terribly difficult lighting class that challenged my embarrassingly basic mathematics, physics and chemistry knowledge.  Through the semester, I learned so much about the science of light, about color temperature, kelvins and electric wattage.  But perhaps most importantly, I learned about the importance of lighting placement.  Yes, we all know that lighting is more than the basic builder's-grade flushmount popped into the ceiling of a hallway or kitchen.  It's about creating zones of light: Overhead, Task and Ambient. 

In a project for that Lighting class, I designed a magnificent beam ceiling for a private club of a racetrack.  The room was to resemble the interior of an equine barn, and so I used an open-truss ceiling, with the beams of the structure fully exposed in their structural glory.  As it was a lighting class, I devised a system so that the room's overhead lighting would be built into the beams. Man, I love wood beams...

Of course I have emphasized my love of exposed beams on this blog, as well as the cozy cool look of the American lodge, but let's take yet another look at extraordinary ceilings.  The exposed beam truss ceilings shown here give me goosebumps. 

I've had this photo for years.  Anyone know the source?

Painted scissor trusses via Pacific Truss

via Vermont Timber Works

via My Home Ideas

I've had this photo for years. Anyone know the source?

via Southern Living

by Tracery Interiors

via Style Files

via Home Away vacation rentals
via Mi Casa Revista

via Vermont Timber Works

via Yossawat
via Houzz
by Gap Interiors

via Timber Home Living


Dec 13, 2011

Up In The Season

I've been caught up in the Season of Christmas, hence my absence from the blog.  Between nursing a three-and-a-half-week-long head cold (three and a half weeks, people!) and managing the shopping/wrapping/sending gift mission and, oh yeah, work, I've neglected CYAH for over a week.  Shame on me.

But I come back bearing gifts... FREE printable gift tags for your holiday gifts.  There are many artistic, crafty and downright adorable bloggers & artists on the web who have generously provided their art for free download this season.  So why buy those tiny sticker tags or pricey cardstock options when you can print them out for free on your own paper at home?  Any of these will add an extra crafty panache to your gifts this year.

 Baking Labels and Gift Tags from Crafty Carnival
Free printable tags from Insightful Nana
Christmas Tags from Yoonie At Home
Holiday Gift Tags from Nina Seven

Gift Tags & Wine Bottle Tags from Alpha Mom
Botantical Tags from West Elm
Gift Tags from Brunte Productions
from the delightful Sarah Hearts, Free DIY Gift Tag Template
Holiday Labels from Orange You Lucky

Blue Gift Tags from Totally Severe
Typographic Gift Tags from Eat Drink Chic
Holiday Tags from Blush Printables

Happy wrapping and happy gift-giving!

Dec 1, 2011

Sleep Much?

I've been experiencing some bizarre sleep patterns of late. Some nights brutal insomnia, but some nights college-student sleepiness. Oh well, perhaps thinking about dreamy beds, like the one below, will send me back to the land of usual sleepers.

Oddly, I don't even know the source for this bed. 
The tearsheet is in an inspiration folder without a manufacturer tag.  Anyone know it?

Sleep tight!

Nov 30, 2011

Historic Kykuit

In the early 1900s, the John D. Rockefeller family commissioned society architects Delano & Aldrich to complete a country retreat in New York's Hudson Valley.  The result is Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, a traditionally designed Beaux-Arts manse in Classical Revival Georgian style.  I love this house; you might be able to imagine why...

The impressive Eastern-facing facade is covered in Wisteria vines.  image via Flickr
Entry gate is both stately and imposing.  Note the 1913 demarcation.  image via Hortus2 blog

The back of the house, facing west, with a view of the majestic Hudson River.  image via Flickr

The gardens features some stunning bronze sculptures. image via Westchester Magazine
A study in symmetry, the 6 storey structure draws inspiration from Italian Renaissance and French Norman houses.  Kykuit, pronounced ky-cut and meaning ‘lookout’ in Dutch, was a shining example of Delano & Aldrich's dedication to grandiose scale & form.  The structure took six years to complete, then almost immediately underwent a series of renovations for the family to move in during the spring of 1913 The intricate and immaculate gardens were designed by the landscape architect William Welles Bosworth with input from designer Ogden Codman (who also decorated the interiors).

One of John D. Rockefeller's personal mantras was "Order and Balance."  He was an incredibly gifted businessman who thrived in organized and disciplined environments.  Perhaps this country home served as a balance between the order he so craved and the natural beauty of riverfront nature.

The last family occupant, Nelson Rockefeller,* bequeathed his one-third interest in the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation upon his death in 1979.  Tours are available through the Hudson Valley Historic group. 
image via

image via

image via Erbology

Aerial view of the western edge of the property abutting the Hudson. 
You can spot the Tappan Zee bridge crossing over to Rockland County. image via
image via Victoria Gardens blog
If you have a chance to visit this gem, do so while the Westchester foliage is still hanging in there! 

* Interesting side note via Wiki: "In late 1946, a portion of the estate was proposed as the site of the UN Headquarters, when New York City was trying to beat off strong opposition from Philadelphia and San Francisco and secure the organization. Two of Junior's sons, John D. 3rd and Laurance both offered their estate residences, Rockwood Hall and Fieldwood Farm, respectively, for the site of the building. Junior -- who was living in Kykuit at the time -- although appreciating the generous gesture, vetoed it on the grounds that the estate was simply too isolated from Manhattan. He subsequently sent his second eldest son, Nelson, to buy a proposed 6.9-hectare (17-acre) development site along the East River which he then donated for the headquarters."  Huh.
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