Sunday, May 31, 2009

Miami Beach Real Estate Auction Scheduled

Miami Beach real estate auction of luxury Miami homeMiami Beach real estate has slowly and steadily lost a substantial amount of its value in the past few years. Most homes are selling at 2003 prices, with a few exceptions, and the bottom is yet to be seen. Foreclosures on Miami Beach were almost unheard of a few years ago, but not so anymore. On Wednesday June 3rd, 2009, another luxury home is scheduled for auction at the Courthouse in downtown Miami.

The property, located at 5005 Lakeview Drive in
Miami Beach, consists of a charming Mediterranean house with 6,000 square feet of interior living space, that is situated on a lot measuring 47,540 square feet, with 200 linear feet of frontage on the intracoastal waterway. The large family home was purchased in March of 2004 for $3,100,000, according to the Dade County Property Records, and is presently being offered as a short sale for $3,000,000.

The estate has been on the market for sale since September 2007, when it was listed for $6,500,00
Miami Beach home on Lakeview Drive0. Five subsequent price reductions brought the price down to the $3,000,000 being asked today. The property is unlikely to be sold at auction, because most luxury home buyers are still sitting on the sidelines waiting to see how the real estate market plays out. Literally hundreds of luxury homes are presently for sale on Miami Beach, and the buyers are few.

Home owners who really want to sell are going to have to come to grips with a very different reality, the one that exists today, not the one that existed yesterday. Prices of
luxury homes on Miami Beach are still inflated, and sellers are reluctant to admit that they may have to accept 30% to 50% less for their property than they originally anticipated. For those who doubt, there are some interesting statistics that appeared on Friday in the Miami Herald.

According to figures released by the Mortgage Bankers Association, in the first 3 months of this year, Florida ranked first in the country in foreclosures, with 11% of of its mortgage loans in foreclosure. In addition, one of four borrowers in Florida were either late on their mortgage payments or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2009. A report just released by, a web based real estate service, states that approximately 71% of home owners who purchased a home or condo in Miami in the past 5 years, are "underwater", meaning that the amount they owe on their mortgage exceeds the present value of their home.

For home buyers, luxury or otherwise, all of this is good news, because a buyer can practically have his/her choice. "Low-ball" offers which were once frowned upon by both sellers and realtors, have become commonplace in today's market. As Donald Trump recently said on Larry King Live, "There has never been a better time to buy".

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Flowers Everywhere!

The beauty of an English garden is everywhere - on china, textiles, in paintings and packaging! We have filled our cottage garden with many varieties of pretty flowers and shrubs, and that love of flowers is also reflected in our home and on our website. Here is a small selection of our favourite collections and floral scenes which abound in both cottage and garden!

Vintage toiletries in a plethora of floral fragrances and designs...

A rampant and aromatic rambler of a rose!

The dainty blooms of aquilegia...

...the sunny yellow of the pansy...

...and the soft faded purple of the geranium...

...are echoed in this beautiful old oil painting of pansies.

The vibrant pink of sweet williams provides bold and lasting colour throughout the season.

A mix of magnificent, floral vintage fabrics provides inspiration in a rainbow of cheerful colours and patterns.

A pretty floral glass mirror amidst the vintage toiletries.

Thank you for visiting - we hope you have an enjoyable weekend!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Address It

I found these galvanized planters at the thrift store for three dollars each. I like the galvanized finish, but I wanted them to look a bit more formal.
So out came the black spray paint.
Now they match the other decor on my front porch.
Just for fun I put our house number on the front of each using a permanent paint pen.They're the perfect pots for beautiful boxwoods.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Clean Slate

Do you ever take all of the accessories out
of a room and live with the
empty surfaces for a few days?Do you ever rearrange the furniture
or does it stay in the exact same spot
year after year?
You know that I love my accessories/clutter,
but it's very refreshing
to occasionally remove all of the extra stuff
and change the lay out of a room.
It gives you that "just moved in" feeling.
Try It!
Go ahead, give your inner decorator
a clean slate
Allow yourself to embrace change.
Take some time to revitalize your room
and your life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Winding Down to Summer...

I have noticed that some of you are witnessing the end of the school year already. In Canada, we have a fairly predictable school year from province to province, and we see classes finish by the end of June. There are some other predictable events for me that occur before all that happens. First, is the nightly pinging of June bugs as they bang against the windows, seeking the light within. I remember my first encounter with them, after emigrating from Ireland (where they did not exist): five years old and a huge droning bug, with very sticky legs, stuck in my hair instilled a life-long fear of them that still exists within me.

As I dug in the garden the other day, I noticed the telltale larvae of future June bugs, just waiting to wake up and make me fearful of stepping out my door at night throughout June. I stifled a gag and quickly dusted my self off, in hasty pursuit of more pleasant tasks. June, for me, is also hallmarked by frequent trips to the garden centers. Let loose in a garden center, I am like the proverbial kid in a candy shop. Heady from the fragrant scents wafting about me and the colourful play before me, I quickly fill my cart with pots and pots of flowers. I have tried starting flowers from seed before, but it is not for me. Always one to enjoy immediate results, I love the instant gratification and reward of planting glorious colour in my garden and reaping the benefits of an instant garden.

Another June celebration is the first picnic of the season. My favourite thing to do is to pack up a lunch of my kids' favourites and surprise them with either a quick lunchtime picnic, or a more drawn out afternoon picnic where they can skip afternoon classes and I enjoy hero status for the day. I always pack up a blanket, a frisbee or kites, and a flask of lemonade or punch. It is one of the best ways to enjoy an afternoon in the outdoors, and for very little money.

My schedule ( and the weather) hasn't allowed it yet, but with June beckoning, I plan to head off happily and "pick" some flowers, scoop up my girlie (and maybe the boys, if they're game) and head to the beach or a favourite lookoff to break in my new/old retro picnic cooler ($3 at a thrift shop). Oh, and neither one involves being outside at night, so I won't have to extract any June bugs from my hair!!
What does June mean to you?
All images (except the June bug!):

Simply Pretty Storage

You know of my love for knobs, so you can imagine my delight when I found this little cutie.I was also delighted to find this little wooden box at the thrift store. Sure I could have built one, but finding one for a dollar is always exciting. As you can see, I painted it the slightest shade of blue and did some instant aging with sandpaper and stain.With the addition of the cute little knob, I have a
simply pretty storage
solution for those dryer sheets.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pardon Me

I'm taking an extra day off to catch up. I hope you'll pardon me for posting an "oldy but goody" from a year ago.

What is it about learning something new?
It's both terrifying and exhilarating!
A few years ago I decided to take a stained glass class. I'd wanted to do it for about twenty years and the timing was finally right. We had tackled the job of remodeling our kitchen on our own, and I wanted one cabinet door to have a stained glass insert. The class was challenging but fun! Someday, when the time is right again, I plan to take another class.
The entire class had to make a small sun catcher as our first project. Much to the teacher's dismay I chose this door insert to be my second project. Luckily, it turned out beautiful, (thanks to a little help from the teacher).
Every time I walk into my kitchen and see my stained glass
it makes me happy. It reminds me that
it's important to
continue to learn,
and that you really can teach an old dog new tricks!
What new thing have you learned lately?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Continuum Condo South Beach – Alex Birkenstock Buys Penthouse for $9.9 Million

Continuum condo South Beach Miami Beach penthouseContinuum South Beach is one of the finest condo buildings on Miami Beach, standing 42 stories high, and located at the southernmost tip of South Beach. About 10 days ago, Alex Birkenstock, a German bachelor, and reportedly a member of the famed footwear Birkenstock family (although his New York realtor insisted that he is a “private hedge fund guy”, and not the Alex Birkenstock who recently departed from the operational business of Birkenstock), purchased a tri-level Miami Beach penthouse in the Continuum for $9.9 million. Birkenstock had no comment to make regarding his identity.

The 7,374 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms condominium, on the 40th floor of the Continuum South Beach, boasts 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay, and the city. The residence features 13 feet high ceilings, and a 26 feet high ceiling in the dining room, its own private elevator, and smart house touch panels that allow you to operate everything from the lighting to security to South Beach condo in Continuum Miami Beachhigh-end audio and video systems. This most luxurious apartment in the sky is truly state of the art.

The Continuum is situated on 13 acres of some of the most prized real estate in the world, featuring 3 pools, 3 tennis courts, and 2 restaurants. Birkenstock bought the condo from Howard and Lilly Steinberg, who, according to the Dade County property records, purchased it in June 2003 for $7 million.

The Steinberg’s had been trying to sell the penthouse since March 2007, when they listed it for $25 million. In December 2007 they reduced the price to $21 million, and when they were unable to secure a buyer, they again lowered the price to $14.5 million at the end of November 2008.

No More Followers?

Take that Blogger!!!

After days of frustration, and numerous difficulties with accessing my own blog, I learned that it is a Blogger problem. Every time I'd try to get on my own (and some of yours!), I'd get an "Operation Aborted" message. Aaargh!!

A temporary solution, apparently, is to remove the Followers gadget, which I have since done. But , does this mean I will lose all of my followers, and when I add the gadget again later, will you all be gone? Is there anyone who can answer this question? Of course, if you are having trouble accessing my blog, then you probably can't even read this post...!!!

Please let me know, via email or a comment, if you have had difficulty reading my blog, and most importantly, if you still are, despite my action.

Does anyone know if Typepad or Wordpress is more fool proof? I know Typepad blogs load incredibly slow for me and that tends to deter me...

Should I make the switch??

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Swing On By...

photo: Rodney Smith

There are many reasons I'd like to live in the country. I have written of them before, in fact; but the reality is that I will not be living in the country anytime soon, nor am I sure it will ever be the best choice for us anyway. Still, I have my reasons. Big yards - with ample room for vegetable gardens, a pool, playhouse, tree house, room to raise chickens, and a barn to house barn cats. I would wish for apple trees, picnic spots, and a little pond my kids could skate on in the winter. Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?

Still, there is one more reason: I would want a swing. Now, I realize you don't need to live in the country to have a swing set (although our present lot doesn't afford the space), and we do have our porch swing - which sees lots of use - but I want a swing like this:
photo: Katrin

Or maybe a tire swing, which I could strategically settle myself upon, fling my head back and, throwing caution to the wind, let my hair graze the worn, dusty ground as I swing.

The memories of doing that as a school girl come flooding back even as I picture it. I distinctly remember the dizzying feeling as the tire would swing round and round, and my head would spin even more if I closed my eyes. I would marvel at how the backs of my eyelids appeared bright red as the sun shone through them, and I felt as if I didn't have a care in the world. It leaves me wondering if I could still summon that same, carefree feeling.

I remember teaching my children to pump their legs, ever hopeful that I wouldn't be forever beckoned to "Push me, Mummy," when I longed to just chat with the other mums at the playground, or read a few pages from a book while sitting on the deck at home. I now know that those are days I sometimes miss; but I know they are days I will return to and appreciate more when my own children share their young with me some day.
Each spring I prowl around my little yard looking for a potential spot to hang a swing for our daughter, hoping one surfaced like some forgotten new planting. I want to have another look at a little girl swinging happily, head thrown sweeping the ground.
Back out I go to search for a magical beanstalk...

Friday, May 22, 2009

In Appreciation

In Appreciation of all the men and women
who have and who now
Serve Our Country
and to their families. Thank You for Your
Dedication and Sacrifice.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.

Hooked on Lemonade Stands

Haven't we all set up a lemonade stand as children, hoping to make enough money to buy a treat from the ice-cream man who rolled into our neighbourhood to our c omplete delight? I admit I didn't engage in too many attempts at this early form of entreneurship, but I did try my hand at it. Often, I wouldn't pick my times well, or I'd be sabotaged by a neighbourhood girl who had a prettier stand. I'd be left with warm Tang or too sweet lemonade (with the odd tiny fly floating in it) and sticky cups I had to then wash (we never seemed to have disposable cups). Still, it was fun while it lasted and nothing beat hearing the clink of a few coins in my can when I'd manage a sale. All this ended when we moved to the country/sticks, where a girl could burn to a crisp waiting for a car to go by...

A couple of summers ago, a friend brought me back to those memories with a simple phone call. She called to tell me she had found a beautiful lemonade stand for me to give to my daughter. Her little girls often set up a makeshift stand, as they have prime real-estate for lemonade sales. She let me know she was buying one for her girls, and it was crafted in a TIKI style!! Well, el pronto, I told her to fire one in her car for me!! When she brought it to me, it was better than I had ever imagined a lemonade stand could possibly be. Visions of Sophie and her friends selling lemonade to the construction workers nearby -we live in a developing subdivision- popped into my mind and all the money we (oops, I mean she) could make!!

I'd love to show you a photo of it, and I will..once we have our inaugural sale of the season! For now, I'll just leave you with visions of lemonade stands that, with all their beauty, would guarantee big lemonade sales!! Why don't you and your little one(s) set up a stand yourself. Just for goodness sake, don't embarrass yourself by getting caught with your hands in the money jar...or flirting with the male customers! Oh, and buy some disposable cups...and another would look very pretty if you threw on one of those vintage aprons! Just make sure someone takes a would make a great scrap-booking page!!!
Now, check out Julia's Hooked on Fridays party for more fun posts!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A New Outlook

I was blessed to spend this past weekend in
Washington DC
watching these because my daughter and son-in-law both graduated.Hooray for them!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Of course we did our fair share of sight seeing.But I also took some time to
notice all of the little things
that are often over looked.
can always be found
in the details
even within our own homes.