El Paso, Texas: A Model City for Embracing Graffiti Art

The last 12 months have been busy with work, play, and house remodel. We'll get to house remodel later but first I wanted to share some pictures from a quick trip I took last month to El Paso. I was pleasantly surprised by the city that truly seems up and coming. I love loved all of the graffiti art. Here's a sampling...


Bathroom 1 Remodel Part 1

Update: It's been a busy winter! Mr. Monkey has been working hard to prep the house for the eventual addition of a second bathroom. For the time being we thought it was time to update the old bathroom. So we bought some tile, painted the walls, bought a new vanity, and new light fixture. Because we took the plunge and bought into IKEA world for the vanity we have a little awkward space in between the wall and the vanity. So we've asked Jeff Bandow over at Dinosaur Wood working to make us a small custom cabinet/shelf set. That little unit should be ready in the next week or so. More picture coming...


And we're back!

Well I'm glad to report that this blog is not dead...yet! We've got one last hurrah and then the show will be over. Consider this the encore (that you maybe never even asked for). It will be the one year encore, nothing more, but possibly less!
Close up of Vatican floor tiles. I'm pretty sure they're hand painted. 
To catch you up Mr. Monkey and I have been thoroughly enjoying our lovely kitchen that was designed almost five years ago.  This spring it will have been four years since our central room in our wee home was transformed into the super functional, comfortable, and stylish space it is now.
You may remember that back then the major players were David Schmitz, AIA, from engage:ARCHITECTURE  and Jonathon Plummer (who has since moved onto to sunnier skies in San Diego). It seemed like a natural to once again call David for his creative vision for pleasing aesthetics partnered with environmentally-friendly design. Well it's official! He's back and working on a design for us as we speak. In two weeks we'll have the final design so until then I'll be uploading some of our inspirations as we plan.  Right now I'm obsessed with tile! So here are some tile inspirations from some of our travels over the last couple of years.

Tile floor from somewhere in the Vatican Museum, Vatican City.

A building in Italy.
I always love a pop of color against black and white floors, Hotel Downtown Mexico City.

The under stair ceiling in the Sanborn's in Mexico City.


Glamping (Glamour + Camping): Rustic cabin now slightly less rustic

Labor Day weekend is upon us. For many that means the last chance to get a long weekend in the great outdoors before the weather turns and the children turn back into students. We're joining the ranks of all who like to adventure outdoors but not without a touch of comfort. This weekend we're headed up to our hippie timeshare in the enchanted woods of Devil's Creek and Breitenbush River. Last year at this same time Mr. Monkey pulled a fast one on the existing dinky and rotting deck and made a new and improved deck that has (arguably) more structural integrity than the cabin itself. The new deck is large enough for a tent or a wine tasting with stadium seating. It's also complete with two large (several hundred pounds each) flagstone pieces. Now the deck is ready for a charcuterie plate and excellent bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir. Here are Mr. Monkey's steps for building a kick-ass deck (which is not connected to the cabin itself for ease of moving later if cabins changes occur). 
Warning: Do NOT move heavy rocks on your own! Mr. Monkey is crazy strong and stubborn.
Tip: If you scroll to the end of the pictures there is some cuteness that awaits you.
May your camping adventures be hella dirty and glitterific!


Exploring in Portland: N. Williams

It's been awhile since I've been on the blog so first I'll share some old news. This past spring Mr. Monkey and I were in Portland and were able to pass some time on N. Williams St. Loads of cute stories and eateries are there to be explored. My favorite was Lark Press (pics below). I picked up some cute coasters for the kitchen and a special book of birds. You can also check out Lark Press's Etsy page if you can't make it there in person. Others have written about eating on N. Williams so I'll skip that but I will say we had lunch and liquid lunch at Hopworks Bike Bar and we were quite happy that it wasn't completely slammed on a Saturday and the burgers were d-lish. If you want you can also pedal a stationary bike and get a discount on your beer for contributing to power the establishment. Cheers to exploring in your own state!


Modern Mexico City: Part 4

One of my very favorite buildings to visit in Mexico City is a department store! If you know me you know that I actually hate malls so this favorite building is a surprising choice. This building, known as Casa de los Azulejos, is the home on Sanborn's department store. The interesting thing about the building is that you can walk in and it looks like a normal department store. You have to walk towards the center of the building to discover this gem of a restaurant. You'll find a 3 story tall atrium with amazing artwork, intricate details, and pretty decent food to boot. You can dine on the two bottom floors and it seems like the upper floor is used for private parties or special occasions. I love this building so much because it takes the home of a wealthy family, built in the 1790's, and provides it with a modern life that is now a constant hub of activity. One of the highlights of the building an Orozco mural painted in 1925. This is one building where you really want to take the stairs! Modern designers should take note that details are included everywhere, the floor, the ceilings, the walls, and especially the staircases. 

Second floor dining terrace.

Heading up to the 2nd floor,  concrete tile ceiling detail, note the stair tiles.

First floor dining. Highlights = garden murals and tufted leather booths.

Happy me, enjoying eggs with a corn cream sauce, not what I expected but delicious.

This is the ceiling!!! Tiles on the ceiling. Love the pattern.

Here's that same ceiling from the second floor terrace.

You win, by making it to the end of this blog post, you get to see the Orozco 1925 mural. Amazing!


Modern Mexico City: Part 3

A dining experience is elevated when you have both high-quality food and an amazing view. It's much more common to have one over the other. In fact it seems if it's a roof top bar or restaurant the owners all too often over-rely on the view and not the quality of the food and drinks to bring people in. Although we were only there for lunch, we arrived for the view and left thrilled with the food and service! We feel extremely lucky to have stumbled upon El Mayor, a restaurant on top of a building with a bookstore.  We were actually site-seeing over at the Zocalo where you can find the National Palace, the cathedral, and the Templo Mayor. I looked across the Templo Mayor and say what seemed to be a modern oasis atop a building that was sure to have a great view. We walked around the Templo because of construction, ran across a protest, skirted the edge of people in the backs of trucks with bull horns, and used the skyline to find that sky-high haven.  Here's what we found. If you're visiting Mexico City you must have a meal or happy hour at El Mayor. Buen Provecho! 
Here's the Trip Advisor rating of El Mayor. I guess it's not a secret place but it certainly felt like that at the time. 

A satisfied me.

Happy Mr. Monkey with Oaxacan cheese with green salsa.

Squash flower soup

The stairs down to the bookstore and up to the view.