Monday, July 19, 2010

Catalog living

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Well heya! How was your weekend? I spent a few hours today completely wasting my time on a project – it’s one of those that just was a total FLOP. But as hubby always reminds me, at least I know now that it didn’t work, and I won’t always wonder. ;) Gah. (More on that later!)

When things don’t go right with my projects, I often take solace in a little luxury – taking a few minutes to browse my home decor catalogs. I LOVE catalogs.

I don’t subscribe to any home decor mags, don’t follow any “real” decorators and only know of luxurious fabrics like Kravet and Scalamandre because I worked in the decorating “biz” for a couple years. Now, I can’t remember the names of half of the fabric books I searched through every day. :) But that’s OK -- I am already sufficiently overwhelmed by all of your amazing projects I see out in blogland. (My head is swimming!)

Catalogs bring me a different kind of inspiration – very similar to model homes. I could spend a whole day walking through decorated models. LOVE.

I’ve told you before that most of the time when I’m taking pictures for this blog, the crap is chucked out of the shot, or cropped out. ;)  Sometimes I push everything out of the way, take the picture, and it’s not till later that I notice little things I didn’t get to:

It’s like a Where’s Waldo of sorts. But with me, it’s find the toy, or my latest favorite – the bag o’ chips:

I love me some sour cream and onion!! ;)

I personally think the stagers at Pottery Barn are some of the most brilliant I’ve ever seen. I open that catalog and ooh and ahh – every space just feels warm and lovely and gorgeous.

I keep saying I’m going to find a vignette I love, then try to copy it with what I have. But then I start studying a bit more and realize I don’t have a branch to casually perch on the mirror:

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How fantastic does that look? But in real life…hello?? A branch hanging off the mirror? Ummm, I wouldn’t even be able to look at myself! ;) (I kid, I kid!)

The more I break down the photos, the more I don’t quite get it.

If you look even closer, the paper menus scattered on the wall would look positively redonkulous in our house. And the one on the left, that looks like it fell off the wall? Do you know how many anonymous comments I’d get that would be all, “Um, your huge paper handwritten menu fell off the wall.”

And I’d be all, “Uh, DUH. It’s supposed to be like that!”

Yeah, not happening. But it looks OH so right in the catalog.

I think part of the reason I love the pages of the Pottery Barn catalog is that it looks like whoever lives there is ready to party at any second:

Fresh grapes for your guests? Check.

Fifty-two bottles of wine? Check.

Bread stuffed into glass? Check.

And why didn’t I think to have a olive oil tasting party?:

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Can I admit something here? For one hot split second, I thought -- “Wow. I must have an olive oil tasting party!”

NO, I must not. What the ?? I mean, I love olive oil. With some pepper and salt and some yummy dipping bread ---- yummmm…

But I am NOT going to have an olive oil tasting party.

Even though Pottery Barn makes me want to.

There is always something missing from catalog pictures…it’s the little imperfections. The personal touches. I adore this wall, but in our house, at least half the frames would be filled with faces:

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And the gourds on the bottom would be replaced with basketballs. That’s what our decorative baskets store.  ;)

But really…aren’t they dreamy? Really. I get lost in catalogs. They are such fantastic inspiration – for FREE.

Recently, I came across a fairly new site and I knew from the second I saw it I’d have to share it with you all. Many of you have probably already seen it, but if not, check out Catalog Living -- it is hiiiiilarious!

The author of this site has created fictional owners, Gary and Elaine, who live within the catalog pictures, and she pokes fun at the beautiful photos we drool over.

Just try not to laugh:

“Sure Gary’s out of town, but I’m perfectly capable of
starting a fire in the fireplace by myself, thank you very much.”

 

“If you go to Game Night at Gary and Elaine’s,
you can count on playing at least a few rounds of Wood Fish.”

 

“While Gary and Elaine were in the kitchen getting popcorn,
the brave yellow sweater attempted its escape.”

 

“Oh that?  That’s my Wish Plant. 
It’s where I clip pictures of people who I want dead.”

 

ACK!! I. love. it!! So freakin’ funny! The author is actually a actor/comedian named Molly Erdman:

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Does she look familiar?

She’s the woman in the Sonic commercials:

(source)

Those made me laugh out loud. :)

Are you a catalog lova? Do you drool over the perfectly poised photos like me? As much as I love to look, I still don’t know if I could live in these rooms – but it won’t stop me from trying it out! (Just with Thomas the Trains scattered throughout and cat hair tumbleweed floating by.)

What are your favorite home decor catalogs? I drool over PB, Restoration Hardware and Ballard Designs. Any good ones I’m missing out on?

90 comments:

  1. Oh...my gosh this was a great post. I can't get over to that new blog fast enough. hysterically funny.

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  2. Sarah! I will never look at a catalog the same again!! This post was so fun & unique...and totally cracked me up!

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  3. I was laughing so hard I was crying the other day...hilarious stuff!! I like looking at Wisteria too.

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  4. my husband kept asking me, "what?" "what?" because i was laughing so hard. so fun!!

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  5. Wow, I need a "wish plant." I was dying laughing on that one. Oh, and I guess I need to learn how to play "Wood Fish" - sounds like a riot. :)

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  6. I adore catalog living and that funny girl molly!

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  7. Oh my my, your blog makes me pee! I laugh so hard I think you are too FuNnY! Love your blog so much..but now I want a huge sonic drink..and a cute yellow sweater..and some wooden fish. Here fishy fishy!!

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  8. I love the Catalog Living site. It's so funny (and sadly true).
    BTW, I've actually been to an olive oil tasting party. It was fantastic. It wasn't PB fancy, but there were about 10 different oils from all over the world, lots of breads, cheeses and tons of wine. I was really amazed by how different the oils tasted. You should totally throw one.

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  9. Is it bad that my first reaction was not- why would she want a branch? but I have tons of branches she can have! LOL When I started redoing my bedroom I was seriously considering hanging a large branch from the ceiling with little metal lanterns hanging from it... I may still do that if I find a branch I can deem bug free! Thanks for the laugh! I will admit I sometimes get in tantrums and won't check blogger for a few days because everyone else's houses look so clean!

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  10. It's the middle of the night and look how many comments you already have? :o) I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your writing style and your blog topics are always interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Oh my word... I'm just glad my son's at camp and not TRYING to sleep. I'm snortin' away at this entire post!

    Hilarious! I need to go check out the comedian's blog too. :)

    Thanks for the laugh!

    Donna

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  12. Ok, it's totally your fault that I'm about to wake my entire family laughing at this post! :-D
    I was doing pretty good holding it in until I got to the wish tree...that one got me! lol
    Ok, so what in the world did you do that was a flop? :)
    Have a great day!
    Hey, would you send me those Grand Central Station pics when you get two seconds to breath? :)
    Thanks so much!~
    Blessings and Hugs
    Missy

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  13. So, I guess I should cross you off my list of invites for my upcoming olive oil tasting, huh? :) (My guess is that instead of getting tons of anonymous comments regarding your menu falling off the wall, you're going to get them regarding how fab an olive oil tasting par-tay is. Oops. Spoke too late. I see you have one now!)

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  14. I LOVE Catalog Living. I stumbled upon it a few months ago through Young House Love. It's hilarious. I love the Pottery Barn, Domestications and Ikea catalogs.

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  15. I get PB, of course, and Crate and Barrel. I was just going to post about how I got 5 magazines from the library this weekend and devoured them! I love Better Home & Gardens and Real Simple magazines.

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  16. So funny! I will definitely have to check out that site.

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  17. Oh I am so checking out that site. I love the "Wish plant" one everyone should have one

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  18. OK, wow. I have bags under my eyes today from staying up all night reading just about every post on your blog. I found it yesterday whilst searching for something that I don't even remember know, and then stayed up till 1 am (kids were up at 6:30 though...yawn)
    excitedly making lists of all the projects you have inspired me to do.
    Your blog is amazing...and I love all the explicit instructions and photos.
    Thank you! Love, love love it. All of it. I've never commented on the blog of someone I don't personally know, so there. :-)

    ::I'm off to Ace Hardware and Jo-Ann's!::

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  19. Oh that's funny. I had to share Elaine and Jack with a friend.

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  20. the whole time i was reading your critique of catalog pages i was thinking of gary & elaine. they crack me up (i do know they are not real, however).

    actually, i think my husband has been cheating on me with elaine, because her gary sounds way too much like my hubby.

    and, by the way, you crack me up, too.

    hope you have a great week -

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  21. Agreed and love the magazines just the same. I'd say my house is 40% PB stuff I got from the outlet when I lived in Texas, and I love it all, but I don't place it in the casual comfy way, because while it looks cool in the page on your lap, living in it has got to be something entirely different and not at all practical! I think the designers had to reprogram their brains to think how it would look on the printed page. Bummer for us!

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  22. thanks for a laugh first thing Monday morning!! I drool over catalogs as well. My personal favorite is Ballards. I order something inexpensive every now and then so i can keep getting the catalog!!

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  23. I do love me some PB catalogs! My sis sent me a link to Catalog Living a few weeks ago, and I about died perusing her site. I want to meet Gary and Elaine. ;)

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  24. I love the pictures and commentaries....life as described by PB! I am with you and the toys and the pets: real living!
    I have a weakness for anything olive related (too many summers in Provence!) and while I will not host a olive oil party, I did read about it last week!
    thanks for making us laugh...and dream!

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  25. I love going into Pottery Barn stores because I feel like I'm in the house I've never had. I wish I was friends with a stager :)

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  26. Great post! Catalog Living is hilarious. I admit...I LOVE (lurve) Pottery Barn. I do own probably something PB in every room of my home. But, with that said...it is mixed with lots of things we've collected over the years and I think is a lot less "stuffy". I also adore Southern Living at Home. Soon to be Willow House. Both catalogs have great ideas, but many things I've found you can duplicate on the cheap! I pick and choose.
    Oh, forgot to mention...but don't shoot me...hubby just purchased the great wine bar featured in the PB pic for me for my birthday to complete our kitchen redo! But, I promise not to hang paper menus on the wall!! Now, an olive oil party...maybe...

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  27. Actually, the one we are getting is different...the pics look very similar. And, I forgot to mention...having an almost 17 and almost 21 year old...I miss those trains scattered across the floor!!

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  28. Catalog Living is so hilarious.... and, call me crazy, but I think every catalog photo should have a hidden bag of sour cream and onion potato chips somewhere ;)

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  29. I am new to being obsessed with . . err, reading, your blog! The comment you made about your husband cracked me up because my husband says things like that to me when my craft takes an unexpected turn. They're so practical! I, too, love catalogs and probably get too many!

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  30. First, I was glancing down at those gourds on the floor and thought the same darn thing, then I read what you wrote. It actually looks like a ball to me! Second, I laughed out loud at the yellow sweater trying to escape! But honestly I was staring at the green shutters.
    I know catalogs are meant to inspire but sometimes you just want to go...what da heck?
    And I love the lady in the Sonic commercials. They crack me up each and every time I see them. Along with the Etrade babies. I have to go check out her blog!

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  31. I stumbled across that same site a week or two ago. It's hilarious!

    Di

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  32. LOVE this!

    I'm loving decorating our new farmhouse. And every time I think "This room looks so good! I can't wait to take a photo and blog it!"... then I realize it's not catalog perfect. There are bags of chips hiding, or some strange thing that I can't make myself show.

    Whatever... Soon.

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  33. So funny! Catalogs and magazines are the "skinny supermodel" ideal for our houses right? I could look like that if I wanted too right, just like my house could look like that if we didn't actually LIVE in it. I love the catalogs you picked, plus Crate and Barrel too.

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  34. Haha its so true some of us have body envy, me on the other hand I have decor envy! I have a whole file I use to try and sort through my decor hopes and dreams to get the vision.

    Dinner, decor, and dessert

    http://traychic.wordpress.com
    http://traychic.wordpress.com
    http://traychic.wordpress.com

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  35. I always wonder with all the glass and lit candles if the PB staggers have heard of young children. :)Love your basketball comment in baskets. That's more of my world.

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  36. I love catalogs (and magazines)!!!

    I can look at them forever. I doze off at night dreaming of magazine perfect homes.

    I used to get frustrated when my home didn't look exactly like a magazine - all.the.time.

    Then I realized one day....I LIVE here...not 'stage' here. I still like a pretty house...but someone told me on Rate My Space one time I should remove my dresser since my bedroom was so small!! I was like....where would I put my clothes!

    That's when I decided to decorate my home for LIVING...which means breaking some design rules while I'm at it. :)

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  37. OK, Love this! I recently wrote a post about how the Brooks Brothers catalog tricked me into buying a golden retriever...and how that girl resting in the photograph with her beautiful dog and a straw hat should really be holding an enormous scooper. Someone left me a comment referring me to the catalog living blog and I fell in love :)!

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  38. OMG! Too funny. I just looked at the blog, read them all and had tears streamiong down my face! Love it!

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  39. I'm with you on the PB and Ballards, although I lean more toward the Ballards. That's a "leave in the bathroom as reading material" catalog.

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  40. I think the same things when I look through those catalogs. Hysterical post! :)

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  41. I also love those catalogs (you forgot to mention the Anthro catalog, but the stores are really better). But you are so right, when I decide to re-create a certain cozy vignette, I get stuck on the actual details (um...a humongus basket FULL of shells? that's a LOT of shells! and a buffet covered with an oyster tasting? huh?). And I also love that every room looks ready to party. So I use them to give me ideas, rather than thinking I will do an exact copy.
    Now I am heading over to Catalog Living. You had me laughing out loud, can't wait!!

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  42. Oops, forgot about Wisteria and Sundance catalogs too!

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  43. Yeah, I totally agree. Same with spaces decorated in a furniture store. They look wonderful in their spot, but at my house the glass vase would last 30 seconds at our house, or those decorative balls would be thrown everywhere. It's great to just get those creative juices flowing and then fit the decor to our needs and family situation. Great post.

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  44. i love catalogs too. wish my house could look like one...

    p.s. come by my blog and enter my giveaway for a shabby apple dress!

    xoxo,
    anh
    http://anhesty.blogspot.com

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  45. Oh my goodness! Thank you for the laugh!

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  46. OMG Hysterical Post. I wouldn't be able to make menus falling off the wall work either. You should share your diy flop.

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  47. crate & barrell, west elm, and ikea are great catalogs too!

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  48. THANK YOU!!! I drool over PB magazines as well, and it's so good to have a little reality check. Thanks for the laughs and the jolt of common sense. :)

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  49. Now that was downright hilarious. Thanks so much for the laughs. I needed that today. Love the yellow sweater and the wish plant. I love catalogs and even though PB has a lot of repeats I still pore over every page.

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  50. This post made me laugh out loud! I DO love me some catalogs, but I agree that I wouldn't want to live in those rooms! Somehow, the ever-present Barbies and My Little Ponies just seems to say, "home" to me (of course they do need to be corralled in cute matching decorative baskets! As for fav. catalgos, PB is my all time favorite, followed by Ballard. I even love the PB kids and teen catalogs... you never know what might be inspiring! I also love the Williams Sonoma catalog. Of course I don't make any of the delicious looking things they feature, but I still drool over the fancy kitchen electrics and gagets.

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  51. Why didn't I think of that!?! Hysterical.

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  52. Thanks for making my Monday a little brighter! This blog make me laugh out loud, literally! I have often had the same observations while looking through the Pottery Barn catalogs.

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  53. Yep~me too...Laughed Out Loud! Love it!!!

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  54. Pottery Barn Kids is a favorite... and of course IKEA. I find absolutely nothing ridiculous about IKEA catalogs. I love the crap out of them and I would happily jump onto it's pages and live there for the rest of my life. Noooo joke.

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  55. Thanks for sharing that website for Catalog living. It is hilarious! I may or may not have gotten a few questionable stares from the hubs because I was laughing so hard!

    Hannah
    http://youngancrafty.blogspot.com/

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  56. I do not get any decor magazines, but I may have to after reading that blog! I did not realize that they offered so much comic relief! Hillarious! Thanks for sharing.

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  57. Thank you so much for making me laugh!! I love pouring over catalogs and find the Pottery barn one of my favs!! I'm with you though it just can't be reality
    but I do love it in all it's dreaminess!!

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  58. I love looking at catalogs but couldn't figure out why I haven't gotten a single catalog for the past couple of months... I just mentioned it to my husband and found out he called a 1-800 to stop all our "unwanted" junk mail right after we moved here. So we ended up being removed from all mailing lists... LOL

    Do you know what is truly crazy?? My cousin's house looks like it could be straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog and it looks awesome. Some how she has managed to make it look "real"!!

    I love the Cataloug Living... it is just too funny!!

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  59. I love getting ideas from Pottery Barn. I love all of their stuff! And I love reading Catalog Living! The posts are soo funny! I like the one from a couple weeks ago that has watermelon wedges coming out of the drinks on the counter. :)

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  60. It is kinda funny because this weekend I was showing my hubby your post about the window valance cornice thingy's that I have looked at aleast a hundred times, and he said "Oh look, she has a little toy leaver-outer too!" And it wasn't until he said it that I noticed there was a little toy car under the valance in one of the pictures! Very cute! :)

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  61. OMG! I LOVE your blog! When I'm feeling down you always inspire me. Today I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. I'm gettin a wish tree -- for sure!

    Thanks so much!

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  62. I love this post - I had the exact same conversation with myself about an olive oil tasting party when I (excitedly) paged through the new PB catalog tonight. I looked at that olive oil server and thought I just HAD to have it - until I realized I would likely never use it for anything. The bowls would really be too small for any practical use :(

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  63. Greeeeaat Post! You are Oh SO clever!
    I love all those mags too. Esp. PB.

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  64. I've been a watcher of Catalog Living since its beginning! I absolutely love it! And I loved her in the Sonic commercials before that! Thanks for the post!

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  65. Oh my goodness, You had me laughing so hard I was crying! I have heard of the other website before, but I think you are even funnier!. Thanks so much for the laugh! This is the funniest post I have read in 6 mos.

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  66. And I thought I was the only one who stole ideas from the magazines. He, he, he...
    My favorite magazine is Crate and Barrel. I always say, "my favorite form of decorating is Pottery Barn meets Crate and Barrel." Sometimes shabby chic joins in with them. LOL! I love your site. Glad I happened upon it!

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  67. Oh My Gosh - I am seriously crying over the yellow sweater - So freakin' funny!!!!!

    I agree 100% with you on the catalogs - oh so dreamy, but an ottoman with a tray full of glass is not working in this house of 3 boys under 6 years old :-)

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  68. That's so funny! I was just looking at the very same PB catalog today and had some very similar thoughts. Right down to the desire for an Olive Oil Tasting party!

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  69. Thanks for sharing Catalog Living--I'm over there now and laughing out loud!

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  70. LOVE that site! I also dream of living in catalogs... even if they will look more "lived in" when I'm there. another good one is Crate & Barrel. I could live in that store.

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  71. Hysterical! You are TOO funny! I think I enjoyed your post more than the comedian's. :)

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  72. Glad to see someone else is as addicted to catalogs as I am!!

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  73. OMG! What a great post!! lol! I just burst out laughing at the comment on one of the captions of the photos ("it's where I clip pictures of people who I want dead.") I couldn't believe I was reading that, but I just had to laugh! ;-)

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  74. Thank you for this post! I always look through the PB catalog thinking 'why can't our home look like this?' We have baby stuff and PT equipment in our living room, so it never looks like a catalog, but at least it feels like home :) And I agree with you about the photos on the PB wall... our frames have faces in them too!

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  75. ur so funny and SO RIGHT. Phew! i feel so much better after reading this.

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  76. I was dying laughing at that blog a couple of weeks ago, and then lost the link! Thanks for sharing it!

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  77. I am cracking up at the wish tree.

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  78. lol, this is so hilarious! I don't usually comment on blogs, but I was just in the middle of a super bad day and you totally made it better with this post. Cheers to deliciously impossible catalog homes! :)

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  79. This site is hilarious! I have had a pretty bad two weeks and this brightened my day right up! Thanks for sharing. Also, I have been reading your blog for a while now and I decided to start my own blog. Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. I transformed an ugly chandelier into a beautiful piece, and I now visit the Goodwill often to find treasures I can revamp. Thanks so much for the inspiration. I linked to your blog on my new blog, Creative Carolina Charm.

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  80. I totally cracked up reading YOUR blog entry, and then laughed till I cried reading about Gary and Elaine. Love your blog!

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  81. Your post is really fun to read. It makes me feel better. Is that your house in that picture? It is so amazing. Very unique designs.

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  82. What a hoot! lol. I need to check out that site. I love decorating magazines. Over the years though I promised my DH that I would cut back on buying so many. That is hard. It's truly an addiction. Some of my fav's are Souther Living, Country Living, Pottery Barn. Thanks for the laugh.

    Cheryl M.

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  83. I'm actually a catalog writer. I freelance for the decor company Sturbridge Yankee Workshop. Have you seen their catalog? If not, add it to your list of catalogs to peruse. I've gone with them on photo shoots a few times. So fun! It's amazing the work that goes into creating a catalog. I love looking at catalogs, but while part of my brain is noticing all the juicy products, the other part is analyzing the copy, layout, and photography. ☺

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  84. I LOVE This post! You crack me up every time I read what you write, but this one especially! Too funny! Keep up the great work! Love your blog!

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  85. I love looking at catalogs but think now I will be creating the photos.... or picking out the things that really wouldn’t work in real life. But I think we could tweak them to fit are life.... like the 1st photo, instead of a “menu” do a cork bored or tinted photo, and instead of the tree branch... dried herbs on the side. Just a thought :)

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I LOVE your comments, thank you! (I read every single one.)

If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here! Be sure to check out the FAQs tab at the top of the site and my Projects page for paint colors and DIY projects as well.

THANKS so much for reading!