A girl and her Disneyworld

Why yes, this is my third time to Disney World in the last 15 months, and I kinda love it. I’m shooting with the Disney Vacation Club team, exploring all these hidden fun things at Disney World — OH, LIKE MAYBE I’M GOING TO SHOOT IN TREEHOUSES TOMORROW THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY STAY IN … NBD.

The crew is awesome, the weather is great. Alls good in Flo-ride-ah. I’m staying now at the Wildnerness Lodge which is a Yosemite park theme resort and recently renovated. I totally love it. I’ve stayed at three different resorts here and this is my favorite. It’s just so cozy and quiet. It reminds me of Oregon.

Check out the carpet in the lobby (and throughout the hotel):

Totally rad. It’s not meant to have the hipster appeal that it does, it’s meant to feel all Wild West/American Indian, but since we are all bolo tie wearing fools these days, it seems to fit the trend.


Going up. Love those elevators.

Oh, just a five-story tall Christmas tree. I’m a tiny, tiny person.

I’m crawling in this big ‘ole tub to read and relax before I crawl in my huge bed in 45 minutes. I’m reading the most inane book by Nicholas Sparks (shut up, it was an airport purchase) and it’s REALLY doing the job of putting me to sleep (I mean, it’s just so stupid) — but I’ll finish it because I’m just that dedicated to fictional love of the most unrealistic kind.

In other news, 24 people have already entered the mantel styling contest on my facebook page. Remember, if you don’t have a mantel, you can use a console or credenza or piano — any horizontal surface.  Vote for your favorite mantel HERE and enter the contest to win my favorite brass trunk HERE.

Read yesterday’s post for full details. But mainly what you need to know is that there will be five total winners, with most votes being the first place winner of this bad boy:

You know you want him. And if you don’t want him, then don’t enter because he needs to go to a very loving home. I’m way too much of a hoarder to give him up to someone who won’t properly give him the emotional adoration that he deserves.

Follow me on Instagram for all my weeklong behind-the-scenes pics of filming here; emhenderson is my username (yes em_henderson is my twitter … it’s social media suicide, I know).

(P.S. — For those of you who want to join the mantel contest but don’t have a Facebook account anymore, i’m so sorry, but in order to upload and have everyone be able to see each others and vote — which is the fun part — I have to use Facebook. (Unless anyone knows another way to do this.)  But maybe you can borrow somebody else’s profile.

who wants to win this vintage brass trunk?

It’s a mantel styling contest. And some lucky person is going to take home one of my favorite things.

So, I never enter giveaways and I’ve been thinking about why. I think I don’t like the randomness involved, I guess probably because not winning is annoying and the chance of you randomly winning is not high. But readers seem to love giveaways, so I was trying to think of what I could giveaway that would make me enter a contest. Then I looked around at my excess amount of vintage things and thought, well there’s a start. I have lots of awesome stuff, stuff I would want really bad — stuff that is very hard to let go of, and I’m going to start giving them away to readers.

Furthermore, what if it wasn’t random? What if you could actual control your chances of winning?

Well now you can.


So here’s the story, all you have to do is style your mantel for the holidays (which you probably already have done) and take a picture of it.  Then ‘like’ my facebook page and upload the picture into the contest.  Then tweet it out, facebook, email it, do whatever you can to get people to vote for your photo. I’ll be promoting it too, but in order for you to win you need the most vote

Here’s the direct link to the promotion:  Holiday Styling Contest

Even if you don’t want to win this piece this time and you don’t feel like entering, you have no idea what I’ll give away in the future. Maybe it will be that vintage teal kilim rug you’ve been looking for for years. Share this around so other people enter and I can continue doing this because I’ll be so very sad to give this piece up for 10 new facebook “likers.” What a weird world we live in.

Why am i doing this? I truly want to engage more with you guys and responding to comments isn’t enough.  But seeing what you are doing, how you are styling is going to be terribly fun. And promoting you as readers (or bloggers, if you are bloggers) is obviously only good for the blog.

The contest starts today and ends New Year’s Eve at 11:59pm. The winner of the brass trunk will go to the mantel with the most votes , BUTTTTTTTTTT what if that mantel isn’t really the best? What if that mantel is not that great and there are many others that are way better?

Well, just in case I’m ALSO going to pick MY favorite mantel and that person will win another vintage side table. I haven’t decided which one yet, maybe a lucite stool that I LOVE or maybe a wicker stool that I love … this is VERY HARD.

In addition, three more mantels will win vintage accessories of my choosing — all stuff I love and I think you will too. These three will be determined by me and might be that they did an amazing job of promoting it, it might be that they clearly put in SOOOO much effort and I really want them to have something. It’s kinda up in the air and up to me. I’m getting drunk on this power …

That is five winners total. FIVE. C’mon, you have such good chances of winning — just get people to vote for you! I’ll choose the pieces this week from my inventory and leak sneak peeks, so be sure to follow me on Instagram (emhenderson) and Twitter (em_henderson).

 Have I made everything clear enough? TELL YOUR FRIENDS! If you don’t want to try to win this, then please vote for the one you like most. Go HERE for the promo page. It’s so funny because as bloggers we get paid often to promote companies that we like (and this is a good thing, since it helps us afford to make original posts with original photography) to help grow their brand and their audience. But I never do this for me and my brand. So this is my attempt. I used Easypromos on Facebook (It cost $100! Which is nuts!) and since this is my first time, there might be some hiccups, but I’ll try to fix it.

Meanwhile, here are some keys and tips to styling mantels:

1. Every mantel needs something to soften it — greenery, a garland, or cotton/snow.

2. Every mantel needs something above it — a wreath, mirror, or something holiday-ish.

3. Every mantel needs something vertical to add height; horizontal to help it feel more grounded; and sculptural to break up those two.

If you don’t do this and your mantel still looks awesome, good for you. Go for it. And please embrace your style, don’t try to mimic mine so you’ll win. :) I truly love good versions of every style.

Avoid it looking like a catalogue, the more reflection of your personality the better. Obvs.

If you don’t have a mantel, you can style a credenza or some equivalent piece of furniture. And if you have two mantels, you can certainly enter twice for better chances. You can enter as many mantels as you want.

Tips for shooting: Shoot straight on at the mantel. Shoot during the day with natural light or at night with candles if you have some camera skills.

May the best mantel win. Enter HERE

Family Portrait decision time

I know that I’m kinda dressed like Santa’s helper meets a disco flight attendant in 1973. But this may be the last year that I can pull this off, although I’m sure I will still try. No one can really stop me.

David took a bunch of portrait options, and now Brian and I can’t decide which we like the most to use as our Christmas card.

Portrait A: This next one was our foray into the balloon trend, not sure if you have heard of it. It’s so big that the world is running out of helium. I’m personally blaming it on Ban-do and Max Wanger. I like this one, but it’s probably not it. We wanted to buy HO, but they were out of H’s so we bought XO, because we do love to give hugs and kisses.

Portrait B: This is the un-faced man, just in case we break up and I start dating another tall brown-haired man who loves plaid, I can still keep the photo. KIDDING.

Portrait C: The “he just told me that one about how many stylists it takes to change a lightbulb joke again” and I’m laughing. (Answer: “I don’t know … What do you think?”) This one reminds me of us a lot.

Portrait D: The requisite family portrait. Bearface and “Other Cat” really enjoyed the portrait process. “Other Cat” especially enjoyed being forced to stare at a stranger who was holding a black weapon toward her. Look at the look of sheer panic in her face. She later destroyed two cardboard boxes that day.

Wow. It’s impressive that you are still reading this, it is. That was a lot of the us, especially when I’m dressed like a practically pre-pubescent girl meets Dolly Parton. With a touch of the Honey Boo Boo?

So vote which one we should do: Portrait A through D, and I promise to never show you another portrait of me wearing a bow.

Well … except this one where the twee factor is out of control (and yet, it’s totally me):

Because David Tsay did such a great job that I had to post it. Thanks to to the amazing Danielle Walch for making me go from “Sissy Spacek in Carrie” to that bow wearing flight attendant above. Transformation complete.

And sometimes we just have a ball … together … in our polyamorous relationship.


I decked my halls: The Hendersons go Holiday

White Christmas, California style. Check out the feature on The Glitter Guide for even more info and pictures.

I done did it. I got this idea in my head on Thanksgiving that the Hendersons are grown up enough to throw a proper Christmas party, and party we will. And then I thought a proper one will probably take a lot of effort, time, and money for me to do it well so I may as style the hell out of it, shoot it, and make it one big old branding situation. I’m an opportunist like that. So on December 1st, I forced a few friends to come over for our first holiday party, but not before David Tsay came over and shot the hell out of it.

Here she is, transformed for the holidays:  

The goal: To make it feel totally festive and a little bit over the top without it looking nutso, junky, or creepy. The best way you can do that is to stick to a consistent color palette throughout your whole space, and keep the same decorating theme everywhere. I had a ton of hot pink ornaments left over from the Christmas special, so I knew I wanted to incorporate them. Meanwhile, navy is obviously my color du decade so I wanted to to work with that. Therefore, my palette became navy, hot pink, gold, and white. I know it’s predictable, but it just works so well and makes me so happy.  

For the tree, I grabbed ornaments that were different textures and sizes and colors, but again all within that palette. I think that over time we will probably have more that are sentimental to us that will be harder to mix in, but this is kinda our first Christmas so we are starting from scratch. (Cut to me in five years wondering if it’s bad parenting to take all the ugly colored markers or crayons away.)


You might be wondering where the TV is, and the answer is we don’t have a TV, we choose to read “books” and listen to “our stories” on the radio instead.

In opposite world. For the party, we moved the much beloved TV into the other room, and instead I put a huge stack of wrapped presents in the shape of a tree. It doesn’t entertain me nearly as much, yet somehow it makes me happier. I hand painted all the blue stripe/plaid and watercolor-y ones, and used gold contact paper on white paper on the other ones, and of course mixed in some solids and stripes. It would have been really inexpensive except for the fact that I did buy really expensive papers and ribbons, etc, to play with. But you could even do all white butcher paper with different colored bows (or all the same bows and make them super monochromatic.) You could wrap them all the same white and then paint on the boxes (which is what I did — don’t try and paint the paper and then wrap). I used acrylic paint or tempura paint from the craft store, but I think you could use any paint, just go for it. I didn’t tape any patterns off, but you definitely could.  

Oh, the mantel! The centerpiece and the focal point of the room! Not decorating your mantel is like going to work without your pants on; It doesn’t matter how nice of a shirt you have or how pretty your hair is, it kinda ruins everything … unless you work at an underwear factory and are wearing the underwear that they design and have really nice legs, in which case you’ll probably get a promotion.  

I decked my mantel out, but in a super easy way. For stockings i found these navy blue classic guys at Moskatels in downtown LA for $3.99 each. I love how classic they are but in an updated, less traditional color. They aren’t terribly high quality and I’m sure will only last if we don’t use them. Poor Brian is getting bubble wrap and empty boxes in his stockings since that is what we styled in them. But hell, he loves bubble wrap! I mean, the unexpected yet totally expected pop really gets you every time. For my mantel styling tips watch this video.

I brought in cotton for snow (again, it’s kind my thing this year) because I love how it keeps things so light and airy BUT still softens all the lines. And it’s WAY less messy than the pine needles that the Bear loves to eat and puke and then eat the puke, then puke.  I also like how the cotton creates a bed for all the pretty ornaments up there. At the last minute, we painted the inside of the non-functional fireplace navy blue to make it pop. It was white before, which I liked, but I actually love this. It’s “Loyal Blue” from Sherwin Williams, the same as my office. I threw some cotton in there (snow) and a brass deer head, naturally.

In the front window, I created a holiday tablescape that you can see from the street. I found this lucite console at the flea market recently for $100 with extremely straight modern lines, which I don’t find very often.  I got all the glass domes at Moskatels and other weird wholesale craft/party supply stores downtown (I would imagine Michaels has them) for $5 – $25, depending on the size. Then naturally I filled them with miniature trees.

I added these gold sequin ball ornaments to give it some bling, and some tea lights to bring light and reflection over there at night. I love that it still is consistent with the rest of the space, but it’s kinda quiet and peaceful, too. AND IT’S A MINIATURE FOREST! I‘m assuming there are very, very small little squirrels and polar bears up there, doing adorable things with their teeny, tiny little hands …

On the new coffee table — sorry you can’t see those amazing brass legs — I added a tray that corrals some candles and flowers, threw some more of those awesome gold ball ornaments, and then a brass tangle light under a dome. When we had the party, we just removed the ornaments, and there was plenty of space to put down drinks, etc. The painting in the back was what we used in the holiday special to write “on Dasher, on Dancer,” but this time it reads “Ho Ho Ho, Ho.” Get it? Oh, aren’t we very edgy …

And in case you are thinking to yourself, “Is that a mother loving macramé hanging cat bed in the corner?!” the answer is, “Yes, yes it is.”  I bought it as a hanging table, but Brian (who is slightly more obsessed with our cats than I am) put a pillow on it and Bear immediately claimed it. She loves it so much that we don’t have the heart to take it away from her and instead we are “those people.” Thank God I’m already married. The tour of the house on a first date ending with the Queen of Sheba over there on her $200 cat bed might turn him off faster than the high-waisted jeans (that he didn’t notice yet) that I was wearing. 

The rug is vintage Chinese deco from the flea market for $300. The coffee table is from the flea for $100, the sofa I purchased in Portland at The Good Mod (vintage), the Italian wood hand chair is from Roundtop Flea Market outside Austin, the blue and white pillow is Land’s End, gold pillow is West Elm, and other pillow I sewed myself. The art behind the cat bed is from Jen Gotch through my opensky store. The standing lamp I got in Portland recently, and brass trunk I’ve hoarded for a while.

But, what did we eat at that party you ask?

Only the most delicious food from HeirloomLA.

But first, the wreath. I’m going to do a proper post about it, but basically it was just floral foam wreath form (say that 15 times) that I soaked in water for a while and shoved ferns, peonies, garden roses, and other greenery in. I didn’t have an exact vision for it. I just knew I wanted it to have an organic flow and feel kinda wild. Again, I’ll post about that hopefully tomorrow or Saturday. It was WAYYY easier than I thought it would be, the trick is choosing the right flowers (aka, make them special, full, contrast in size and color, and when in doubt, choose peonies and garden roses). Again, more on that later.

Back to our delicious spread:



CROSTINI STATION: House-cured meats, cheeses, roasted veggies, seasonal fruits , marinated olives, pickled veggies, etc. And yes, that is on a vintage blue and white marble chess board, why not?
ARANCINI with saffron aioli. Sooo delicious.
GARDEN SALAD: homegrown greens and apples with a lemon vinaigrette
Shepherd’s PIE: Braised short rib, whipped yams, and cinnamon marshmallow
PANNA COTTA with apricot glaze and molasses dust.
It was all so delicious you have no idea. I was freaking out.
For the party the next day we had all of the above, PLUS, lettuce wraps that were pretty amazing.
LASAGNA CUPCAKES: various flavors included house made pasta with Sage Brown Butter Pumpkin with Smoked Mozzarella, Wild Boar Bologonese with Fresh Mozzarella, Confit Baby Artichoke with Fresh Mozzarella, Osso Buco with Saffron and Parmesan.  

Thank you so much, HEIRLOOMLA, you make me look VERY cool to my friends.
A huge thanks to Danielle Walch for my hair and makeup (you’ll see those pics tomorrow, with Brian, Bear and Mimi. Who is Mimi you ask? Yes, she’s the “Other Cat” as my friends call her). Danielle is a massive pro at making sometone look ten times prettier without making them look done up. You have no idea how difficult that is.
Everything was shot by David Tsay (who I’ve worked with for years, and blogged about HERE) and he did a pretty amazing job at making my house look like somewhere I really, really want to live in.  A total pro in every way.
Also this handsome man below (along with Beth and Kristen) helped a lot and deserves a huge shout out. His name is Orlando and he’s my other lover, except mainly we hug and talk about lampshades and the difference between Kilim and Persian style rugs.  


Happy Holidays, friends. From our very styled house to yours.

What do you think?

it’s a Dark and moody holiday tablescape



Sometimes I like my tablescapes like I like my men: Masculine, moody, and dark …

I’ve styled so many crazy colorful girly shoots lately that I needed to visually take a break from the girly (stay tuned for Thursday — I’m revealing my holiday decorations and it overflows with pinks and bows). So when Mark and Graham, the newest baby in the William Sonoma family to join West Elm, Rejuvenation, and William Sonoma home, asked me to style their product in my own way, I decided to do something different and get my moody on.

So I chose a palette of black, white, grey, and a warm ochre. It’s not terribly holiday because I wanted to do something more year round for my book, but it is very winter.

I wanted it to feel more modern and masculine, less frills, no florals, no bows, but with some feminine lines here and there (hello, it’s me). And while at first I wanted it to be minimalist, ultimately I do love myself some layers and textures. The key to styling in a masculine way is to keep the color palette fairly simple and choose pieces that have texture, but less pattern or ornate detailing. So I kept all the shapes of the plates, flatware, platters, etc. really simple and straight or at times going towards rustic (like that West Elm pretty black casserole dish), but there was nothing nothing overly decorative with flourishes.

And yes, it doesn’t hurt that I shot at my friend’s house, which is gorgeous (you’ll see WAY more of that in a couple months when we finish the living room and nursery, unless we pitch it to magazines first.)

I recieved the Mark and Graham Typographers Linen Napkins with my H for Holla! (JK, although that is what we will be telling our dinner guests) in the very classic font of Didot regular. Totally pretty and simple.

The gray bowls are from Heath — the Chez Panisse line for $35 a piece.

The white plates are these fancy Chaucer plates that I found at a thrift store for $1 a piece and are paper thin and totally revered by all. After Brian broke two of the matching salad plates, I decided to bequeath them to my friend Scott who WORSHIPS them. I used to get worried that Scott came over to just say hi to the plates sometimes.

The flatware is Crate and Barrel, Aero for $59.99 a place setting.

The casserole dish is West Elm, Terrain Bakeware $29.99.

The black and white plaid tea towel is Fog Linen from Nicky Kehoe in Los Angeles.

Footed black olive holder is actually an incense burner (but I just loved the shape) and also from Nicky Kehoe.

That amazing white rustic pitcher (that can’t hold liquid, it’s a “looking at pitcher” not a “pouring out water” pitcher) was from The Conran Shop, which no longer exists in America — only England.

The vase with the amazing French tulips in them is from Heath as well. The candle holder, footed vessel, and adorable little black/white patterned bowl are all vintage and borrowed from my friend Scott.

Oh, the menu? It’s just delicoius. It’s dark green/purple and black olives, white mozzarella, grilled mango, bread, and yellow beets. SUCH A TREAT! Clearly we bought food at Whole Foods that would work in the color palette and no dinner party actually is happening. My poor (non-existent) guests.

This was a challenge with my friends and fellow bloggers: Cassandra from Coco Kelley, Caitlin from Sacramento Street, Camille from Camille Styles, and Jenny from Little Green Notebook — four blogs that I check regularly and so should you. Go over there and see what they did for the challenge.

So Mark and Graham is hosting a big of a design challenge that all of us are participating in on their Facebook page today. The tablescape designer that gets the most likes will get $500 in Mark and Graham items, and then one of you that votes will randomly win the same. So get on over there and vote. The contest ends on Friday, 12/16, and you know you want some free dough, so go for it.

And there she is sans the Christmas tree, for all of those pinners out there that want to pin it on year round boards. I’m very accomodating like that. :)

All beautiful photographs are by Bethany Nauert, who i can’t thank enough. :)